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Nery Castillo Signs With Chicago: Fire Add Firepower

FUTBOL/SOCCER SELECCION MEXICANA AL CALOR DEL MOMENTO MEXSPORT DIGITAL IMAGE 24 March 2009: Action photo of Nery Castillo of the mexican team, during a press conference./Foto de accion de Nery Castillo de la seleccion mexicana, durante una conferencia de prensa. MEXSPORT/ETZEL ESPINOSA Photo via Newscom

Saturday July 17, 2010 will not be remembered by Fire fans as the day the Fire lost to the New England Revolution 1-0 at home in a Group B SuperLiga match-up but as the day help arrived to possibly save the 2010 Fire season. With the team clearly in a tailspin the Fire front office, true to their word to be active in the designated player market after the World Cup, added a former Mexican National team forward Nery Castillo to their line-up.

The Fire had promoted a player announcement to their fans during the intermission between the two SuperLiga games last night in Bridgeview. With their loyal fans having watched the Fire drop their fourth match in a row the crowd at least was put at ease now knowing that help in the form of a forward who can score was soon to arrive in the Windy City.

The 26 year old speedster with a touch for the ball when near the net comes to Chicago by way of a loan deal with Ukraine side Shakhtar Donetsk. The Fire will have an option to make the deal permanent however. Castillo is best known worldwide for his play in Greece with Olympiakos. Seven years in Greece saw him make over 100 appearances for that club and included him appearing in two Greek Cup winning sides and gain Champions League experience. In 2007 he was sold to the Ukrainian side where he was on board for a trip to the UEFA Cup while on their roster. He has notably had a brief loan spell with EPL side Manchester City.

To North American fans he is best remembered for his play in the 2007 Gold Cup. He was a spark plug for the Mexican team in that tournament being credited with getting the team to the Cup finals which took place in Chicago that year. The Mexican team lost to the US 2-1 in the final but Castillo made a name for himself with his home country. Most of his career has been in Europe as mentioned above and he does not bring along with him to Chicago a built in fan base from fans of a Mexican League club in Chicago’s large Mexican-American community. However, Chicago with coach Carlos de los Cobos and now Nery Castillo should be as popular with the Mexican –American fan base throughout the MLS as they were with Cuauhtémoc Blanco on the squad.

Speaking of Blanco, he has apparently decided to stay with a Mexican team for what must be his final days as a player. The rumor all along was that he would join the Fire again after the World Cup but that door now seems shut with his signing by the Mexican second division club Iraputo. While apparently serious negotiations did take place, no deal was done. I certainly do not know the real reason why Castillo became the choice but one must have to think the Fire made a good long term decision. The 11 year age difference is the most apparent feature but maybe Castillo can still have great years ahead of him while Blanco clearly has seen his best. In that event the MLS and the Fire may have made a decision that impacts the entire future of the league.

The reaction at Toyota Park was muted last night when the announcement was made. The early fan reaction judged from the Internet and other social media forums seems great but stating the need is a lot more. Technical Director Frank Klopas indicated that the Fire front office are not done with a player signings and at least the second designated player spot would be filled. The sights of the Klopas seem to be set on a midfielder but the rumored signing from an English team seems to have been ended by lack of interest of the player involved.

The Fire clearly need an anchor defender to aid a defense that has seemed badly disorganized at times. While Andrew Dykstra has generally performed well in the net he has not taken charge of the defense as Jon Busch did while in Chicago. He is in his first year as a starter and that will come but in the meantime a stable defense makes up for a keeper who is learning.

So, the team ownership has kept to their word and brought in a big name. This could not be soon enough as the Fire are 4th in the Eastern Conference and trail seven teams in points from the tough Western Conference of the MLS. Castillo will greatly aid the games of Patrick Nyarko, Marco Pappa, and Brian McBride and open room especially on the flanks for his teammates. If the Fire are going to even make the playoffs this season the next signing may be the most important decision that Fire management makes all season.

To sum it up: A work in progress, stay tuned for more.

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  1. nery who?

