The addition of Taty Castellanos is expected to give NYCFC a big lift. (Jonathan Jones-USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis Editor

PORTLAND – If New York City FC enters the Providence Park pitch with a little swagger on Saturday, there will be a good reason for it.

City will have the MLS Golden Boot winner back in the Starting XI for its most important match of the club’s seven-year history.

Taty Castellanos returns from a one-match, red-card suspension, which will give the visitors a boost on in its attack against the Portland Timbers in the MLS Cup final on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET (ABC).

“He’s a killer,” head coach Ronny Deila said during a Thursday press conference at the stadium.

How important is Castellanos? His 19 goals accounted for slightly more than one-third of NYCFC’s 56 goals during the regular season.

“He’s a very important player for us,” Deila said. “His value is one thing on the pitch, you see how he’s fearless and he’s very physical. He’s a killer. And that gives the whole team energy and belief and I think it’s psychologically important in the games.

“He starts the pressure all the time, he battles for every ball and that just gives a lot to the team and everybody looks at him when he puts that first. And also of course his ability to score goals and to attack spaces, that’s important. So he gives more space to the other players around him because of his strength up front and inside the box.”

No one has to remind playmaking midfielder Maxi Moralez about how vital Castellanos is to the team, saying that “Castellanos is very important to us, he’s a top goal-scorer.”

“Obviously we missed him in the Eastern Conference final, but Heber came in and did a great job,” Moralez added. “But for us it’s going to be trying to play at the same level we’ve been all season and him giving the same output and it’s also going to be important for him facing Portland.”

Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese, a former high-scoring striker himself during his heydays in MLS and several other levels of the game, can appreciate what Castellanos has brought to his team.

“When you are the Golden Boot [winner] it means you had a good season because every striker, the main target is to help the team to try to score as many goals as you can and have the confidence on the field to be able to score goals,” he said. “And he’s done that, he’s a competitive player. He’s shown that during the season.”

Not only had Castellanos matured into a lethal scoring threat, but he has also shown important leadership qualities as well.

“I’ve talked a lot about leadership during the two years I’ve been here, said Deila, adding that “Sean [Johnson, goalkeeper] has been a natural leader all the time and been captain this year. We have lost leaders and somebody else had to step up, and Taty is one of them who has really stepped up and going in front and shown in training and matches that this is the way we go.”