Toronto FC-New York City FC Preview
Valentin Castellanos is delighted to have committed his future to New York City FC after penning a four-year contract with the club.
Castellanos has scored four goals in as many league games this season, and had been linked with Copa Libertadores champions Palmeiras. However, the 22-year-old will be going nowhere for the foreseeable future, and ahead of NYCFC's clash with Toronto FC on Saturday, spoke of his joy at signing his new deal.
"I'm very happy about this opportunity the club is giving me," Castellanos said in a club release. "The people here have my back and help me to be a better person and player every day. I'm happy to keep developing my career with the club. What I like about the club is the people. The people that work here. My teammates that help me grow day after day. I'm very happy and calm here. I feel the respect from everyone that works here, and I think it's a wonderful situation for me and my career to continue with this club."
While NYCFC have two wins, a draw and a defeat from their opening four games, Toronto got its first win of 2021 by beating Columbus 2-0 last time out – Micheal Bradley and Jozy Altidore scoring.
"It was a big win, there's no two ways about it," said Bradley. "It's been a crazy start to the year. There's so much that's gone on behind the scenes. I'm never one to make excuses ever, but it's been our reality for this last stretch.
"The feeling inside of the group has remained really good. We all feel like we're moving ourselves in a good direction, but when you have the standards that we do, you have to win games, you have to take points."
New York City FC – Valentin Castellanos
Having signed his new deal, Castellanos will be determined to carry on his fine form. He is the third top scorer in MLS so far this year, behind Raul Ruidiaz (Seattle Sounders) and Javier Hernandez (LA Galaxy).
Toronto FC – Jozy Altidore
Altidore only managed 12 goals last season and is yet to start a game in MLS in 2021. However, he came on to have an impact against Columbus, netting a game-settling second late on, and the 31-year-old may well have put himself into starting contention for Saturday.
Toronto has won in its last two visits to NYCFC, including the 2-1 victory in the 2019 playoffs. Only Portland, from 2015 to 2019, has won three straight games at New York City.
NYCFC has scored in 15 straight matches (incl. playoffs) dating back to last season, equaling the second-longest streak in club history (20 straight from March-July 2017). The last team to shut NYCFC out was Toronto in a 1-0 win on September 23.
Toronto gained its first win of the season with victory over Columbus on Wednesday. It was only the third time since the start of last season that the Reds have won by more than a one-goal margin.
NYCFC striker Castellanos is the fifth player in MLS history to score in each of his team's first four matches of a season (Erick Torres x2, Carlos Ruiz x2, Edson Buddle, Brian McBride). Only Brian McBride, with Columbus in 1998, scored in his team's first five matches of a season.
Bradley recorded a goal and an assist in Toronto's win over Columbus, his fourth career game with a goal and an assist and the first since September 2016 against the Red Bulls.
Updated May 14, 2021