FC Dallas' Castillo acclimating to MLS, life in US

FRISCO, Texas — On the field, FC Dallas Designated Player Fabián Castillo’s play is electric, inspiring and youthful. Off the field, the 18-year-old Colombian is no different and, just one month after arriving in the United States, he is acclimating quite well.

Through five games in the 2011 campaign, the attacking midfielder has one assist to go with his four starts and is enjoying playing with his FC Dallas teammates, regardless of the language barrier.

“I don’t speak English,” Castillo told MLSsoccer.com after Thursday’s training session, “but we try to communicate and it is very important to have a good relationship with everyone in the group, and I think that is going great. I hope that every day is like that and we continue strengthening our relationships.”

The former Deportivo Cali product admitted that he wants to learn English and is practicing his pronunciation because “you have to be prepared.”

When Castillo, who recently dyed his Mohawk a red tint, arrived in Dallas one month ago, he moved in with FCD director of player development and fellow Colombian Óscar Pareja.

Pareja describes Castillo as easy-going and happy kid. He has helped the youngster adjust to life in the US and provides advice about the rigors of MLS.

“He is adjusting well,” said Pareja of Castillo. “He understands the culture much better. He’s learning the language, he’s driving around, and he is better understanding the pace of the league and the requirements.”

Just exactly how demanding MLS can be is something Castillo didn’t expect. Since making his debut against the San Jose Earthquakes on March 26, Castillo said he realizes how challenging the league is.

“When I came here, many Colombian people were telling me that the league was bad for me and that I was too young. They told me that the league was easy,” Castillo said. “But [MLS is] a very competitive league, and the truth is that I would like to see those who told me the league was easy to come here and see for themselves.”

The Colombian U-20 national teamer is also pleased in his place of work in Frisco.

“I like this stadium. I love it. I think it’s one of the best that I’ve played in,” he said. “I also love the city. It’s very pretty and it’s calm.”

In his spare time, Castillo likes driving around Frisco looking for new things, particularly going to the local mall and buying new clothes.

At night, when Pareja comes home from FC Dallas Academy practices, he can hear Castillo playing salsa music in his room and talking with his Colombians friends about his experience stateside.

In the clubhouse, where there is no shortage of Latin American players, Castillo feels right at home. Jair Benitez, Milton Rodriguez and David Ferreira, all Colombians, have welcomed their countryman with open arms.

But the person with whom Castillo has struck a solid friendship with is speedy Honduran winger Marvin Chavez.

“I talk a lot with Marvin,” said Castillo. “He’s a great teammate and a person that helps me out. When I can’t drive home, he takes me to my house after practice. All of that is great. I am very thankful to God for them and one day I am going to give them everything back that they have done for me.”