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Castillo for USA?

U.S.-born Mexican player Edgar Castillo, 22, says he wants to take advantage of the new FIFA rule concerning dual eligibility and play for the USA.

Call me cynical, what? He doesn't play for Mexico during troubled times; what makes anyone think he would help the American program? I'm not saying the USSF shouldn't take a look at him -- of course, it should -- but don't confuse this situation with the one involving Jermaine Jones, 27, who starts in the Bundesliga and has three caps with Germany but is also eligible for the USA, his desired national team.

To recap, Castillo, the son of Mexican immigrants, was raised in Las Cruces, N.M., signed with Santos in Mexico and played for the Mexican under-23 squad that failed to qualify for the Olympics. He moved to Club America early this year and is now with Tigres. He has made four senior national team appearances, but only in friendlies, which clears him to switch allegiances. He hasn't played in World Cup qualifiers and wasn't chosen for the second-rate Gold Cup.

Asked if he or the coaching staff has been in contact with Castillo, USSF President Sunil Gulati said from South Africa that he had no comment.

On the plus side, he is a left-sided player, a characteristic lacking on the U.S. depth chart. But now that we know Jay DeMerit can play central defense with the big boys, Carlos Bocanegra is the top choice for left back. Is Castillo any better than, say, Jonathan Bornstein, a young, left-sided player who starts for his club and wasn't embarrassed at the Confederations Cup against first-class competition?

As the USA team has overtaken the Mexican team in CONCACAF, shouldn't we start looking at the superiority of individual players as well? Like I said, if Castillo is genuinely interested in American soccer, let's take a look. But let's also temper our enthusiasm for the time being.

Just a contrarian thought.....

By Steve Goff  |  June 29, 2009; 6:53 PM ET
Categories:  Mexico , U.S. men's national team  
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Next: Tuesday Kickaround


8th post and counting...

Posted by: PEddy | June 29, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

I remember him from a few years ago...

Posted by: sitruc | June 29, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Cap him.
Even if he only plays for us once, he's one more guy Mexico doesn't have. If he turns out to get better and becomes a solid contributor, great.

Posted by: jake77 | June 29, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

He's better than Bornstein.

Posted by: uac1530 | June 29, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

My enthusiasm is well-tempered (like a Klavier) on this matter.

Whatever my opinion may be, the new rules say he's eligible. So Bradley should give him a look out of due diligence. I don't agree that we should cap him to keep just to make him ineligible for Mexico. If he's not good enough for us, let a lesser national team have him.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 29, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

strange post, Goff. why scorn a player like that? He's eligible so give him a chance.

If the rules are so flexible the US can get Castillo, how come Arturo Alvarez couldn't get approval to play for El Salvador?

Posted by: oz4dcu | June 29, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

I don't like the phrase "just a thought," nor do I like the term "contrarian."

That said, I agree with your assessment.

Posted by: B_A_ | June 29, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

This happens everytime that we have a good tournament. We assume that we are now better than Mexico. The pendulum swings both ways, my man.

Absolutely cap him. He is absolutely better than Bornstein.

We are not a better team than we were three weeks ago. The only thing that has changed are people's perseptions. Before the perseptions were too low. Now they are too high. The team is the same.

Of course we need Castillo. The real question Bob Bradley smart enough to know that we need him? Bob had a good tournament and that opened up opportunities for the REAL tournament in one year. Take advantage Bob!

We know how the group that Bob likes can play. We need to spend a year seeing how other guys play. Bruce had two teams in 2002 and he combined them for the World Cup. Bob needs to do at least the same thing.

Posted by: mddeblois | June 29, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Yes please!

Posted by: arswift24 | June 29, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

This is so weird because a couple of hours ago for no reason his image stuck in my head and now I see this???
Any way, Goff you know he is way better than Bornstein. Absolutely grab him but like mddeblois points out if BB doesn't see what we see and benched out like Torres than we have a problem. We don't have left winger right now and he is perfect.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball | June 29, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

"Jermaine Jones, 27, who starts in the Bundesliga and has three caps with Germany but is also eligible for the USA, his desired national team" Jones had no desire to play for Germany..? It had nothing to do with the fact that he wasn't going to get called up by the Germans? I didn't know this.

