Major League Soccer

Young stars emerging for NYCFC, Seattle

mls1NYCFC (6-1-8) VS. SOUNDERS (8-4-5)
7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, DAZN, My65, PHL17

Ahead of their meeting Wednesday night, host New York City FC and the Seattle Sounders both turned to some of their younger players last weekend due to international call-ups and injuries.

The moves paid off.

NYCFC’s Valentin Castellanos, a 20-year-old Argentinian, scored two second-half goals and drew two penalty kicks in a 4-2 victory against the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union.

Castellanos was filling in for Heber, the team’s leading scorer with six goals and three assists in 10 appearances, who is out for at least two weeks with a hamstring injury.

“It’s really sad that Heber is injured because he’s been really doing a great job for the team,” Castellanos said. “But I had the opportunity and I’m ready to support the team and especially when I’m scoring goals, it’s helpful.”

Maxi Moralez scored on both of the penalty kicks and assisted on both of Castellanos’ second-half goals as NYCFC (6-1-8, 26 points) rallied from a 2-1 halftime deficit to extend its unbeaten streak to 11 matches since a 4-0 loss March 29 at Toronto FC.

“I don’t have doubt about Taty (Castellanos) because I say many times in the (training) facility, he never gave up. Never. And it’s the best way to convince the coach,” NYCFC coach Dome Torrent said. “I say many times, it’s impossible to win something with just 14 players. They have to be ready to play. And he has these opportunities.”

The Sounders (8-4-5, 29 points), who were mired in a three-match losing streak with about half of their first-team players on international duty, used a pair of teenagers to defeat the Cascadia Cup rival Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 on defender Kelvin Leerdam‘s goal in second-half stoppage time.

Sounders homegrown midfielder Danny Levya, at age 16, became the third-youngest player to start an MLS game behind Freddy Adu and Alphonso Davies. And Seattle brought on 17-year-old Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, Leyva’s teammate in the U.S. Youth National Team system, as a second-half substitute.

Leyva nearly had a dream start, putting the ball in the upper right corner of the net from 30 yards out midway through the second half. But the goal was disallowed after a video review.

“I think (Leyva) has some attacking flair,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “I think some of his passing was very clean. I was, again, just really impressed with the kid. And kudos to him.”

–Field Level Media

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