By JOSE M. ROMERO
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Edgar Castillo has kept up with the latest goings-on for the U.S. men's national team, and he's ready for another chance to represent his country of birth. He just needs the opportunity to arise.
The midfielder/defender from New Mexico — in Arizona last Sunday to play in the inaugural Monsoon Classic, a Mexican First Division preseason match between his side, Club America, and Morelia — is anxiously awaiting a call from U.S. Soccer to play again on the international stage. Asked what he sees from the Americans based on how they've fared of late, the 24-year-old Castillo got to the point.
"That I could play there," Castillo said. "You watch the game and you talk about them, but it's a whole different thing on the field."
Castillo played in friendlies for Mexico before taking advantage of the FIFA rule that allowed him, as an American citizen, to switch countries, having not played in an official competition for Mexico. But he hasn't played for the United States since November, 2009, in a friendly against Denmark that was his first and only U.S. cap.
There's a case for Castillo to perhaps soon find his place on the U.S. roster. The United States could use some help in the form of speed on a backline — specifically Castillo's preferred left side — that was picked apart by Mexico in the Gold Cup, and Castillo certainly has that.
He showed flashes of brilliance on the ball and in recovery on defense in his 62-plus minutes at University of Phoenix Stadium against Morelia, and apparently impressed Portland Timbers technical director Gavin Wilkinson in his 45-minute stint in Club America's 1-0 victory over Portland at Jeld-Wen Field last week.
Also, it looks like Castillo is finally going to get the long look from the Club America technical staff he's been seeking for some time. Club America has loaned Castillo out to three other teams in Mexico for parts of three seasons since 2009, most recently to Puebla.
"His job over the next six months is to win a starting spot (for Club America)," Castillo's agent Eddie Rock said.
Added Castillo: "I'm very happy to be back. I've been in the Mexican League with five clubs now and I get to come back and do my best and be a starter."
Castillo makes a salary in Mexico that could be compared to MLS Designated Player money stateside. But he remains connected to his family, members of which made the four-to-five-hour drive from Las Cruces, N.M., for his match Sunday.
His goals in soccer are set. One is to win a Mexican club title. The other?
"Why not go to the World Cup in Brazil?" Castillo said.