Posted by: nico78 | June 29, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Since we're talking about perceptions, I think the perception of Bornstein is too low here. He's fast, tough, and is still improving. Is he great? No. Would I be comfortable starting him in the World Cup? At the moment, not particularly (though I wouldn't be freaking out either).

Having seen Castillo, I'm not so sure he'd do better than Bornstein within Bradley's system (which is far removed from the typical Mexican approach). He's definitely better in terms of technique, but I don't think he'll adapt to Bradley's interpretation of the role of a left back very quickly. Soccer is not just about who has the best first touch or the ability to dribble past someone. I think Bornstein is a tougher player with more athletic ability, and I think tactically they're about even. Castillo's attacking play might make opposing right-sided players a bit more cautious, but it also leaves an avenue for attack that won't be there as much with Bornstein.

While the bullish US fan in me says we should publicly mock Castillo for changing (he did, after all, publicly choose Mexico not that long ago), that's short-sighted and might cost us players in the future. Bradley should bring him into a camp to get a look at him within the US framework, and take it from there. With DeMerit's success inside allowing Bocanegra to move to the left, it's not nearly the pressing issue that it was only weeks ago.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | June 29, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Frontrunner! US goes to the final of the Confed Cup, and now he wants to join!

Posted by: Reignking | June 29, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Just on principle we should start him versus Mexico on 8/12... however, I would seriously like to see him play as a sub versus El Salvador on 9/5. At the very least, it eliminates an option for Mexico.

Posted by: mediaman1976 | June 29, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Completely off-topic: will be carrying tomorrow night's Open Cup game for anyone not able to get out to the Soccerplex.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | June 29, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

ok now how many people have morned because he didn't play for the us? well, he wants to come back so be happy. If Sasha - long legs jay walking, and Altidore, occasional goals, mostly jay walking, whining, diving can get on the roster yes, Castillo is much better from every angle than those.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball | June 29, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Good Lookin' on the heads up Chest. I did notice that nice little tidbit in Steve's blurb here:

I'm really wondering about the Sounders/Timbers clash on the 1st that is rumored to be televised somewhere... Will that match-up be on as well?

Posted by: DadRyan | June 29, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

I'm the contrarian on Bocanegra. I don't think he is the answer next year. Brasil exposed his lack of speed on Sunday (I think it would have been far worse if Dani Alves had started since he is faster than Maicon and has a more devastating cross but Dunga made his decision). Bocanegra will be another year older and I suspect that he will lose anoter step. He also doesn't add much in going forward. He needs to stay in the center and we will need to try out all the possbilities (besides Bornstein and Heath Pearce) at the position.

Posted by: agoldhammer | June 29, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm not as contrarian. I agree that Demerit provides another capable central defender. I'm not sure, however, that Bocanegra is the answer at left back. Give Castillo a look-see. If he's good, the U.S. gained depth, if he's not, well then we will know why Mexico shunned him.

Posted by: griffin1108 | June 29, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

With Bornstein, you know what you're getting. An average athletic player that will always give it his all; someone who'll rarely surprise you with a letdown, but only because you'll always know what his weaknesses are; someone who'll rarely get embarrassed, but will regularly get outclassed by superior opponents; someone who's always dependable, even if you know he'll always be a weak link on the pitch (if that makes any sense). He's the "safe" play for coaches. You rarely get surprised, either way. Generally speaking from a coaching perspective, his weaknesses are preferred to an unknown, because at least you can prepare in advance to cover them up.

I don't know much about Castillo, but this is without doubt the weakest position on the field. Demerit seems to have helped fill it out (by virtue of letting Boca move out left), but there isn't much depth behind he and Bornstein. It's been a revolving door of late, and one injury would put it right back into that state. It should go without saying that any prospect gets a fair look, and the fact that Castillo fits the description of what is now our weakest position should easily put this decision over the top.

Posted by: psps23 | June 29, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Castillo is 22. Between injuries and injuries and injuries, I think we need some depth.

Cap him. Then let him float in the pool for awhile.

Posted by: delantero | June 29, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

spector could also play on the left, once cherundolo is back and healed up. but i think it's definitely worth it to give castillo a shot.

Posted by: joe_hill | June 29, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

As an American fan and avid follower of Mexican football I'm with you Goff. This guy if you have follow his game down there needs to mature. Not worth it in my opinion to wear the red-white-blue just to fulfill his stuborness. Let's respect the jersey and above all this kid needs to grow up. There is a reason he didn't suceed in America.

