Ever since traveling from Cali, Colombia to Frisco at the age of just 18, Fabian Castillo has shown flashes of greatness to suggest that FC Dallas may have a starlet who could become one of the most electrifying players in MLS as his career develops.
However, seemingly as many times as Castillo would leave a defender in his dust, the youngster would make a poor decision sending a gilt-edged chance wide or shooting when a teammate was unmarked at the back post. Knowing what kind of raw talent they had on their hands, the FC Dallas coaching staff has worked tirelessly on decision making with the maturing Colombian to the tune of 20 extra minutes after practice nearly every session and the results are beginning to show.
While the 21-year-old was previously known as primarily a goal scorer, he’s turned provider as the FCD offense has roared back to life. After logging seven assists in his previous 69 games in the league, Castillo boasts five assists in his last five matches, clearly playing at a higher level than ever before.
WATCH: Diaz volleys Castillo's brilliant cross
“I think Fabian’s playing probably the best soccer of his life,” said Head Coach Schellas Hyndman. “One thing you deal with in young players is inconsistency and that’s what we’ve been going through. We’ve seen some wonderful moments from him and then some ugly moments and I think what you’re starting to see now is that those wonderful moments are happening more often and continuing.”
Never one to lack a solid analogy, Hyndman equates Castillo’s evolution on the field to one nearly every journalist has struggled with in the classroom.
“It’s like any of us say we’re not good at math and we keep studying, get tutoring and going to class but we can’t get it,” Hyndman continued. “Suddenly one day you get it and it makes sense. I think that’s where Fabian is. At times you look at him and think wow he may be the best player on the field for us. He’s playing that well, but cautiously we all know he’s still young, but I think he’s playing his best soccer.”
While his goal scoring numbers are down with two goals from 27 games this year compared to his career-best tally of six from a season ago, a Fabian Castillo that can provide service to traditional goal scorers like Blas Perez, Kenny Cooper and Jackson seems to make FCD a more dangerous team overall, evidenced by the thirteen goals scored by Dallas in the last six games.
And if you think Castillo minds playing provider rather than scorer, think again.
“I feel almost the same happiness as if I was scoring a goal,” Castillo said through a translator. “Having the assist at the end helps us to get what’s important which is the result. In playing well and being able to provide assists for other players to score, I’m helping the team to score and add points which is at the end what we’re all looking for. I celebrate an assist almost as much as if I had scored.”
At just 21 with a soccer IQ growing every day, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Castillo, who rose seven spots from #22 to #15 in this year’s MLSsoccer.com “24 Under 24” list, could vault himself into one of the best young players in MLS and key cornerstones of the FC Dallas offense for years to come.