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Is Edgar the answer at left back for USA?
by Mike Woitalla, November 18th, 2009 7AM

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[WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN] He was born and raised in the USA, but wore the Mexican national team jersey before his native land showed interest in his talents. Now, thanks to new eligibility rules, Edgar Castillo is on the verge of playing for the USA. Coach Bob Bradley can give the 23-year-old a chance to prove himself when the USA faces Denmark on Wednesday (2:30 pm ET, ESPN Classic).

Edgar Castillo grew up in Las Cruces, N.M., the son of Carlos Castillo.

Carlos Castillo immigrated to the USA in 1983, at age 22, because he could earn more money picking peppers, lettuce and onions north of the border than he could as a machinist in Mexico.

"You made 30 or 40 bucks a day working in the hot sun," Carlos Castillo said. "In Mexico, I got my diploma as a machinist, but I couldn't make that kind of money. I love green bills, not the peso. Mexico is beautiful, but it's poor."

Edgar went the opposite direction for a career opportunity. Despite starring in high school and youth ball, he saw no future for himself in the USA. His youth coach, Linda Lara, funded his trips to Olympic Development Program (ODP) tryouts, where coaches constantly assessed him as too small.

In 2005, Edgar and his younger brother Noel attended a tryout for young players at Santos, which is based in Torreon, his parents' hometown. Out of the 300 players, they were among the eight who were chosen and offered long-term contracts.

Edgar debuted for the first team a year later and won a starting spot as left back. Still, the U.S. national team program coaches didn't contact him, so when he was invited to play for Mexico, he accepted the invitation. He played in friendly games for the full national team and in Olympic qualifying with Mexico's U-23 national team. In the meanwhile, he helped Santos win a league championship.

Earlier this year, FIFA raised the age at which players who hadn't played in official competition for the full national team could switch allegiances. Mexico coach Javier Aguirre left Castillo out of his squads and Castillo decided to represent the USA, which was finally interested in him.

Castillo, who now plays for UNAL Tigres, plays a role that the Mexicans call carrilero: a player who flies up and down the wing. The fact that he does this on the left side makes him all the more valuable.

U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra plays left back for his French club Rennes, but the USA needs him in the center. Neither Jonathan Bornstein nor Heath Pearce have nailed down the left back position. And Castillo could also vie for a spot as a left-sided midfielder.

For more on Castillo from Soccer America's archives, click HERE.

 

 



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