BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire officially introduced Mexican forward and designated player Nery Castillo at a press conference Thursday, and head coach Carlos de los Cobos made a proper point.
"Nery is not here to be a savior of the team. He's here to add to the team," De los Cobos said through a translator. "He's here to take part in the team. He will be an important part, and I'm sure that he is 100 percent committed to helping the team. One player cannot change the face or change the dynamic of the team, so we've got to continue working."
The Fire recently signed Castillo as the organization's second designated player, following in the footsteps of fellow Mexican midfielder Cuauhtemoc Blanco who played for Chicago from 2007-2009. Castillo does not have Blanco's iconic status in his homeland and abroad, but the 26-year-old is obviously expected to be a game-changing figure for Chicago as the team tries to improve its 4-5-5 record heading into the second half of the MLS season.
As Fire technical director Frank Klopas has mentioned on many occasions, the process to get Castillo took more than two years, with the first meeting taking place while Castillo was playing for Manchester City. When the Fire went back to him again, Castillo decided he would be on board.
"When the opportunity rose again and they showed interest in me, I didn't think twice about it," Castillo said. "And I knew that I was coming to a place where the coach played with my father, which was important for me, that I could be able to receive a lot of support from that standpoint."
Thursday marked Castillo's training debut with the Fire. He is trying to get acclimated to the team and adjust to the time and a new setting. Castillo is quickly trying to get up to speed to make himself available as soon as possible for the Fire.
The timing of his debut remains to be seen as the Fire prepare for Sunday's road match against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
"It will be the coach's decision," Castillo said. "He'll be evaluating my training and he's the person that will make that decision."
Early on, Castillo will be mentioned in the same breath as Blanco for the sheer facts that they have worn the designated player tag and have represented Mexico at an international level. But Castillo is supposed to be in the prime of his playing career. Blanco's playing time -- now with Mexican second-division Irapuato -- is numbered.
"I know he was a very important player at this club, a very important player in Mexico and a very important player with the Mexican National Team," Castillo said of Blanco. "And I hope to do as much as he did, if not more -- win championships and bring titles here to Chicago."
"I feel strongly that the characteristics of this player will be a good complement to our team," De los Cobos said. "It falls in line with the characteristics that I try to instill. It will be very good for the club."