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Saturday, July 17, 2010
Fire add Mexican national Castillo

By Charlie Corr
ESPNChicago.com

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire announced Saturday the addition of 26-year-old Nery Castillo, a native of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, to the organization as a designated player. The team made the announcement following its 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution in SuperLiga play.

"This has been a work in process for over two years, I would say. And I'm glad that this day is finally here," Fire technical director Frank Klopas said. "I had an opportunity to watch him because he played for one of the top teams in Greece for many years and had tremendous success as a young player. And obviously with the success he's has with the [Mexican] national team."

The drama of the announcement lost a little of its excitement because former Fire midfielder Cuauhtemoc Blanco's whereabouts already were known, as he recently joined second-division Irapuato. Castillo was not on hand when Klopas and head coach Carlos de los Cobos fielded questions about the addition of Castillo.

"I'm very happy to be joining the Fire, which is a club that I feel embodies the same values that I have as a player," Castillo said in a statement. "When I put on a Fire jersey for the first time, my commitment to the fans and to my club will be to score goals, contribute on the pitch and win."

De los Cobos said Castillo will have an attacking role up front for the Fire.

Castillo has played for the Mexican national team, making his debut on June 2, 2007. But he was left off of the team roster for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Castillo made his professional debut at age 16 with Greek club Olympiakos FC in 2000. Castillo tallied 30 goals and played in 105 games for Olympiakos from 2000 to 2007, winning four Greek Super League Championships and two Greek Cups.

"He's a tremendous player, has the ability to break opposing defenses down with the ball," Klopas said. "He's a very fast player who can create opportunities for himself and for his teammates. Were very excited as an organization."

Castillo joins a Fire squad that currently has a 4-5-5 record in MLS and has yet to post a non-MLS victory this year. Clearly one player cannot be thought upon as the lone answer, but Castillo's experience is expected to be a beneficial ingredient.

"You definitely cannot depend on him to come and change it around," veteran Fire defender C.J. Brown said. "The signing, I think, is to help the team get better. And I think bringing him in will do that, and it will also spark the rest of the players to fight harder and keep their spots. I think it's a good thing. We need some fresh feet out there."

It is difficult to say how much more help the organization is looking to bring in, but Klopas is keeping an open mind if he fits the right mold.

"We're committed to bringing a second, possibly a third [designated player]," Klopas said. "Anyone who can help us win a championship right away. We don't know what's going to happen next year."

Charlie Corr covers the Chicago Fire for ESPNChicago.com.