The future looks bright for Nelson Castro.
The 14-year-old Houston native was named winner of the 2010 Sueño MLS on Sunday morning, beating out 14 other finalists to take the top spot.
Watch: Sueño MLS tryouts, L.A.
“I’m really happy that I won out of so many players,” Castro said. “I didn’t think I was going to be the winner, but things happen. I’m just so excited.”
The final announcement was made at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on Univision’s popular sports program, “República Deportiva.” The fifteen players were first narrowed down to five, and then two, before Castro was crowned champion.
“I never thought I was going to get to the final two,” he admitted. “This experience has helped me a lot. The coaches we had were really good and the level of play was out of this world.”
The Sueño MLS finalists arrived in Los Angeles last Wednesday and were put through a series of professional-style training sessions and scrimmages by coaches Alfonso Mondelo, Teofilio “Nene” Cubillas and Marcelo Balboa. The three coaches, who also served as the 2010 Sueño MLS judges, then made their decision based on the players’ performances during the experience.
"Nelson showed a lot of consistency over the four days in Los Angeles,” Mondelo said. “For his age, he has a great sense of positioning and maturity. He organized the defense during games and was very vocal. We loved his tenacity and the way he defends. He has great anticipation and reads the game well."
Along with being named the winner of Sueño MLS, Castro will also receive an invitation to join one of the Houston Dynamo Youth Academy teams when he returns home to Texas. For the young defender, it’s just another step toward attaining his lofty goals.
“I want to get to the boys' national team and play in the [U-17] World Cup next year,” said Castro. “Then I’d like to progress from there and play with the Dynamo, and then finish in Europe.”
Finishing second to Castro was sixteen-year-old Oscar Barraza. The Elgin, Ill., native was disappointed not to win, but proud of his accomplishment.
“Coming in second is good, but it’s not great,” he said. “I’m really competitive—I wanted to win. But it’s still a good feeling.”
While Barraza and Castro were certainly deserving of high praise for their strong performances all week, all fifteen of the finalists showed promising talent during their time in Sueño MLS. And regardless of the final results of the tryout, each player gained a wealth of knowledge and experience from his time in Los Angeles.
“This experience was amazing,” Barraza said. “We got to meet so many professional players and we got to learn new things about soccer. It’s been great.”