Castellanos, Heber Lead New York City Past Cincinnati

New York City, Castellanos
Valentin Castellanos (11) celebrates after scoring a goal against FC Cincinnati. Photo: Aaron Doster-USA Today Sports

New York City FC got two-goal performances from Valentin Castellanos and Héber in its 4-1 road win over FC Cincinnati Saturday night.

The three points pushed NYCFC toward the top of the table in the tight Eastern Conference. Sitting in third place with 41 points, New York City has played one fewer match than second-place Atlanta (42 points) and three fewer matches than first-place Philadelphia (45 points).

The negative note from the game was the loss of defender James Sands. He left the game in the first half after breaking his collarbone. 

“It’s bad news for us,” said Doménec Torrent, NYCFC’s head coach. “We need everybody, but especially this player. Sometimes soccer is not fair with the players and right now it’s not fair with Jimmy.”

Despite the lopsided final score, Cincinnati controlled the game through the first 30 minutes and had a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal from Allan Cruz. In fact, if not for a penalty kick save by City keeper Sean Johnson six minutes prior to the Cincinnati goal, the home side would have been up by two.

Following the Cincinnati goal, New York City bounced back quickly to level the match. Maxi Moralez raced through the midfield and would find Castellanos just outside the box, who would score to level the match at one.

Heber, New York City FC
Heber celebrates after scoring a goal against FC Cincinnati. Photo: Aaron Doster-USA Today Sports

Three minutes into stoppage time New York City would take the lead. A cross by Moralez would find Castellanos who tipped a pass into the path of Héber who would finish for his first of the game.

The second half belonged to the visitors, who controlled play throughout the second 45. NYCFC would extend its lead in the 71st minute when Castellanos headed in a corner kick. Héber secured his brace when he broke through the Cincinnati defense and found the back of the net in the 89th minute.

“When we win this type of game, away 4-1, it is very good for us,” said Héber. So, when we score, everyone is happy. I am happy. I am very happy for Taty (Castellanos) also because everyone is in good shape and we can help the team.”

New York City FC’s push toward the top of the table continues at home Wednesday night when they welcome the Columbus Crew to Yankee Stadium. Game time is 7 p.m.