Santiago Castaño Aiming To Grab Opportunity With Both Hands

The young goalkeeper is looking to make his mark with the club this season
Mar 13, 2019

Santiago Castaño has a second chance to make his mark in U.S. professional soccer, so he has wrapped his arms around his opportunity with the New York Cosmos.

The Queens, N.Y. born goalkeeper is hoping to impress the Cosmos' brass to become the regular 'keeper in the National Premier Soccer League and the NPSL Founders Cup this year.

"I always say that second chances don't come too often, so I prepared myself well for the second chance that God and life has given me," Castaño said. 

When he signed with the New York Red Bulls when he was 16-years-old, Castaño felt he didn't make the best of the situation. He played with New York Red Bull II in 2014 and with the U.S. Under-20 national team as well.

"I took it for granted," he said. "I had a time where I took the opportunity they gave with the national team and Red Bulls. I started asking for things that I didn't deserve at the moment and things went the other way."

He played in the United Soccer League back then.

"I couldn't say that season was my best season," Castaño said. "I was worrying about other things that weren't going to get me to where I needed to be in soccer. At that time, when I wasn't focused at 100 percent, it took me out of soccer. So, the second chance in soccer I take it with more maturity, with a lot more responsibility, and enjoying it every second."

Since then, Castaño played for Socrates Valencia F.C (Colombia second division) in 2016-17 and with TSF FC during the 2018 NPSL season.

Castaño looked in midseason form as the Cosmos started preparing for the National Premier Soccer League and the NPSL Founders Cup at the Sports Hub in Syosset, N.Y., and have moved into the second week of training. During practices so far, Castaño has frustrated many a teammate.

It's been only a few days, but Cosmos head coach Carlos Mendes has liked what he has seen.

"He's comfortable on the ball," he said. "He's going to fit our style. He looks fit. Training at a high level. He's sharp. He's in rhythm, and he's ready to go. He's going to have to push. This is a big opportunity for him. It's good to have him and we're excited to see what he can do.

"He's trained at a high level. His youth game is impressive. This is an opportunity. He's trying to make a stamp on his professional career."

So, Castaño has been savoring every moment.

He also has been realistic. While he was the first goalkeeper signed for the club this year, that doesn't necessarily mean Castaño will be the No. '1 keeper. He knew that.

His task to become the man to guard the goal?

"Work and just be a team player," he said. "It's more important than anything else. In the locker room, there's a phrase that says, 'No one's more important than all of us together.' That's 100 percent true. I have to be a leader, on and off the field. I'm here to prevent goals. That's my main objective here. Hopefully, I can do it at the highest level and help the team achieve all of its goals this season. We're competing in three different tournaments and hopefully we can win all three of them."

Only 23, Castñno knew about the Cosmos before he learned about Major League Soccer.

"So that's how big it is for me," he said, before naming the likes of Pele and Franz Beckenbauer. A lot of big names. Marcos Senna, Raul. A lot of teammates who played with me on Red Bull played on the Cosmos, so it’s an honor to be here.

"It's an honor, a privilege to be part of the Cosmos. It's not just any team. It's a team that has a lot of history behind them. Once you put that shirt on its a big responsibility. You have to keep the Cosmos where it is, keep the name up there. And being home, it's even better. I have my family around, everything's close. Everything's familiar to me, so it's even better."

Many players get their first taste of being a goalkeeper when the regular fails to show up for a game or is injured. Castaño has been guarding the goal since he started playing at the age of five.

"I've always been a goalkeeper," he said. "The reason why I put myself in that, I can remember as if it was yesterday. That day it was raining, and I loved getting dirty. I went in goal and i just started diving and throwing myself [around]. "It happened to be my passion-plus position in soccer."

And besides, his mother always washed his dirty uniform in time for the next game. 

"I was always the biggest guy on my team," Castaño added. "At the youth level, I played up a few years and I was still the biggest boy of the team. So that's why I also went over to the goal."

Needless to say, while Castaño might not have made the most of his opportunity with the Red Bulls, he still relished his experience.

"It was a fantastic year," he said. "Now that I'm mature, I can go back in time. I'm very thankful for the opportunity they gave me, because if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't be able to talk about it. I learned a lot from my teammates, the coaching staff, and organization. So, it was a fantastic year for me, even though I didn't put the right attitude into it. I should have faced it a different way. Thanks to that, now I know every time I put on my gloves, tie my cleats, it's 1000 percent, no doubt."

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