    July 31, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    For all of you talking about how Nery has proven him self over Chicharito let me tell you that in the last year Nery has only played a total for 98 minutes in three different teams. Including Manchester City, and the Shaktar- he has been a bench warmer for both his teams in Europe and the Mexican national team. The height of his career was in 2007 at the gold cup and it was all down hill from there. He was called to nearly all the official games of the national team and only started fights got red carded and made obscene statements to the Mexican press that got him into deep manure. Nery wasn’t even included on the initial roster for the Mexican team, but good luck I’m sure he’ll show his potential. If not at least you’ll watch him start fights and get red carded and be a diva.

  2. Joel

    July 31, 2010 at 5:19 am

    i would rather see nery…
    chicharito isnt all dat, he barely came up. ppl just overestimate cause of publicity…
    nery has been around and in da mls i believe he is gunna pick up his game again…

  3. alejandro

    July 20, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    lets b realistic nery isn’t on its best, right now i would prefer to see chicharito play, but nery should be able to gain more minutes on the pitch and raise his game , i believe it was a good signing for years to come not necessary for this season

  4. isaac

    July 19, 2010 at 9:05 pm


  5. free bet

    July 19, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    That castillo has a lot of future in him…

  6. eplnfl

    July 19, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Hope so. As one of the earlier comments said the Fire may have landed one of the top players in the league for years to come.

    • MEXICO

      July 19, 2010 at 4:47 pm

      Now that yall have a Mexican coach and DP, it’s time for you to learn Spanish. All the chants must be in Spanish, and you must call the sport “football” as the Mexicans do.

      Also, you must eat Mexican food all the time. I recommend a joint over on 26th and Ridgeway called Atotonilco.

      I’ll be at Toyota Park every game now, waving my huge Mexican flag and cheering for Nery every game. When he gets subbed for, however, I’ll leave.

  7. Bolacuadrada

    July 19, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I already paid to see Nery Castillo on August 1 at the Home Depot Center. Good job Chicago. Nery is a great addition to MLS.

  8. George Gorecki

    July 19, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Dykstra has generally performed well? I’ve seen every one of his games this season and the level of play in MLS is far beyond his capabilities right now. He may one day become a good goalkeeper, but he’s nowhere near being competent for MLS. He is lacking with respect to basic technical skills, positioning and reading the game.

    The Fire made a huge mistake in releasing Busch and thinking that they could compete with an inexperienced goalkeeper starting. When de los Cobos said that Dykstra outplayed Busch in the pre-season, he either was lying or is an incredibly poor judge of talent.

    • eplnfl

      July 19, 2010 at 12:08 pm

      George, I have to agree that Busch would have performed better this season. Dykstra is a project which at this point in things is going well. Is he ready to be named an All-Star yet, no. So, I view it as a good long term move. Replacing the quality defenders that left last year is still an issue by me. However, a midfielder is still necessary since Mapp is often hurt and up and down anyway and Rolff has not been replaced.

      • George Gorecki

        July 19, 2010 at 5:01 pm

        Dykstra is not an All-Star, that’s for sure. He’s not even starter-caliber for MLS. He is the worst No.1 GK the Fire have ever had. And that’s saying a lot, because I thought that no one would beat out Henry Ring for that distinction.

        Dykstra desperately needs experience, but giving him on-the-job training in MLS matches is not the the way to go. It’s too bad that the MLS reserve league no longer exists; this would be a good place for Dykstra to be playing. His inconsistent play will probably cause the Fire to miss the playoffs this year.

  9. Jose

    July 19, 2010 at 11:16 am

    One question: I have just read that it is MLS’s policy not to pay transfer fees for players. Is that true? If it is, how can you expect to get good players without paying for them? The only way for football to grow in the US is to sign brand name players at their actual peak, not fading stars. Who would you pay to watch, “Chicharito” Hernández or Nery Castillo? By the way, I’m not Mexican.

    • ruize

      July 19, 2010 at 2:20 pm

      Nery castillo of course. What kind of question is that and I am MExican

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