After leveling in the 83rd minute, Castellanos scored the dramatic winner in the third minute of second-half stoppage time. Keaton Parks headed a Ronald Matarrita service to the back post where Castellanos pounced on the rebound of his own saved shot to knock in the decisive goal.
NYCFC (10-4-8, 38 points) moved up to third place with the win, their third in the last four games, while the Dynamo (9-12-3) dropped their third in a row.
“The most important thing tonight is the team’s fight until the last moment,” NYCFC coach Dome Torrent said. “When that happens you have more confidence for the next game and the next game. When that happens you know exactly you are able to come back and get the result.”
Castellanos, who came on for Eric Miler in the 58th minute, tied the match in the 83rd minute when he latched onto a ball clipped into the box by Parks and snapped his header past Tyler Deric from 12 yards out.
“His attitude is fantastic,” NYCFC midfielder Alex Ring said of Castellanos. “In practice he never lets himself down. He has a really good attitude, physically really strong and always gives his all. That’s how he pays dividends so to say to himself, but it’s all hard work.”
Castellanos’ sixth goal of the season canceled out Mauro Manotas’ go-ahead goal for Houston six minutes earlier that came against the run of play. The Colombian received a pass from Matias Vera, took two quick touches before firing a low shot past Sean Johnson from 25 yards out for his ninth goal of the season.
NYCFC jumped in front in the 16th minute on another well-worked team goal that started with Alexandru Mitrita playing to Heber’s feet at the top of the 18-yard box. Heber returned the ball to Mitrita, who passed to Jesus Medina. The Paraguayan played short to Heber before Mitrita pounced on the loose ball and fired a first-time shot in from 15 yards for his sixth goal of the season.
NYCFC had a pair of golden chances to extend their lead one minute apart. On a quick counter, Mitrita found an open Heber, who took a touch into the box before his shot was blocked for another corner. One minute later, an open Gary Mackay-Steven put his attempt wide of the net.
Aug 8, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Houston Dynamo midfielder Matias Vera (22) plays the ball against New York City FC midfielder Keaton Parks (55) during the first half at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
The Cityzens paid for those missed chances in the 26th minute when Juan David Cabezas equalized on his second career MLS goal for Houston.
Former NYCFC fan favorite Tommy McNamara, who was honored before his first game back at Yankee Stadium, was played out wide by Tomas Martinez. McNamara took a settling touch before cutting back to Cabezas, who fired inside the far post with a low first-time effort.
“I say to to my players, be careful because when you have the opportunities, you have to score,” Torrent said. “That happened in the first half for example against the Red Bulls, the same. We could score two or three goals and then after that they score in the last minute they scored on the penalty.”
The Dynamo were reduced to 10 men in the 29th minute when Romell Quioto was sent off on a straight red card for a forearm to the back of Matarrita’s head after the two exchanged shoulder barges.
NYCFC attacked from the outset, with Mackay-Steven collecting the rebound of a Mitrita free kick off the Dynamo wall and fired from the top of the 18-yard box. But Deric parried the left-footed attempt out for an NYCFC corner in the 9th minute.
Three minutes later, Heber slipped a pass to Mackay-Steven, whose deflected shot rolled wide for another corner.
The second half was delayed nearly 80 minutes due to severe weather. When it resumed, Mackay-Steven picked up where he left off, putting a first time effort over the crossbar after a low bouncing corner toward the near post by Matarrita in the 48th minute.
A minute after A.J. Delagarza nearly put a diving header into his own net, Heber missed a sitter in front of the goal on the rebound of a shot Deric initially saved on the ensuing corner.
“It was a must win for us,” Ring said. “Just because of the situation we’re in with the games in hand and you don’t want to throw away opportunities. Even though it wasn’t our best game today for various reasons, we hung in. The difference [from the loss at] Salt Lake was we were ready today, mentally physically, first balls, second balls.”