After more than a month of trials, travels, and training, 14-year-old defender Nelson Castro was on Sunday named the winner of Sueño MLS 2010 - built by The Home Depot.
The native of Houston, Texas, is the youngest winner in the nationally televised player-search competition's four-year history. He will now join one of the Houston Dynamo's youth academy teams.
"Nelson showed a lot of consistency over the four days in Los Angeles,” said Alfonso Mondelo, MLS' technical director who ran the training sessions for the 15 finalists this week. “For his age, he has a great sense of positioning and maturity. He organized the defense during games and was very vocal. We loved his tenacity and the way he defends. He has great anticipation and reads the game well.”
A fan of Oguchi Onyewu, Castro came into the competition with a reputation for his smart play, something that showed in the Sueño team's two scrimmages, against the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA U16 youth academy teams.
“I’m really happy that I won out of so many players,” said Castro, a freshman at Eastwood Academy. “I never thought I’d even get to the final two.” Of his performance during the week, he said, “I could have done better, but I felt good. I gave it all yesterday on the field, so I think that maybe helped me out.”
Castro, who is of Salvadoran descent, learned the news of his winning during a live broadcast of República Deportiva, the weekly Spanish-language sports show on Univision. He follows in the footsteps of previous Sueño winner Jorge Flores (Chivas USA) and Sueño Dallas winner Gabriel Funes (River Plate).