Photo by ISIphotos.com
About 20 months ago, Edgar Castillo made what he thought would be the last decision he would have to make regarding his national team future.
The U.S. born-and-raised defender chose to play for Mexico after being courted by former Mexico head coach Hugo Sanchez and after establishing himself as one of the best young defenders in the Mexican First Division. He played for the Mexican Under-23 national team and appeared in a handful of friendlies for Mexico, so when he turned 21 it looked like he would be Mexico's forever.
That was before FIFA's recent rule change allowing players like Castillo, players eligible for multiple national teams, to switch national teams regardless of age as long as they had never appeared in an official senior competition for either country. Castillo has yet to play for Mexico in an official competition and can therefore still play for the United States.
Two years ago, when Castillo chose Mexico, things were going so well for him that you couldn't really blame him for feeling his future was with 'El Tri', but things have changed quite a bit since then.
In the time since he turned 21, Castillo made a move from Santos Laguna to Club America, where he has struggled. He has yet to make an appearance in an official match for Mexico, with both Hugo Sanchez and Sven-Goran Eriksson passing up chances to give Castillo a chance in an official match.
Now, with FIFA's rule changed, Castillo could choose to play for the U.S. national team, where he stands a much better chance of playing because left back is the weakest position in the national team pool.
Will Castillo consider making a change like German-born midfielder Jermaine Jones is planning to do? Almost two years ago, Castillo was adamant that he would not play for the United States.
"Even if they call, I'm not going to come," Castillo told SI.com, referring to the U.S. national team. "I already told them that I'm staying with Mexico."
Castillo said that when he thought playing in the 2008 Olympics for Mexico would happen (Mexico failed to qualify), he said that when he thought he had a Mexican national team place in his immediate future (has yet to be used in anything but friendlies in two years) and he said that when he was at the top of his game in the Mexican First Division (Castillo struggled for a place with Club America).
Now, Castillo failed to be called up by new Mexico head coach Javier Aguirre for Mexico's recent qualifiers and he was also left out of Mexico's squad for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, with Carlos Salcido and Fausto Pinto the left backs on the roster.
Will he reconsider now that he has another chance to play for the country where he was born and raised? Will Mexican manager Javier Aguirre call up Castillo and cap tie him? Will Castillo speak to Jose Francisco Torres and Michael Orozco about what their experiences with the United States have been like? Will U.S. fans accept a player who has worn the Mexican uniform before (albeit in friendlies)? Will he look at the lack of competition for the U.S. team's left back position and decide that it's time to play for his native country?
We will find out soon enough, possibly as soon as Aug. 12th, when the U.S. national team faces Mexico at Azteca. If Aguirre were smart, he would call in Castillo and give him a cap in that game, which would not only keep a quality prospect from joining an arch-rival, but would also offer a symbolic victory for Mexico, who could use one over the United States these days.
Whether Castillo lets that all happen remains to be seen. He has another choice to make and it shouldn't be assumed that he will make the same choice again. His absence from the Gold Cup roster just might serve as the latest evidence to show Castillo that he may not have the future with Mexico that he once thought he had.
What do you think of Castillo's situation? Are you hoping he changes his mind? Would you be against having a player who once played for Mexico playing for the United States? Think he'll snub the United States again?
Share your thoughts below.