Fabian Castillo has now played 100 Major League Soccer matches with FC Dallas, but never one quite like that.
The 22-year-old had perhaps his national coming out party on Saturday night in San Jose with two goals and an assist in FCD’s 5-0 franchise record-setting road win.
“I have more confidence in myself. The coach gives me more confidence to play,” Castillo said through a translator after Saturday’s win. “Every year I get better and I’m doing a lot of individual work with the coaches. One is always trying to get better and I think I’m practicing hard and getting better every year.”
It’s not easy to overshadow a hat-trick like the one we saw from rookie Tesho Akindele, but Castillo was simply unplayable for the San Jose defense on Saturday night having a direct hand in the first four goals before subbing out in the 77th minute. The Colombian extended his streak of games with a goal or an assist to ten matches in MLS & USOC play, and set a personal single-season high with eight MLS goals.
“I think I used to be a very predictable player and now I know how to move a lot better and change things up,” Castillo said about how his game has evolved. “I think that I’m a much better player in that sense.”
It’s now 12 goals in all competitions for Castillo who scored in every round of FCD’s journey to the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and had the first two-goal performance of his quickly-rising career on Saturday night. For his coach, it’s what Castillo is doing without the ball that is bringing everything together for him when he does find time and space.
“[Fabian] has a better understanding of what his responsibilities are without the ball,” Oscar Pareja said on Saturday. “When you have a player who understands that he is a team player and not out on an island but a part of the team, everything comes together…Now he’s sacrificing, now he’s working and making the tactical movements and everything comes together for him.”
With the win, Dallas extends their MLS unbeaten streak to nine matches, avenging their last loss to this very San Jose team on May 31st. Some positive results around Major League Soccer on Saturday mean that Oscar Pareja’s side currently sits three points behind Real Salt Lake for first place in the conference and in extremely comfortable position for an MLS Cup playoff spot.
“Today we were solid defensively, mre organized tactically and that helped us,” said Pareja. “It’s one of those nights where we put everything together, but as they said in the locker room we’re moving on. Everyone here is thinking about Salt Lake already.”