COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Colorado Rapids midfielder Jaime Castrillón is just returning to the field after a lengthy knee injury, but he’s already drawing the interest of his old Colombian club.
Castrillón says he was directly contacted by Independiente Medellín “a few weeks ago” and they have expressed an interest in bringing him back home.
The 30-year-old native of Puerto Nare, Colombia, started his professional career with Independiente and made 276 appearances for the club between 2002 and 2011 before signing for the Rapids early last year. Castrillón also has 29 career appearances with the Colombian national team.
“There are discussions, there’s a possibility of me going to Medellín, but there’s nothing concrete,” Castrillón told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “And we have to wait in the next few weeks to see what happens.”
There’s a little gap of information depending on whom you talk to – Castrillón says the talks are ongoing while technical director Paul Bravo says he hasn’t spoken to Independiente since the offseason, when there were also discussions about returning Castrillón to Colombia. But Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja helped clear up why Bravo and the Colorado front office haven’t recently spoken with Medellín.
“It’s simply that Medellín has shown an interest for Jaime Castrillón,” said Pareja, a Medellín native who played for Independiente from 1987-95. “And it’s just normal, because we have history in Medellín, Jaime and I, and they contacted us because of the language [barrier]. The next step, and I told them, and Jaime as well, that they need to get official contact with the club and express what they want.”
That’s a problem, however. Castrillón is under contract with the Rapids, making any such contact illegal. Pareja told the Colombian club to speak with the proper people, Paul Bravo and/or team president Tim Hinchey, regarding Castrillón. But, Bravo said on Wednesday that Independiente hadn’t recently contacted him.
Castrillón only made his season debut with the Rapids on June 15 after battling a knee ailment that sidelined him for more than six months. The attacking midfielder has made three appearances (one start) so far this season after starting 29 games for Colorado in 2012.
But Pareja and Bravo made it clear that, with the team mired in a recent scoring drought, they intend to hold onto Castrillón, who led Colorado with eight goals in 2012. And the player himself doesn't appear in any hurry to leave.
“The truth is I’m happy here in Colorado,” Castrillón said. “The people have treated us well. My wife, my family is happy here.”
But the Rapids did not close the door on a possible move, although Pareja and Bravo indicated that it would take a significant offer for them to send their leading scorer from a year ago – and Pareja’s first signing after taking over as head coach – back to Colombia.
"We’re looking at every possible angle on how we can make our club a better team," Bravo said. "We have to take everything into consideration, but at this point, he’s in our plans.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.