August 23, 2007
Ignored by USA; welcomed in Mexico

Edgar Castillo, who was born and raised in the USA, debuted for the Mexican national team on Aug. 22. The 20-year-old explained why he chose to represent his ancestral country rather than the USA: "I have dual citizenship. I am a Mexican-American. And I decided to play for Mexico because the other side never called me."

When Edgar was a young teen growing up in Las Cruces, N.M., his Strikers FC coach Linda Lara scraped up money to send him to ODP tryouts. She said the response she heard from ODP coaches was, "He's so small. He's so small."

But Castillo, now 5-foot-9, tried out for Mexican First Division club Santos Laguna in 2005 and has been a starter since January of 2007. Still, he received no contact from the U.S. national team program.

The U.S. national team fields players who are subs on their European clubs or see no league action at all. Yet its coaches don't even show interest in a Mexican First Division starter.

That just doesn't make sense.

(I wrote about Castillo and other Mexican-Americans heading south in the May issue of Soccer America: Young U.S. Talent Heads South).