As expected, Ecuadorian forward Miler Castillo got his first taste of MLS action in a scrimmage under the hot Texas sun on Wednesday, when he kicked off his trial with the Houston Dynamo.
“I liked it and I had fun,” Castillo told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. “The teammates and the coaches welcomed me well. The only thing for me to add to that is to work hard.”
In Texas for up to two weeks, Castillo participated in the full scrimmage the morning after his arrival in Houston. The intense training gave the current striker for Mexican second-division side BUAP Lobos an idea of the difference in play that could greet him if a deal is worked out.
“The difference here is [the style] is very physical, very quick, and dynamic,” said the 23-year-old Castillo. “You’re going back and forth, and you’re moving and running all the time.”
It’s difficult to gauge a player on his first day with a new team, but the scrimmage gave Castillo a chance to show off the skills that landed him on Houston’s radar. The forward, who stands 5-foot-9, has a solid build and battled center backs Jermaine Taylor and Bobby Boswell throughout the session. While strength is important to a striker’s success in MLS, Castillo's speed is what intrigues Kinnear.
“We’re looking to add a forward to get behind the defense, and his resumé fit that, so we wanted to bring him in and see what he’s like,” Kinnear said. “Today we just kind of played, because we wanted him to get to know us and we wanted to get to know him.”
Neither Castillo nor Kinnear were sure how long the forward will be in Houston. The hope is that he is able to take part in a reserve game against the Monterrey U-20s on July 10. With trialists restricted from taking part in MLS regular-season games, the reserve match would provide a barometer for Kinnear and his staff to measure how Castillo could fit into the Dynamo scheme.
“Training is training, but games are the best measure of a player to see if they can fit in,” Kinnear said. “That’s why preseason was good on that front, because you play in a lot of games.”
For now, Castillo is just trying to show the combination of speed and strength that has brought him this far in his career. Whether those skills can bring him to Houston for the next spot on his soccer journey will be answered another day.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.