Castillo: “I Would Play For The United States”

By Brooke Tunstall - CHARLOTTE, NC (Jun 29, 2009) USSoccerPlayers -- The United States National Team just might get back one that got away.

New Mexico native Edgar Castillo, who seemed unlikely to ever play for the country of his birth after representing Mexico’s Under-23 team in Olympic qualifying, said recently he’d be willing to take advantage of a new FIFA rule allowing players cap-tied at the youth National Team level to switch National Teams.

“I would play for the United States,” Castillo said during a recent phone interview from Mexico, where he is preparing for the upcoming Mexican League season with Tigres. “I’d want to talk to them first, but I want to play for the US. I think it would be a very good opportunity for me, for my career. If they call me I would play for them. “

Castillo, a 22-year old left-footed player who plays both wide midfield and defense, grew up in Las Cruces, N.M. and was his state’s high school player of the year as a sophomore. But he never got much attention from the US youth National Team setup whom, he said, deemed the 5-foot-8 Castillo too small.

After high school Castillo signed with Santos in his parents’ native Mexico and worked his way through their system to become a starter on the team that won the 2008 Clausura championship. His play for Santos caught the attention of then-Mexican National Team coach Hugo Sanchez and Castillo played in a pair of friendlies with El Tri’s senior team in 2007 and last year started on the U23 team’s failed bid to qualify for the 2008 Olympics.

Failing to qualify for Beijing cost Sanchez his job and neither his successor, Sven-Goran Eriksson nor current boss Javier Aguirre have used Castillo in World Cup Qualifying and he wasn’t named to the roster for next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

“It’s been hard for me because (Mexico) switched coaches three times,” said Castillo. “Hugo Sanchez, he seemed to like me. He gave me my first games. Then (Eriksson) played me in one (friendly). Aguirre called me into one camp but I didn’t play and I haven’t been back. I don’t think I’m in his plans.”

The CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers were official FIFA games and permanently cap-tied Castillo to Mexico, or so he thought.  But earlier this month FIFA passed a rule that allowed players with dual citizenship to switch National Teams if they had only been cap-tied at the youth National Team level. Because the games Castillo played for Mexico’s senior team were friendlies, he is eligible to switch allegiances to the United States.

When Castillo heard about FIFA’s new rule, he “knew I had a chance to play for the US again.”

Castillo admitted he was once bitter towards the American soccer establishment for overlooking him but that those feelings have faded over time. “Right now I just want to do what is best for my career and my family.”

Castillo said he hasn’t heard from the US Soccer Federation since FIFA’s rule change and he’s waiting until he does before he petitions FIFA to switch National Teams, a formality that must be completed if he’s going to play for the US.

Castillo said he’s been following the US in the Confederations Cup and is aware that left back has been a question mark for US coach Bob Bradley.  “They have a lot of good players. I don’t think I’d come in and be handed anything. But I’d like a chance to compete” for a starting spot. Castillo added that he has chatted about playing for the US with fellow Mexico-based Mexican Americans Jose Francisco Torres of Pachuca and Michael Orozco of San Luis.

If he plays for the US, Castillo would join Martin Vasquez as the only players to represent both the US and Mexican senior teams. Vasquez played for Mexico in some friendlies in the early 90s before becoming a US citizen and helping the National Team qualify for France 98.

Castillo transferred to Mexican power Club America in January but they recently lent him to Tigres, a move that reunites him with Daniel Guzman, his coach at Santos. Castillo doesn’t expect Guzman to have any issues with him playing for the US. “He knows I have to do what is best for me.”

FIFA’s new rule doesn’t take effect until early August and Castillo is well-aware of where the Americans’ first game after he’d be eligible to play for them is. “It’s at Azteca!” he said of the August 12th qualifier at Mexico City’s famed Azteca Stadium.

Despite that being Club America’s home stadium, Castillo doesn’t expect a warm greeting if he plays for the US. “They’ll probably hate me,” he said with a laugh.

