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With Taty Castellanos Out, Who Plays Striker for NYCFC Against FC Dallas?

Manager Ronny Deila is short on options when it comes to the No. 9 position. So who steps in?

MLS: New England Revolution at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of the discourse around New York City FC for the past 24 hours has revolved around the potential return of striker Héber to the matchday squad. Having missed a year of action due to an ACL injury, the Brazilian forward could be ready to get some minutes against FC Dallas tonight, according to manager Ronny Deila.

Let’s get one thing straight from the get-go: due to match fitness being an issue, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see Héber start even with striker Taty Castellanos out due to yellow card accumulation. Given how Deila has gotten players up to speed in the past, anything more than a 10-15 minute cameo for Héber is all but a pipe dream.

So, who else is there? Well, on paper, there’s absolutely nobody who primarily plays the No. 9 position that is available for NYCFC tonight. But someone’s got to do it and we’re gonna need to get our creative hats on to figure that out.

Here are the most possible options:

Thiago

MLS: Inter Miami CF at New York City FC Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

First-year Night Owl Thiago Andrade is primarily an inverted left winger. But anyone who watches him closely enough knows that the Brazilian loves to drift into the middle when in the attack.

Equipped with blinding pace and knack for 1-v-1’s with opposing center backs, Thiago could be an asset in front of the highly creative Maxi Moralez.

Ismael Tajouri-Shradi

MLS: New York City FC at Philadelphia Union Mitchell Leff-USA TODAY Sports

If I know Ronny Deila’s preferred personnel the way I think I do, it isn’t a stretch to predict that the Norwegian manager will call upon an available Jesus Medina to line up along the right flank. In my humble opinion, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi is far more effective in that spot. But if I can’t have him there, then the No. 9 will have to do.

The Swiss-born Libyan is known for his confidence and competitiveness. Even if he lacks the traditional No. 9 qualities, he more than makes up for it with mentality. Don’t rule him out!

Maxi Moralez

MLS: Leagues Cup Quarterfinals-New York City FC vs Pumas Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Having missed Saturday’s match against the New England Revolution due to a red card suspension, Maxi returns to the fold against Dallas. And considering he’s played a False 9 before, it isn’t unreasonable to predict he could be called upon to do it again.

This is not one of my favorite options. But it is a possibility. That’s really all I have to say about it.

Talles Magno

MLS: D.C. United at New York City FC Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Like Thiago, Talles Magno — NYCFC’s newest DP — is a traditional Brazilian winger with confidence, skill, and flair. But, Talles does have experience playing at the striker position and possesses some of the qualities that can make him formidable as a starting option there.

Even if he’s never been a clinical goalscorer at the senior club level, Magno has a good deal of size and ability to fill the void.