After the final whistle in New York City FC’s 1-0 win over Toronto FC this past Wednesday, the YES Network awarded striker Taty Castellanos with Man of the Match honors. And rightfully so. The Argentinian peppered Toronto’s goals with shots and was constantly breaking the Reds’ back line to create goalscoring opportunities. After all, it was his shot from distance that Jesus Medina was able to tap in a rebound on.
Castellanos brings a lot to the table when he’s on the field. He’s agile, brave, and has a work rate any manager in the world would love. But his game at the center forward position lacks one key thing — he hates using his left foot.
If you need any proof of this, look at this clip.
On a brilliant ball from Ronald Matarrita, Castellanos bursts past center back Omar Gonzalez. After a brilliant touch with his right foot, the striker seemingly has goalkeeper Quentin Westberg beat at the near post. But in a shocking display of having no confidence to tap the ball past the keep with his left foot, Castellanos makes the shot ten times more difficult than it has to be by attempting a rabona with his right foot. This gives Westberg just enough time to get in front of the shot and deflect it out of play.
Ronald Matarrita was 2nd on NYCFC in goals added (g+) vs. TFC.— Kevin Nelson (@Kevin_N_Nelson) October 29, 2020
Of his total 0.20 g+, his passing contributed 90% of that.
He was T-1st or 1st on the team w/
• 10 progressive passes
• 4 passes into box
• 0.4 xA
• 2 key passes
Here are two of his bestpic.twitter.com/YhMwRueEeU
Granted, there’s still a small chance Westberg saves the shot even if Castellanos does attempt to tap the ball in with his left foot. But from the looks of it, NYCFC’s second goal of the night is all but guaranteed if Taty shows just a glimpse of confidence in his left peg.
Shooting isn’t the only downfall to Taty being one-footed, either. His dribbling is also effected.
In another clip, we see a montage of virtually every moment that Castellanos found himself involved in on Wednesday. And to often, his first touch fails him because he is overcompensating with his right foot to make up for his shortcomings with his left.
We saw two Tatys last night.— Justin Egan (@EganSoccerWords) October 29, 2020
The first who demonstrated his fantastic ability to make runs with a relentless motor showing off an elite ability to receive the ball in dangerous areas.
The second whose touch failed him constantly around the box.pic.twitter.com/CA04WvszBs
To this day, Castellanos maintains that he is a striker and says that it’s the position he’s played for pretty much his entire career to this point. But without the more balanced Héber available up front due to a severe ACL injury that will keep him out for the remainder of the season — and possibly a bit of the 2021 season as well — Castellanos’ weaknesses as a center forward are becoming just as apparent as his strengths.
It is my humble opinion that a true No. 9 should be at least competent with his weak foot. Obviously, not everyone is going to be David Villa and have their strong foot be pretty much interchangeable depending on the situation. But if we’re breaking this down by FIFA video game standards, I need my striker to have at least a three-star weak foot rating (something that Taty somehow has in FIFA 21). A striker needs to be available to take a pop from anywhere in the box. And having at least some confidence in your weakest foot is part and parcel of that quality.
To me, Taty is an inverted left winger masquerading as striker. And unless he develops the ability to both dribble and shoot with his left foot at least somewhat effectively, that’s what my opinion on him will be. As mentioned before, Castellanos will be NYCFC’s only realistic option at the center forward position for a while. So for better or worse, we’re stuck with him for now. But if he’s to become the gamechanger we all know he’s capable of being when he’s truly on, he’ll always be that promising youngster that is grabbing for the imaginary brass ring without actually getting a grip on it.