SuperLiga 2009 Final Tigres UANL v Chicago Fire

Edgar Castillo's switch to the US National Team has weaved its way through the mystery-filled halls of FIFA, and the young Mexican-American fullback will now be available to play for the country of his birth next month.

A massive coup for Bob Bradley, Castillo's reversal gives the Americans a new, and potential much better, option at the tricky left back position. While Castillo's abilities immediately put him at the top of the list for a starting spot, it's incumbent upon Bradley and his staff to work the young player into the lineup, rather than to allow him to walk into the team without first earning his place.

During the calendar year of '09, Bradley has slowly worked the players available to him into a solid team; while still likely an unfinished product, the first eleven as they are now constituted give the Americans a chance to win every game they play. Still, the back line has been tricky, especially at the outside back positions, and turnover there has been significant; Jonathan Spector would appear to be the first choice on the right with Steve Cherundolo behind him, while the left side has seen several different players come and go without any real answers being found.

Carlos Bocanegra has filled in admirably there in recent months, and it is the position he plays at Rennes in France; but Boca's natural position in the middle, and even with the emergence of Jay DeMerit, there's no reason to believe that he will be the permanent solution there. What Bocanegra adds in defensive know-how is offset by his lack of speed and attacking contribution. Jonathan Bornstein, a more natural left back with decent attacking skills, has been proven to be out of his depth in international competition to this point, and cannot be relied on going forward.

Which brings us to Castillo. Faster than Bocanegra and a better threat in attack while more seasoned and comfortable on the ball than Bornstein, Castillo appears to be an immediate candidate to start, simply because he is an upgrade over the other available options in almost every regard, even if his defensive talents are still rather raw. With speed and crossing ability, and potentially playing behind the ultra-active Landon Donovan, Castillo could be dynamic. It's an intriguing possibility, and many of us can't wait to see it in action.

But does that mean Bob Bradley should just hand over a starting spot to a new player?

Of course not.

Trust me, I want to see Castillo in action as much as anyone; if nothing else, he's a different player and a new wrinkle added to a team still growing into itself after an up and down 2009. Castillo's abilities are numerous, and while the fact that he's an unknown-yet-much-hyped quantity for many of us may skew our view of his quality, it certainly can't be wrong to give him a run out.

But handing over the keys to the left back spot without any "vetting process" would be the wrong way to go. Although the National Team is together only sporadically, there is a team dynamic; players consistently picked create an identity and a camaraderie that can easily be disrupted if the head coach does not carefully manage personalities.

I certainly expect Bradley to put Castillo into the team slowly and with purpose. Despite his talents, Castillo has not as of yet made a senior appearance on the international level; butterflies will be in high supply for at least his first few matches, something that the Americans cannot afford in meaningful game (or as long as qualification is not secured).

Castillo might be the best American left back. He may very well end up starting for the United States in the World Cup next year. He could be the answer to a difficult question that Bob Bradley has yet to truly crack.

He just can't be allowed to "walk into" a starting job. He should have to earn it.

An ancillary question that came to mind as I wrote this: When all of Bradley's defensive options are available, and provided Castillo breaks into the starting lineup, who sits? DeMerit or Bocanegra?
blog comments powered by Disqus
    KKTC Bahis Siteleri, Online Bahis



    Privacy Policy