FRISCO, Texas -- Fabian Castillo came into the 2014 season with a lot to prove.
He struggled through the 2013 season and saw a significant drop in production. It took a little time, but the Colombian got himself into a groove over the last few months, and his last performance has led to growing calls he should be in the running for MLS Volkswagen MVP.
A run of 10 games across all competitions with a goal or an assist will do that. He showed the range of his influence last week in Dallas's commanding win over the San Jose Earthquakes, as he had a hand in four of his team's five goals.
“I think he just needs to keep playing like he’s been playing, this stretch of games, where he’s been brilliant,” said team captain Matt Hedges. “I think if he keeps doing that for the rest of the year and into the playoffs, and help us make a deep run I think [league MVP] is really possible.”
The winger has been one of the most electric players in the league this season in transition, and has been a big part of FC Dallas’ resurgence after a hard fall from the top of the league table in May. An eight-game winless streak saw the Texas club fall well outside the top tier, but Castillo has led the charge that has put Dallas within three points of the league lead once again.
“It’s really dangerous if teams let him pick up that ball in space and turn at defenders, especially in the middle of the field,” Hedges said. “If they let him turn, he’s going to find a way around them, pretty much every time.”
Head coach Oscar Pareja sees the same potential, but knows that there is a lot of soccer to be played, especially after last season, when Castillo registered only two goals and six assists. Helped by that 10-game run with a goal or an assist, Castillo now sits at eight goals and four assists in league play with 10 games remaining.
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And his coach wants to make sure his budding star keeps his feet on the ground amidst his recent success.
“Fabian needs to keep doing what he is doing, and even more,” said Pareja. “At this point, it means nothing. I always tell them you have to have character to overcome adversity, but at the same time, you have to have even more character to overcome success.”
“Sometimes when you are getting attention and things are bouncing your way all the time, naturally sometimes a human being tends to drop a level.”