New York City FC head coach Ronny Deila hailed striker Valentin Castellanos for his impressive contributions during the 2021 Major League Soccer campaign.
The Argentine striker is currently leading the race to win the MLS Golden Boot, a trophy awarded to the league’s regular-season leading scorer.
Castellanos has recorded 18 goals and eight assists so far this season, one ahead of D.C. United’s Ola Kamara and Seattle Sounders’ Raul Ruidiaz.
“The way he has grown through the season has been unbelievable. His discipline from last year to now, he doesn't make stupid free kicks in the same way, not as many yellow cards. He's more positional when he plays and he works really hard.” Deila said.
“He's a handful in every challenge so he's always getting in front and showing the team how to press and how to step forward. Of course he's a great finisher as well, developed himself through the season also in that way. He can score with his right, he's also started to score with his left.”
“There's of course things to work on. His hold-up play is very good, but he can be cleaner technically. He can be a better finisher. But he's 23 years old and already to score 18 goals, he has a big, big chance now to keep on scoring and win something with us. That's the most important and then of course also to get scorer.”
Castellanos still has a chance to up his tallies with one game remaining on Sunday against the Philadelphia Union.
The striker originally joined NYCFC in 2018 from fellow City Football Group club Montevideo City Torque, and recently solidified his position in MLS by signing a five-year contract extension with the boys in blue.
NYCFC currently sits in fourth place on the Eastern Conference table with 50 points in 33 games and a record of 14-8-11. The Bronx-based team will be looking to make a run for the MLS Cup by participating in the postseason, set to kick off on November 20. Ro