Castellanos, Moralez and Rodriguez were among seven starters in MLS Cup 2021 who started on Tuesday night. With James Sands now at Rangers and Alfredo Morales out with Covid, Gedion Zelalem got the start in midfield. The former Arsenal protege, now 25, started only one game in his first two seasons at NYCFC but was re-signed for 2022.
“I’ve believed in Gedion all the time," said Deila. "He has been here for two years but has been injured all the time. The reason we have kept him was because we know he has quality that not many players have this in this league. Technically, very gifted, good awareness, good understanding of the game. I have a lot of expectation of Gedion for the future. He’s on the right path to get to the level he was at before.”
Next up. No stadium in the New York area is available or suitable for Concacaf standards, so the return match will be played at LAFC's Banc of California Stadium on Feb. 23.