Taty Castellanos has been named MLS Player of the Week after slotting home four goals in a game against Real Salt Lake at Yankee Stadium.
Castellanos's goal flurry will come as a welcome relief to fans after the striker appeared to be struggling to find his form this season. However, after netting
four goals in one match, it seems as if the Argentine has found his scoring boots once more. Last year’s Golden Boot winner broke club scoring records for a single match after contributing four of the six goals in the 6-0 rout of the Claret and Cobalt.
The return to form for Taty Castellanos came as the Cityzens were knocked out of the Concacaf Champions League, after reaching the semi-finals. New York City FC were bidding to become the first team from the MLS to win the tournament but were knocked out by the Sounders, 4-2 on aggregate.
Castellanos has admitted that the team's focus had been on the Champion's League but urged his teammates to put the disappointment behind them to progress in the domestic league.
The striker confessed that it will be “difficult to take the sting away” but insisted he was determined to focus on “switching that mentality” to start notching up wins in the MLS.
And his determination was evident in the result of the game, with Castellanos heading in his first goal in the 9th minute. He added two penalties - one either side of the halftime whistle - to make him the first NYCFC player to score a second hat trick in the MLS. But he wasn't quite finished yet, adding a fourth goal after a poor clearance from Zac McMath.
The renewed appetite for the league was visible on the pitch, with coach Ronny Deila noticing a difference in Castellanos' play in the last week.
Deila described the striker as “back to being balanced mentally and physically” and said he “wasn’t surprised” to see him score four goals.
Castellanos has been under a tremendous amount of pressure this season, and Deila believes that it may have contributed to his temporary loss of form. After being the league's top scorer last year, the striker started the 2022 season with the weight of expectation on his shoulders, and he struggled to deliver.
The pressure coupled with persistent transfer rumours won’t have helped Castellanos, and the lack of goals served to increase scrutiny further. With everyone asking “what’s wrong with Taty?”, the goals temporarily dried up.
Deila insisted that Castellanos had been scoring regularly in training, so it was little surprise to see the player finally recapture the same form in a competitive match. Four goals in a single game is a club record, and puts Castellanos only one away from the league's top scorers so far.
Teammate Alfredo Morales was quick to praise Castellanos, describing how he “works so hard every single day”. The midfielder said that Castellanos was “essential” for the team, helping number 10s such as Santi Rodriguez and Maxi Moralez hit their own rich vein of form.