Posted by: silentbat | June 29, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Two words. Heath Pearce.

I never want to see this man in uniform again. For that alone, I say we cap him.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | June 29, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

I've never seen Castillo play, so I won't comment -- except to note that Castillo may be regretting his prior petulance. He's kind of the anti-Rossi. Arena wanted Rossi, but he turned it down because he didn't want to give up his dream of playing for the Azzurri. When Castillo was passed over or ignored by the USSF, he was flattered to be asked to play for the Mexican team. Actually, that's understandable.

If he wants a chance with the USMNT, I'd be happy to give him the chance. No guarantees, of course -- but we need all the help we can get at left back. The USA can't afford to be an unbalanced, one-sided team. We need a left back with some ball skills, to take the pressure off the defense, and open up the attack. I have no idea if Castillo can be that guy -- or, even if he's any better than Bornstein or Boca at left back -- but, if he wants the chance to win the job, I say offer him the chance.

Posted by: fischy | June 29, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

somebody forgot to take their Metamucil this morning...

Posted by: gmail | June 29, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

BTW -- I am not totally discounting having Bornstein at left back, or Boca, I'll agree with comments above that Boca looked slow, but his toughness and experience were also evident. Bornstein didn't look awful, but didn't look great either. He carried the ball a few times, but on defense he seemed to rely too much on the shirt pulls. I realize he is young and he is very inexperienced at this level. I imagine he will get better. Whether he will be up to the challenge of World Cup play in a year is hard to say -- which is why I think there is no good reason to turn away Castillo. Bradley and Gulati shouldn't make him any promises, but they should express a willingness to give him a chance.

Posted by: fischy | June 29, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Slightly (OK, completely) OT, but here's a link to Alexi Lalas talking about the USMNT in Spanish. It's about two-thirds of the way in. In particular I like his use of that quintessentially Spanish word "Kaput" when describing the USMNT's second half against Brazil.

Posted by: Juan-John | June 29, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

And it also looks like Mexico is scheduling its August game against the USMNT at 4pm:


Posted by: Juan-John | June 29, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of American players in Mexico, can anyone tell me why Sammy Ochoa isn't playing in the Primera? He looked like a strong player in the U-23 fold, but got killed in the numbers game when the Olympics rolled around -- with Adu, Altidore and Davies parachuted in, along with McBride. Ochoa seems like a real goal-scorer, and I understand he was leading Tecos' lower division team. Is he going to stall like prior future stars Lee Nguyen and Gabe Ferrari?

Posted by: fischy | June 30, 2009 12:02 AM | Report abuse

What does this mean?

"the son of Mexican immigrants"......

And, if it means what a cynical mind thinks it does, what bearing does or should it have in the making up of a "National" Team?
I'm not sure this has been disussed. I have a feeling I know how the majority on this blog will sway....we'll see I suppose.

Posted by: googlio | June 30, 2009 1:24 AM | Report abuse


I think it means his parents were born in Mexico and came to the United States. It doesn't have any bearing on the makeup of the USMNT other than the fact that the player in question is also a Mexican citizen and could play for El Tri, should they invite him and he accept.

Posted by: mason08 | June 30, 2009 2:37 AM | Report abuse

The way Castillo dribbles reminds me of DeMarcus Beasley at his prime and how he earned the nickname "Jitterbug." Bring him in for a look see!

@Juan-John so do you think at 4 p.m. Mexico City time is when the heat and smog are at their daily peak? We'll take 'em regardless.

If Bocanegra and Hejduk were to lose their positions on the team due to increased competition, I wonder think Bradley would find a place for them on the subs bench. They seem to bring a lot to the team in the locker room, as seen by Boca's section as captain and Hejduk's incredible fitness level and love for the game.

Posted by: billindmd | June 30, 2009 4:41 AM | Report abuse

"Call me cynical...".

OK, you're cynical. A young talented left back who plays in a good professional league wants to play for the US? My reaction is, "Yippee!" I'm guessing he wasn't called for second-rate Gold Cup because he hadn't made his announcement in time.

psps: due to Goff's work rate yesterday, your comment fell way back. you were right, I did mean Jones and not Johnson. I'd rather go to RSA with just 22 players than have Johnson.

Let's go DCU! See if some of those teenagers can be offered developmental contracts.