Veteran sportswriter Brooke Tunstall is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, NC. He can be reached at BrookeTunstall@aim.com

11 Responses to Castillo: “I Would Play For The United States”

  1. Sporting Xixon says:

    “…Right now I just want to do what is best for my career and my family…”

    His reasoning divulged.

  2. Mike D. says:

    @Sporting Xixon – are those bad reasons to want to play for the National Team? He’s both Mexican and American, so it’s not like he’d say “I want to switch because I like the U.S. more than I like Mexico.”

    And would Jermaine Jones be making the switch for any other reasons?

  3. Brian says:

    We’re not exactly loaded at his position. What’s to lose?

  4. Tommy says:

    Ah, who cares what his reason are, as long as he is willing to be a team player and give all he has. If his only reason to give everything he has out on the pitch is because of his family, then I can live with that.

  5. Brian-Indy says:

    I don’t blame him one bit for the career path he chose, he really had no other choice but to go to Mexico and develop as a player. We ignored him…plain and simple we ignored him so he was bitter. I would be as well. This is the perfect example of why we are so far behind the rest of the world in soccer, we can’t even identify our best players yet! Let the guy come in and talk to Bradley, Donovan, Boca and the rest. If he is going to come in with the right attitude and be able to help us then he should be called into camp as soon as he is available.

  6. Eduardo says:

    I´m mexican, and I just think this player is particularly stupid. Mexico and the US have a great rivalry that has increased due to the level showed by your country in the last semester. Do you really need a player who doesnt love your shirt? I know now that he doesn´t care much about Mexico, but I think he feels the same way about the US, he just wants to play a World Cup, doesn´t matter if it is Costa Rica who´s interested. Brian Indy: I don´t think you are far behind from the rest of the world, you just showed the world what the US are capable of.
    Looking forward to see your team at the Aztec stadium, its gonna be hell of a match..

  7. salvador says:

    i was born in Mexico but came to the U.S as a small kid n i got mad respect for both sides but this kid is just stupid first of all when he played for santos he got called up cause he was playing during that occasion and with america he turned into just a bench warmer and started crying about why he didnt play…..but by him saying hes just looking for what is better for him and his family that says it all he cares only for himself Landon Donovan said the other day he was proud of being american after his game wit brazil if this kid would of been really proud of where hes from then he would of chose USA since the beginning the place where he was born from not playing for mexico…..people with pride stick to their decisions not change their mind all of a sudden

  8. Andres says:

    what i would do instead of sayinf stuff like this is try to raise my playing level back to where it was back when he was getting called up by mexico and stop whining because of limited chances. yes you have limited chances, because you are not playing so well.

  9. Shubbz says:

    Yea I dont want him in our national team. The reason why the US MNT is improving is because our players have the right attitude and will to win games. This guy is selfish and I really doubt that he is a team player. I dont think he should come to the team if he doesnt really care about it. And we can have Benny play that position so its all good – we dont need him.

  10. WK says:

    The US will always have a difficult time identifying our ‘best’ players since our country is so large and populated, soccer is played within multiple organizations at the youth level (USYSO, AYSO, high school, etc) and our professional leagues haven’t yet developed the academies we need.

    With so many mexican-americans in this country, there are potentially hundreds of players like castillo that have may have dual loyalties. it’s got to be a tough decision choosing between the land of your heritage and parent’s birth or the country of opportunity and where you grew up. fact is, our countries are always going to be tied together

  11. Juan carlos says:

    this really is a tought decision,i too have both nationalities and i know what its like tohave to pick between the two, its about love to your heritage,but for him is about convenience. castillo is just frustrated because he was very good when he played with laguna then when he was transferred to americahis level dropped big time. like andres said,he needs to stop whining adn step up his game if he wants to get called up by either team, because i know the u.s. dont want no mediocre players who cant make up their mind and who dont want to step up.