Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced today that 26-year-old Mexican forward Nery Castillo will join the team as a Designated Player. Castillo will become available for selection for the Fire upon the receipt of his P1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC). Castillo’s first match with the Men in Red is expected to be on the road against the LA Galaxy on Sunday, August 1. Castillo will be on loan to the Fire from Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine), with the Fire holding an option to complete a permanent transfer. Per Major League Soccer and club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The Fire revealed its decision to add Castillo tonight in front of fans at Toyota Park after the club’s SuperLiga match against the New England Revolution. Castillo will arrive in Chicago next week and conduct a press conference, the time and location of which will be finalized soon.
“Nery is a young, competitive player who will be a dynamic force on the pitch and we are very excited that he has decided to make the Chicago Fire his new home,” said Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas. “He understands the tradition, honor and passion that comes with wearing the Fire badge and is committed to leading our team towards another championship.”
A native from San Luis Potosí, Mexico, Castillo has represented the Mexican men’s National Team 21 times since 2007, scoring a total of six goals. Known for his nifty left foot and creative talent, Castillo made his international debut with El Tri on June 2, 2007 against Iran, and he opened his international account when he scored the winning goal against Cuba during the team’s opening match for the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup on June 8, 2007. His performance led the team to the tournament’s final, where Mexico fell to the United States, 2-1.
“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. “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.”
Castillo began his professional career in 2000 at age 16 with the most successful Greek club, Olympiakos FC, where he was a regular starter and one of the most exciting players in the league. Castillo made 105 appearances and scored 30 goals with the Greek side from 2000 to 2007, leading the team to four Greek Super League Championships (02/03, 04/05, 05/06 and 06/07) and two Greek Cups (2005 and 2006). In 2007, Castillo was sold to Ukrainian side FC Shakhtar Donetsk.
During his time with Shakhtar Donetsk from 2007 to 2009, Castillo appeared in 12 matches and scored one goal in one season where he helped the club to win the 2009 UEFA Cup. While with Shakhtar Donetsk, Castillo had brief loan spells with English Premier League club Manchester City and Ukrainian club FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.
With the capability to play in different positions on the field, Castillo was also part of the Mexican national team in the 2007 Copa América, taking an important role in the team as he scored four goals in six appearances for a meritorious third place in the tournament. Recently, Castillo earned seven caps and scored one goal for Mexico in the CONCACAF’s qualifying stage (The Hexagonal) for the 2010 World Cup Qualifiers.