American-born defender Edgar Castillo has been cleared by FIFA to play for the United States, meaning the questions can begin about whether he will eventually be the answer for the team at left back.
Jonathan Bornstein's disappointing showing vs. El Salvador served as a reminder of the lack of options at left fullback, with captain Carlos Bocanegra looking like the most reliable option there these days. The only problem with that is the fact that Bocanegra is one of the team's best central defense option. While Jonathan Spector does play left back for his club, West Ham, he is not a natural left back.
Enter Castillo, a skillful and quick left-footed player whose attacking qualities are unmatched in the U.S. national team left back pool, but whose defensive qualities aren't exactly strong. What is easily forgotten is just how young Castillo is. He's a month from his 23rd birthday and has already established himself as one of the better left backs in the Mexican First Division.
Castillo will be available for selection by the U.S. national team for next month's World Cup qualifiers at Honduras (Oct. 10) and vs. Costa Rica (Oct. 14). As promising a prospect as he is, it seems like a long-shot for him to step in and play a key role in either of those matches, but he could potentially earn a look. If Castillo gets his debut vs. Costa Rica, it would be pretty fitting considering it will have been a year earlier in the same stadium, RFK Stadium, where Jose Francisco Torres earned his first cap for the United States (in a 6-1 qualifying win vs. Cuba). That day, fans at the stadium displayed a sign that said "Torres>Castillo", sentiment that is likely to change now that Castillo is set to play for the country of his birth.
With the immediate club futures of both Heath Pearce and DaMarcus Beasley currently in limbo, options at left back are woefully slim, so Castillo should get a look this year. He is playing regularly for Tigres, which he helped to a SuperLiga title this summer. If he can strengthen the defensive aspects of his game, Castillo could quickly work his way up the depth chart. Offensively, he provides speed, good crosses and a willingness and ability to shoot, a combination that could earn him a serious look sooner rather than later.
What do you think of Castillo playing for the United States? Excited to see a new left back prospect? Feel weird about the fact that Castillo has played for Mexico in the past? Ready to let bygones be bygones if he can represent the United States well?
Share your thoughts below.