FRISCO, Texas---Breakout player is a label that has seemingly been affixed to Fabian Castillo ever since he arrived in MLS during the 2011 season. And the young FC Dallas midfielder and occasional striker has shown flashes of sheer brilliance with his blinding pace and playmaking ability, but as FCD supporters know all too well, Castillo’s touch and finishing more often than not desert him when he needs it most, in the final third.
So far this year, Castillo, who is still just 21, has three goals and one assist in 14 games. With Blas Perez, who has led Dallas in goals each of the past two seasons currently on a stretch of seven straight matches, his longest since coming to MLS before the 2012 campaign, without a goal, this enigmatic young player was expected to step up and carry the load.
However, Castillo has just one goal and one assist over the past 11 games, cooling off considerably after scoring twice in FCD’s first three games of the season.
But first-year Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja isn’t worried. Instead, the ever- optimistic gaffer sees some big positives in Castillo and in what he has brought to the team thus far in 2014.
“He has one more goal than last year and we still have 20 games to go. That’s not bad,” Pareja said after training on Tuesday. “He creates that many chances and that many opportunities. But the lack of good decisions in the last third is his worst enemy, but he knows that.”
Hearing that Castillo has complete awareness of the shortcomings in his game, namely in the final part of the attacking third, is definitely great news for Dallas backers to hear.
Some feel that Pareja taking the reigns as coach of FCD should help Castillo finally break out, especially since Pareja played an integral role in the young Colombian landing with FCD three years ago.
But as Pareja, a coach known for giving young players a chance to play, knows all too well, the big thing for youngsters like Castillo is finding some level of consistency, something which unfortunately continues to elude him.
“We are working with him and we’re trying to help him. We see things and we see some improvement. Sometimes we see there is still a long way to go, but he has the willingness to work. We have the patience. He’s young and we can hope nothing but the best on a player that has that ability to get in behind (defenses),” Pareja said.
Of course, Pareja also knows that if the proverbial light bulb ever does come on and Castillo’s decision making and finishing in the final third can one day catch up to his already rather fleet feet, his time with FCD will be short because other clubs from around the world will desire his services.
But until that happens, Pareja and his staff are going to do all they can to ensure Castillo continues to further tap into and hopefully eventually deliver on his immense potential.
“When he starts scoring and making decisions, the bad news is we’re going to lose him because I think any team in the world will like to have a player that can have that many chances,” Pareja said.
And while Castillo hasn’t been scoring much or chipping in many assists, the affable Dallas manager is more than pleased with how many scoring chances Castillo has created for FCD, who is currently winless in May (0-4-2) and on a seven-game winless streak.
“In the last five games, he created 30 (chances). We made a chart, 30 opportunities, some clearer than the other. In the last 30 yards, the good news is it has been created. The bad news is that we have no results. That means that we have a lot of work to do and he knows it,” Pareja said. “I hope always for the best and I know it will come, but he’s creating. Not many teams in the league are creating that many options on the flank.”
But don’t take Pareja’s rosy outlook on Castillo to mean that the third-year MLS head coach doesn’t criticize his young talent for his lack of precision in the final third because he does.
“Believe me, I am the first one to question his final decision in the last third, but it (the chance) has been created. Not a good finish, but (it) has been created,” Pareja said. “That’s what we need to work on. He has to be (better with) the final production. The production has to be down there and he knows.”