CARSON, Calif. — After a false dawn several years ago, Edgar Castillo is ready to finally make his mark for his club and his country.
Once an object of scorn from US fans for his selection to represent Mexico, it’s been an interesting journey for the 24-year-old thus far, to say the least. Castillo eventually turned his back on Mexico before logging a senior cap for El Tri, and debuted for the US squad in Oct. 2009, but has yet to catch head coach Bob Bradley’s eye ever since.
Still, Castillo has hopes of finally earning his way onto Bob Bradley’s squad ahead of 2014 World Cup qualifying. He looks to be a key contributor for Club América during the Apertura 2011, which kicks off in two weeks, and he has been a key part of the lineup for las Águilas as they continue their preseason in the US.
While focused primarily on earning his spot with América, Castillo has kept a keen eye on the US team, but reports he has not been in any contact with Bradley or any other members of US Soccer. With his speed and ability to press forward, Castillo has been among the outsider options for the Americans’ much-maligned left back position.
Following a match against fellow Mexican Primera División club Atlas at the Home Depot Center on Wednesday, Castillo admitted that after watching the United States’ collapse during the Gold Cup final, he was left with one thought: He could have done better.
"I watched the Gold Cup and when [Jonathan] Bornstein came in, everything went down from there,” Castillo said of Mexico's come-from-behind 4-2 win. “To tell you the truth, I was watching at home and I was thinking I could have been there, but coulda-woulda, I can't say anything.”
Castillo was a catalyst for América in their third preseason match of the summer Wednesday, going 82 minutes against Atlas while creating several chances. The Mexico City giants next play their first of three games in the World Football Challenge on Saturday, when they take on Manchester City at AT&T Park in San Francisco (8 pm ET, TeleFutura).
While the New Mexico native considers himself a left back, Castillo spent the majority of the Atlas match playing at left wing, where he was able to get more involved in the attack.
His output was not just limited to the attack, though, as he also made several big stops tracking back and helping to stop Atlas breaks towards goal.
Castillo said it was the first time he played in that position for América, but head coach Carlos Reinoso’s faith is a comfort for a player that has bounced around the Mexican league over the last few years. Finally cemented at América and poised for first-team action, Castillo is understandably eager for a chance to prove that he can perform for one of Mexico’s glamour clubs.
“My hopes are high,” Castillo said. “I've been all over. Now I get to come back to América, and I'm telling you, I'm very happy to be back. They've given me a second chance to come back, and I've got to do things right to be a starter.”
If Castillo can earn a spot on América, then perhaps a call-up to the US squad isn’t far off. Although he may be playing in an advanced role this season, he still feels that his future lies at the left back spot and hopes that with his impressive speed and skills that he can provide the remedy the US have long been seeking.
“I've played there all my life,” Castillo said. “If I get called up and do things right, why not win that spot?”
Adam Serrano writes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano