Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tijuana fullback Edgar Castillo grabs hold of starting position in surprise win over Monterrey

wo left backs with on the periphery of the U.S. national team are duking it out for minutes. No, this isn't Major League Soccer.

Instead, south of the border, in Tijuana, Texan-born Greg Garza and Edgar Castillo, who is only the second player in history to suit up for both the Mexican and U.S. national teams, want the starting spot for the Xolos.

It's fair to say, two games into the season, New Mexico-born Castillo is winning that particular tussle. He was handed a second start with Garza left out of the roster against Monterrey.

At 20, Garza's time will come. For now, Castillo has a firm grip on the starting role.

Xolos coach Antonio Mohamed said the decision was "purely tactical. Greg's fine [physically], and I wanted to give Edgar some time on the pitch. [Greg] will play with the U20's tomorrow."

Mohamed was rewarded for his decision. Castillo played a "wonderful game" in which Tijuana beat Monterrey 1-0 thanks to a last-minute goal from Javier Gandolfi.

"I'm content with the three points," Castillo told “It's good to win at home, it's fundamental."

Especially since newly-promoted Tijuana will likely have a relegation fight on its hands during the clausura season.

Fellow strugglers Atlas and Tecos lost this weekend, giving the Xolos an early leg up. Castillo knows it's too early to concern himself with others' results, though.

"The victory is what helps us," he said. "We worry about ourselves and not other teams. They will already know what to do, we should continue like this and continue winning home and away."

The 25-year-old is new to threats of relegation. He's also new to Tijuana. The former Santos Laguna and America fullback says he's settling quickly.

"I'm comfortable, happy and that is what counts," he said. "[With] my teammates and the fans I feel very good in Tijuana."

More starts and more injury-time winners will certainly help maintain his early happiness.

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