Commerce City, Colo. - When Jaime Castrillon arrived in Colorado in February, he knew he was joining a team that included two natural goal-scorers in Conor Casey and Omar Cummings, and a midfielder in Jeff Laretowicz who lead the club in goals the previous year.
Needless to say, Castrillon did not envisision that he would be the winner of the team's Golden Boot award.
"Honestly, I didn't expect it," Castrillon said of leading the team with eight goals. "I've always played with the mentality of helping my teams score goals, but I didn't think I'd be the one to score the most for this team during the season. I think it's important as an offensive midfielder to be in position to create goals, but I'm hoping that next year our forwards can score even more goals."
In addition to winning the Golden Boot, Castrillon finished second behind Matt Pickens in voting for the team's Most Valuable Player honor, an award voted on by the players themselves. Castrillon and Pickens received the same number of first place votes, but Pickens claimed the trophy by receiving nine combined 2nd and 3rd place votes to Castrillon's eight.
"It's important to have the confidence of your teammates," Castrillon said. "I arrived with the hope of being able to contribute to the team and to be one of the better players, and it's nice to know that I had that support from my teammates. But I want to work even harder next season to achieve our team goals, because I really believe we're a team that deserved much more."
Of the Colombian's eight goals, three were game-winners and three others put the Rapids up early, only to see the team fail to hold on to the lead. Two of his four assists were also the game-winning assists.
And while his achievements in his first year in Major League Soccer are personally gratifying, Castrillon coud not hold back his disappointment at the team's lack of positive results.
"We accumulated points early on, but then halfway though the year we went through a stretch of about 10 games without seeing a win," he acknowledged. "That led to us falling in the standings and we couldn't get out of it.
"Those are things we can correct, and we showed in the last few weeks that we have a team that can give more. With a year of getting to know each other, we finished knowing we should have been in the playoffs."
Now the focus turns on the offseason and the hope of better things to come for the team and its fans.
"We need to work hard," he said. "These supporters deserved more, because they were with us throughout this entire season."