Posted by: troy6 | June 30, 2009 5:54 AM | Report abuse

I don't like the phrase "just a thought," nor do I like the term "contrarian."

Posted by: B_A_ | June 29, 2009 7:52 PM |

Thank you for your contrarian thought.

Posted by: Ron16 | June 30, 2009 6:44 AM | Report abuse

This is from a NY Time article on EC last year:
“When he had just begun to play for Santos regularly, Mexico brought him in for a friendly,” Bradley said. “That makes the process more challenging. There’s more tension to the whole thing, and the time line of trying to watch a guy for a little bit and find the right time is more difficult.”

Bradley attended the Santos-Chivas USA game last week, which Chivas won, 1-0. Castillo was one of the most dangerous players on the field, creating some of Santos’s best scoring chances with swift probing runs from the left side.

“We want to always do everything possible to be on top of the talented players that could play for the United States and try to bring them into our teams at the right time,” Bradley said. “When we miss out on somebody, it is frustrating for sure.”

Posted by: Naranjal | June 30, 2009 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Bornstien wasent embarrased, but he was till obviously lacking somthing. He did get beat down the wings quite a bit as well, which is probably why he sits the bench. He lacks knowledge of how to play the ball out of the back, and his speed leaves something to be desired. Castillo in my book is a loaner, not sure he can even make our team in my book. The last thing i want to see is the us team starting to adopt the mexican style of soccer which is pass the ball around in your own half until the opponents are tired, then proceed to attack by make 50 passes until your teammate is on the doorstep with an easy shot. And if it doesnt work, do it again and again and again till it does.

Posted by: g3impreza | June 30, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

He is better than Bornstein.

To say that Bornstein did not embarrash himself at the Confederations Cup is being generous.

Posted by: Barracudas | June 30, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Bornstein was exposed in the Confed Cup for what he is, a good MLS player and thats all. Yeah, he was not beaten down, but we are not going to win many high-level games with Bornstein at left back any time soon. Castillo deserves at least a chance.

Posted by: therealfootball | June 30, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

@ g3impreza

Unfortunately, if we had played that kind of Second half against Brazil (endless passing, waiting till opponents lose their cool), we would have limited the countless chances conceded by going to zone and saying, "Bring it on!"

While I don't think we should adopt the Mexican style (I mean, look where they are right now) we still have to be competitive in many categories of the game (including possession) to beat the best teams. We don't have to beat Brazil at their own game.

But the best teams don't need a lead. They just need the ball.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | June 30, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, I must have been living under a rock for a while there: what is the new FIFA rule for National Team elgibility? Hasn't it always been one FIFA sanctioned game and you're locked, not including friendlies?

Posted by: The_Dude_Abides1 | June 30, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I'm not "scorning" the guy but I'm not dancing for joy, either.

My memory is not too good at times.

Maybe I am completely wrong about this but I had thought that Dude previously said that he did NOT want to play for us and that if we called him, he wouldn't take the call.

Posted by: yankiboy | June 30, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

@mason--well stated explanation.

Posted by: yankiboy | June 30, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

I saw him play at Santos but lost track after he went to Aguilas. He's very quick, much quicker than Bornstein, and definitely his technique is better than Bornstein. We need depth for skillful players else the parity of the left back sub will drastic. Boca is athletic and strong, but he doesn't add skill (other than set pieces) to the attack like a Bornstein or Castillo.

Posted by: Charisma_Man | June 30, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I think speed would be the ultimate factor if he wants to play for the US. Bocanegra is slow. Also you have to take into consideration that we need depth. He could provide that and I think he may be a notch or two above Bornstein.

Posted by: no_recess | June 30, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I'm with Goff on this one. Like most posters on here, I haven't seen Castillo play, but if he's not good enough to play for Mexico in WCQ, then why should we think that he's good enough to play for the US? Everyone including Goff is saying that we should "take a look at him." I'm not exactly sure what that means. Does that just mean that Bradley and his staff should start watching lots of video on Castillo? Or does it mean that we should bring him to a national team camp, where space is already pretty limited?

I don't know the specifics of the new FIFA rule for player eligibility, but Goff seems to indicate that a player is tied to a country only after playing a match in a legitimate competition with that country (but not a friendly). So in order for us to "cap him" as most commenters are recommending, we would have to play him in either the Gold Cup (not possible - rosters have already been released, and it's way too close) or in World Cup Qualifying. Call me crazy, but I don't feel comfortable throwing this guy who we've never seen before to the wolves in any of the upcoming CONCACAF matches. These WCQ matches are way too important for us to be using precious roster spots just to cap a guy who may or may not be good enough to play with us in the future.

