Taty Castellanos endured a tough day at the office on Sunday. (Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

It’s only one week into the 2022 MLS season, and there is no need for any team to worry.

One result hardly makes a season, good or bad (well, perhaps FC Cincinnati should be worried).

Saying that, there is always concern, whether one wins, loses or draws.

So many factors enter into a team’s performance – how it looks, how individual players competing, the quality of the opponent, whether the match is home or away, among others.

This early in the season, every team is struggling to form its identity.

As we have learned through every Major League Soccer season since 1997, a team at the bottom of the conference standings one year could become a force the next. And vice versa.

Here are some thoughts about NYCFC’s opening 1-0 loss at the LA Galaxy and the team in general on Sunday:

On the road again, even when at home

In many ways, the start of the season could wind up being a metaphor for NYCFC for the next eight or nine months

The club will call a mind-boggling five venues home. It started with the Concacaf Champions League at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles on Wednesday. It will continue at Rentschler Field in Hartford, Conn., Yankee Stadium, Citi Field and Red Bull Arena.

The best thing about playing in the same venue is, well, having home-field advantage, knowing the nuances of the pitch, where there might be an usual piece of real estate where the ball might move differently, playing in front of your adoring supporters.

Familiar surroundings bring tranquility. Having to take a team bus to a “home game” is crazy.

For the record, by the time NYCFC plays at the stadium, the club will have played eight consecutive competitive matches either on the road or away from the Bronx, spanning the last two seasons.

By the time NYCFC leaves Vancouver for home, the team will be away from home for a stunning 48 days. That is World Cup territory for some national teams, not club sides.

The team started training in Orlando, Fla. on Jan. 19. On Feb. 2, the squad departed for Cancun, Mexico. On Feb. 10, NYCFC flew to San Jose, Costa Rica for preparation for its Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 series with Santos de Guapiles. On Feb. 20, NYCFC flew into Los Angeles for two matches. Later this week, City will leave for Vancouver to play the Whitecaps on Saturday, March 5.

NYCFC will meet Comunicaciones in the CCL quarterfinals, in a “home” game at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field on March 8 before returning to the team’s true home for its March 12 home opener at the Yankee Stadium.

You have to wonder how playing so much on the road early on and then in several venues during the regular season will wear down the players.

After all, they are only human.

As for the game

NYCFC tried and sometimes was trying. It appeared the Cityzens would leave Dignity Health Sports Park with a point until Javier (Chicharito) Hernandez had some other things on his minute with a dramatic, 90th-minute goal.

I don’t know if the travel or something else, City was just out of rhythm.

NYCFC was flat when it counted.

Head coach Ronny Deila, noticing that the last thing the team needed to see was a soccer ball, gave the players Friday off. Don’t know if it helped, but at least he realizes they need time to breath.

Being on the road for 48 days can do that to you.

The word on Maxi

One of the joys about soccer that it is open to everyone. You don’t have to be 6-7 and 230-lb. to be a star or work wonders.

Which brings us to Maxi Moralez. He is all of 5-3, 115-lbs., yet he is the straw that stirs the drink, if I can quote another great player who once performed at Yankee Stadium.

His low center of gravity, dazzlingly skills and high soccer IQ allows him to play at a high level, even at the age of 35. Yes, Moralez turned 35 on Sunday.

How can players, especially midfielders continue to be impact players at such an age?

Well, there is a person’s make-up – aka DNA. Some of us have something special in our genes. Moralez probably has taken excellent care of himself, eating well, and not running himself into the ground, particularly off the field.

Usually, we see defenders and goalkeepers remain impact players in their 30’s. Forward and midfielders doing that are rare, but a blessing to watch.

But even at his age, Moralez will need a breather once in a while. NYCFC needs to find another playmaker in the summer window.

The long partnership

One of the biggest factors for NYCFC’s success over the past few years that has gone under the radar has been the center back partnership between Alex Callens and Maxime Chanot. They have teamed up since 2017. This is their seventh season together. That has to be some sort of an MLS record.

Central defender duos don’t last that long, whether they are broken by injury, player form or a player transfer.

Helping to solidify the backline, it should be noted that goalkeeper Sean Johnson has been backstopping the team since then as well.

When you have three key players performing together for such a long time, you know where your teammates are going to be positioned and their strengths and weaknesses. It has gone a long way in NYCFC’s success, especially as 2021 MLS Cup champions.

Scoreless Sunday for Taty

It is unfair to expect the MLS Golden Boot winner to score every game.

But when he doesn’t there are questions to be asked.

Last year Taty Castellanos spoiled us, making us think that at times he could score at will.

Well, very few, if any strikers can do that.

Forwards are streaky players. They can go several games without a score and then all of a sudden, everything they could turns to goal.

Go figure.

Castellanos tired, but at times he seemed out of rhythm, although you’ve got to give props to the LA defense in holding him off the scoresheet.

No, I am not worried about him. If he nets one or two against Vancouver on Saturday and NYCFC wins, things will be looking better.

One thing NYCFC, or any other team for that matter, can afford is its leading goal-scorer to enter into a prolonged slump.