CF Montreal wary of New York City FC despite Castellanos absence

We can’t say Valentin Castellanos was a hit during his career in the MLS against the Impact and CF Montreal. Which doesn’t mean Wilfried Nancy is unhappy to know that the Argentinian won’t be at Saputo Stadium on Saturday night when New York City FC plays.

Posted at 5:52 PM

Michael Lamarché
The Canadian Press

“Personally, I will not miss him because he is a pure player,” said the CF Montreal head coach after a training session exceptionally held on Thursday afternoon at Saputo Stadium, under a blazing sun.

After just over four seasons with the New York side, as the 23-year-old striker developed into one of the most prolific scorers on the Garber circuit, Castellanos played his final MLS game last Saturday in a 2-0 win over Inter. Miami CF.

He will now play with Girona FC, in the Spanish Championship, on a loan between the two clubs that are part of the City Football Group holding.

In six MLS career games against Montreal teams, Castellanos has never found the back of the net. That didn’t stop him from scoring 50 goals in 109 regular season games.

Of this number, he achieved 19 in 32 games in 2021, which earned him the Golden Boot awarded to the top scorer in the competition. He was destined to do even better in 2022, when he had already scored 13 goals in 17 games, a standings on par with Austin FC’s Sebastian Driussi.

In the 2021 qualifiers, the striker nicknamed Taty scored three goals in as many matches and helped his team win the MLS Cup for the first time in their history.

“Already at the beginning of the year, when we played against them in preparatory matches, we had a little talk and I said to him ‘But what are you doing here? You have nothing left to do here, you have won everything, go see Europe,” said Nancy.

That said, the CF Montreal head coach immediately hinted that Castellanos’ departure suddenly didn’t make the next visitors to Stade Saputo a bad team.

NYCFC (12-4-5-41 points) arrives in Montreal second in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Philadelphia Union, but with a game in hand.

The formation led by Nick Cushing on an interim basis, following Ronny Deila’s departure to Belgium last June, has won its last four encounters and has not lost in its last six games.

His 12 wins and +20 goals/goals scored are a highlight in the Eastern Conference.

Elsewhere, the New York squad hasn’t conceded a goal to their rivals in a 4-2 win against the New England Revolution since July 9, having just recorded three shutouts in a row.

“It’s always a good team, New York City. We know they invest a lot, they do their job well,” said Nancy.

“There is Heber [Araujo dos Santos], who’s there, who’s been there since last year. He had some minor physical problems, but he’s a very good player, different, but a very good player,” Nancy added of the 30-year-old Brazilian striker.

“It doesn’t change anything for us. We know we will face a good team,” he repeated.

If Nancy doesn’t believe the confrontation with the defending champions will spice up the game, the fact remains that this game could allow CF Montreal (11-8-2 -35 points) to increase their standings for the rest of the game. Canadian defender Joel Waterman suggests.

“A win would mean a lot. They’re a great team, they’re the defending champions,” noted Waterman, who, like his head coach, believes NYCFC will remain a very strong roster even after Castellanos’ departure.

“They have certainly lost an excellent player, but for us it remains the same. We are preparing in the same way. It is a formation with talented players. We will have to be ready. It is a match that we can send a message with. We want to beat the best,” he added.

For his part, striker Kei Kamara thinks Saturday’s game is important for the simple reason that CF Montreal must stay on course.

“We want to stay on track, not get into trouble in October or September,” Kamara said.

“Our job at the moment is to keep our focus and go from game to game. New York City FC is a tough team, a good team. Do you remember what happened when we went there. »

Kamara was referring to the March 12 game when CF Montreal, in near wintry weather, received a 4-1 correction at Yankee Stadium.

“I think you play against these teams twice for a reason,” said Waterman.

“It didn’t go well the first time and we want to make sure we fix it. »

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