Posted by: DCUMD | June 30, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

DCUMD-I got your point on "throwing him to the wolves", it is a good one. Some of us have seen him play on the tizzzube at club level.

There are still some WCQ where he could play after the rule change takes play.

We capped JT here at RFK when we played Cuba. I think that JT is a useful player. Why can't we do the same with Castillo? Is putting him on in the 82nd minute of a game that we are leading by a couple goals such a liability???

He is as good as the guys that we have on the bench.

Posted by: yankiboy | June 30, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

@DudeAbides -- the old rule tied you if you were capped by the senior team or played in any level FIFA tournament game and you reached your 21st birthday. Now, you can still change your association after your 21st birthday, if you've never been capped for a senior FIFA tournament game. The crux is that you had to have dual nationality at the time you played in the junior level game.

And, you have been under a rock -- you missed the discussion last week about the declaration by German/American dual national Jermaine Jones that he wants to play for the USA. The new rule apparently takes effect in August.

Posted by: fischy | June 30, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Because the rule is not if effect yet, no over-21 dual nationals who have played at the junior levels or in friendlies can switch right now. So, they cannot play in Gold Cup. However, they could play in later WC qualifiers.

Posted by: fischy | June 30, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

What does this mean?
"the son of Mexican immigrants"......
Posted by: googlio

To continue what mason08 wrote, this puts the story in context. It's necessary when discussing a player who has national team choices, e.g. Rossi, the Serbian guy (not Kjlestan), and Torres. There is nothing xenophobic about it.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 30, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Yankiboy- If the verdict is that he's at least as good as Bornstein, then I'm ok with it. I just think that there's too much of a tendency among posters to assume that anything is better than what we already have. And capping a player just for the sake of keeping him away from Mexico doesn't really seem fair to the player.

Posted by: DCUMD | June 30, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Players like Edgar Castillo, Jose Francisco Torres and Michael Orozco are on TV very frequently if you get Telefutura, Univision or TV Azteca. I liked what I saw from Sonny Guadarrama in the Primera A promotion final a month or so ago, too.

Like some have pointed out Edgar Castillo is a totally different player than Bocanegra. His attacking skills are clearly superior and his defending skills are clearly weaker. With Santos and America he has tended to play well upfield and sometimes has seemed missing when his teams have given up goals. But that's the tactical system they tend to use and I haven't heard him blamed when I've seen those situations happen.

Bob Bradley may prefer a more conservative "stay at home" type left fullback but he may be willing to look at Castillo as a player to be used against weaker teams or even as a left midfielder. I think Hugo Sanchez used him as a left mid.

As BillInMd pointed out it's probably better to think of him as Damarcus Beasley type player (lanky, fast and likes to dribble at people) than a converted central defender like Bocanegra.

He would definitely have a chance to earn the USMNT left fullback position given our dearth of talent there.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | June 30, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

At this stage, we should expect more from guys than simply "not getting embarrassed". That's setting the bar way, way too low. And Bocanegra, as much as I love the guy, isn't the answer. No way. He's too slow. He's a great option, even at left back, against some teams. But he absolutely cannot be a mainstay at that position because many teams - Honduras, for starters, not to mention the likes of Brazil - will expose his physical limitations.

Bornstein's useful. But what's to lose bringing in Castillo? Frankly, I love the recent development of Mexican-American kids choosing the USA. Orozco, Torres, and now Castillo. It's great. Someday, we'll figure out how to integrate the different skill set guys like Torres and Castillo bring to the table to forge a unique American style. A hybrid of the European and Latin games, physicality and skill, strength and quickness...

Only in America.

Posted by: DEFPOTEC1 | June 30, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

1st - he does not go in well with the style of us soccer. i like the way the defence is strong.
2nd- he once said he'd rather play for and in mexico when he started getting attention in santos.

i prefer that he doesnt get called in to either national teams.
serves him right for putting down our mexican national team.

just because u.s. has been doing well, NOW HE WANTS TO JOIN.

nestor de la torre(director of national teams of mexico) already said that he doesnt want players like him.

Posted by: rikelme90 | July 4, 2009 1:13 AM | Report abuse

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