Taty Castellanos could be a viable No. 9
Since his arrival in 2018, Taty Castellanos has been one of New York City FC’s biggest enigmas. While he initially struggled to make his individual on matches — mostly off of the bench — Taty has steadily grown as a player since 2019 and has increasingly become a player to watch.
Castellanos’ growth has been accelerated since the injury to perennial striker Héber last season. And his performances have varied from OK to amazing in that time. Héber isn’t expected back until at least May so for now, Taty is NYCFC’s only hope.
If his performance against D.C. United is anything to go by, Taty has grown well into his role as NYCFC’s offensive centerpiece. The Argentinian scored a goal and could’ve had another earlier if not for some heads-up defense on DCU’s part.
Tayvon Gray must be factored in somehow
One of NYCFC’s brightest spots on Sunday was Tayvon Gray, their 18-year-old Homegrown signing. The young Bronx native was a consistent force at right back. Whether it was providing clutch defensive coverage or overlapping Ismael Tajouri-Shradi on an offensive counter, Gray seemed to always be in the mix on both sides of the ball. It’s performances like this that support his signing prior to last season.
Gray’s biggest problem when it comes to his playing time is the man in front of him on the depth chart — Anton Tinnerholm. The Swede is potentially (no, definitely) the best right back in the league and has been unbenchable for the past several seasons and I don’t expect 2021 to be any different.
Performances like Sunday do a lot to increase Gray’s stock. And any logic would point to him getting minutes in the near future. But the youngster is gonna have to assert himself if he wishes to see the field in a position where the bar is set at an astronomically high level.
Andres Jasson is for real
Andres Jasson was a late signing in 2020. Initially, Jasson’s signing could’ve been viewed as merely insurance for NYCFC in case one of their attackers went down. Which was a fair assessment at the time. But if this preseason has been any indication, City’s newest Homegrown Player is anything but an ordinary cog and could become a key ingredient in the team’s 2021 setup.
To this point, Jasson has been involved in 4 of NYCFC’s 9 goals this preseason whether it be from drawing penalties, grabbing assists, or even scoring a goal himself — the Connecticut native netted the (scrappy) game-winning goal in City’s 2-1 over DCU on Sunday. There’s nothing ordinary or pedestrian about that.
Many NYCFC fans have been frustrated with the lack of signings the club has made to fill the attacking positions. And they’re justified in that regard. But if this preseason has been any indication, Jasson might be that key addition City fans have been clamoring for.
Andres isn’t short of competition as he’ll likely be competing with the likes of Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Taty Castellanos, and even Jesus Medina (political if anything) for playing time. And when Héber returns in May or June, that competition will grow even stiffer.
But if we’re basing our lineup decisions on merit alone, I don’t see how manager Ronny Deila can deny Jasson his fair share of minutes in 2021.