Castrillon adapting quickly to new culture, team

Colombian credits coaches, teammates in helping him settle in

Ventura, Calif. - When Oscar Pareja took the job as the new Head Coach of the Rapids, he already had a player in mind add to the team. Soon after, midfielder Jaime Castrillón arrived in Colorado, and started the process of adapting to a new team, league, and country.

Coming to the Rapids after many years of success with Independiente Medellín, Castrillón joins an accomplished group of midfielders, which was one of the things that appealed to him about the club.

“I’m very happy to be with this team,” said Castrillón (in Spanish) after Monday’s training session in Oxnard, Calif. “This group is very kind, an excellent group to play soccer with. There are players who have been in their national teams, who are currently in their national teams, and that’s very important.

“Now I’m adapting to the culture, to the style of play, working hard because the soccer here is totally different from my country. It’s faster, and you have to be in great physical shape to be able to give everything in service to the team. I hope to start the season doing well with this great team that we have.”

Having a fellow Colombian coaching the team has helped Castrillón settle in, and it was Pareja’s experience in Colombia and the United States that made the opportunity at the Rapids so appealing.

“I knew [Pareja] used to play in the team that I was coming from and was a very good player for both Medellín and Colombia, and spent a lot of time in MLS and knew the league well,” said Castrillón. “That was one of the things that motivated me to come here, because having a coach who knows the league, has been here for a long time and knows how the players move, that will help me adapt as fast as possible.”

Castrillón has been making an effort to learn English quickly, something that he says has been helped by the coaching staff using English with him as much as Spanish. However, the players have also been assisting in integrating him into the team and the language, especially one who went through a similar process years ago.

“Kosuke is somebody who is always happy, is always smiling and laughing, and he’s helping, exchanging words, asking how to say something in Spanish,” said Castrillón. “Likewise, when I need to know how to say something, he speaks enough Spanish and it’s great for me, because when we speak slowly he understands practically everything. Really, I’m just trying to learn, picking up little things every day.”

As Castrillón continue to get to know his new teammates and prepare for the season, the change in venue from Denver has been a welcome switch. Leaving the snow of Colorado for the sun and beach in Southern California, the midfielder sees a bit of home. But he is ready for the new challenges he’ll face this season.

“It’s totally different here,” said Castrillón of the California weather. “Some days are like Colombia, really hot, but all the same, we have to adapt. In our career, our profession, we have to play well whether it’s hot or cold out; to serve the team we have to be prepared for everything.”