BRIAN SCIARETTA - Friday, September 2, 2011
The position of left back has long been the Achilles Heel of the US national team but Edgar Castillo is hoping for a solid effort in the upcoming friendlies to give the team a major boost moving forward.
Castillo, 24, is now back with US team for the third time in his career but unlike the two previous occasions, he will have the benefit of playing in a full camp to fit into the team.
"I am really happy to be called up again," Castillo told YA. "I've been called up twice before and the first time was a few years ago under Bob Bradley and I only played 30 minutes. Last month I got to play the full 90 and I am really excited to be back."
Like most of the players on the US team, Castillo is getting used to the coaching style of Jurgen Klinsmann who replaced Bob Bradley as coach in August. Castillo has so far been impressed initially by Klinsmann's relaxed approach.
When he was the coach of the German national team in 2006, Klinsmann earned the reputation as an offensive-minded coach that emphasized creativity. Castillo has found this to be true last month when he was encouraged to move forward into attack.
"He's a nice guy. He lets you play," Castillo stated. "He tells you what to do but he doesn't put pressure on you. Under him you are relaxed to play. He's a good coach. It's a different approach to the game than under Bob Bradley. Klinsmann was a great player and now as a coach he can teach you all the stuff he learned as a player. He knows what players think."
Castillo's game against Mexico last month in Klinsmann's debut was generally an uneven performance. In the first half, Castillo made noticeable mistakes with turnovers but he improved in the second half as the US team rallied for a 1-1 draw.
Castillo freely admits he was nervous on the occasion. The game had added meaning for him on two important and personal levels. On one hand, it was his first ever start for the United States and, second, it was a game against Mexico.
Castillo was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico to Mexican-born parents. As a young player, Castillo played for Mexico and he even started for El Tri's U-23 Olympic qualifying team in 2008. In 2009, he used his one-time switch to play for the United States.
Now playing for one of the biggest club's in Mexico at Club America, Castillo is still has many friends on the Mexican national team. It was a difficult experience for his first US start to come against a national team he once played for.
"I was a little nervous, to tell you the truth. I was nervous because it was my first US start and nervous because we were playing Mexico," Castillo admitted. "I played for Mexico in the past. I was nervous but as the game went on, the nerves went away."
Now with the US prepared to face Costa Rica and Belgium in the next few days, Castillo is excited and prepared.
"I think I'll still be a little bit nervous," Castillo discussed. "I'm always a little nervous but I'm also going to be excited. I am ready. Even if I don't play, I'll be happy to be there with the team."
Castillo has worked his way back into the US national team picture largely because of his recent play at Club American where he is the team's starting left back.
Castillo began his career with Santos Laguna and was a starter for the team that won the Mexican title in 2008. His solid play at Santos earned him a transfer to Club America in 2009.
Shortly after joining Club America his fortunes changed as he was set out on loan three consecutive times. He was first loaned to Tigres, then to San Luis, and finally to Puebla. With each passing loan he was earning fewer and fewer minutes.
During this past summer, however, his career has been rejuvenated in his return to Club America. Since the start of preseason, he has earned the trust of head coach Carlos Reinoso.
Looking back on the ups and downs of the recent years, Castillo is confident in his believe that the multiple loans have helped him as it has given him a new perspective on his career.
"It helped me," Castillo said of the three loans. "I've been all over the place. At San Luis I only played in [a few] games. At Puebla I played the first few games then I didn't even make the bench. But it all makes you think better and realize you belong to a club like America. When a club like America gives you a second chance to come back, I have to do my best. I'm doing my best."
Castillo is now playing in the high pressure of environment of one of Mexico's biggest clubs. He is aware of the pressure but attributes his growing maturity as the biggest factor that has helped him succeed this season.
"At a club like America, you always shoot to be the best team in Mexico," Castillo concluded. "It's a big club. If you don't do your best you could be gone. I'm more mature now. I have three kids. You have to look out for them so that they can have the best."