Monday, December 21, 2009

Cristian Castillo

Once every offseason, one MLS team brings aboard a young promising attacking player from CONCACAF. In 2008 it was Marco Pappa. In 2009 it was Freddy Montero. And in 2010, it will be Cristian Castillo.

DC United finalized a loan last week to bring Salvadoran left midfielder Castillo to DC. In various different highlights, including the one below, it's clear that Castillo has excellent ball skills. Even more impressive though was his header over Frankie Hejduk during World Cup Qualifying. Not only does Castillo give us a new element of speed in our attack, which is something that has been long missing for United, but he also gives us another target for Santino Quaranta's crosses.

Cristian Castillo's defensive abilities and crossing skills are not obviously evident from the highlight reels, but that could just be because those aren't exactly as sexy as his dribbling. Castillo is certainly quick, and he's good on the ball. Which actually makes me think of another midfielder who came here highly regarded and with a similar skill set: Fred. Hopefully Castillo adjusts better to our style of play, but if he requests his jersey to say "CRISTIAN", I'll really be nervous.

Castillo's speed will undoubtedly be a great asset for DC United, and his Salvadoran heritage is sure to put fans in the seats. I'm just hoping his sometimes over-the-top dribbling doesn't hold us back.

Here's a prediction though:
If Cristian Castillo plays in almost every game for DCU this season, he will be one of the top 5 fouled players in MLS.


Fullback said...

Minor niggle: Montero is Columbian (CONMEBOL, not CONCACAF).

As long as he's not just a show pony (some of the "highlights" seems like pointless dancing), I don't care if Castillo wants "Chupacabra" on his shirt. I'm more worried that the FO is signing players before a coach at this point. What point is there in having a flashy winger if the coach doesn't have a use for him in his setup?

Chest Rockwell said...

I don't want the kind of coach who can't find a use for Castillo to be in charge of this club. MLS is packed with coaches who value workrate over skill, and it leads to the one charge agaist MLS (style of play) that can't be argued against.

Maybe it sounds cavalier, but I'll take Castillo occasionally losing the ball due to dribbling too long in exchange for his ability to create numerous quality chances per game. We could use another risk-taker, provided he takes the right risks and not the Fred-style "let me run at this crowd of defenders" risks.

Castillo has a similar skill set to Fred, true, but his leaping ability is better and his dribbling has more of a purpose. Considering Fred's problems are his terrible finishing and his inability to turn bags of skill into an end product, that basically means Castillo should be Fred without Fred's issues. Hopefully, that "should" becomes an "is".

Fullback said...

"Castillo has a similar skill set to Fred, true, but his leaping ability is better and his dribbling has more of a purpose."

You're basing this on what? A few looks against the Nats and some YouTube compilations that often don't show/have an end product? Most of what I've seen is wonderful displays of beating guys, cutting back, and holding...holding...holding.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for skill players, and I'm not above leaping out of my seat for a fantastic individual display on occasion, but I'd rather see productive "pass & move" skill than fancy-pants dribbling exhibitions.

Of course, my entire argument is based on Castillo being little more than a dribbler with an impressive vertical. Maybe he's got a better tool set than that, but I'd much rather have the guy who's going to be setting out the team determine that than Dave Kasper.

I seem to recall that Franco Niell had an impressive vertical as well...

Shatz... said...

FB- I'm with you in that I don't want to be too hasty in judging this guy purely on his youtube highlights. Because like I said, you never see any good defending or good crossing in those highlights, and like you said, its hard to tell if his dribbling skills ever lead to anything productive.

But on the other hand, our starting left midfielder for most of the past three seasons was Fred. Can we at least all agree that Castillo is probably an upgrade over Fred?

Fullback said...

I don't think we can take that as a given, no. I'm sure somebody could put together a highlights package of Fred's first season (and bits of the other two) that looks just as impressive. Or, for consistency, throw in clips from his time in Australia.

Hell, Fred scored as many goals in his first season with United as Castillo has scored in the last three and half years (all I can find records for), and I'm willing to bet that MLS defenses are a bit stingier than the Salvadoran ones Castillo faced for the first three of those years.

Even in these last two "disappointing" years, Fred's production in front of net (and we all know his current woes) matches what Castillo has been able to post.

I know that stats can be deceiving, and I don't have any solid info on how many assists Castillo tallied, but long gone are the days when Kasper's judgement of talent gets a free pass. Seeing will be believing for this jaded blogger.

Promising? Yes. Guaranteed success? No.

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