Nelson Castro, a talented 14-year-old defender from Houston, TX, has won the nationally-televised player search Sueño MLS 2010 - built by The Home Depot.
The high school freshman of Salvadorian descent becomes the program's youngest winner ever. In addition to being named the Sueño MLS 2010 Champion, Castro will receive an invitation to join one of the Dynamo Academy youth teams.
Castro was one of 15 national finalists who emerged from the 2,000 aspiring players that participated in regional tryouts in Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles (LA Galaxy). The "Final 15" gathered on May 5 in Los Angeles for four days of intense pro-style training sessions, scrimmages against the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA Under-16 teams and various media activities - all under the leadership of two-time MLS head coach and current MLS Technical Director, Alfonso Mondelo.
Assisting Mondelo as "celebrity scouts" were Peruvian World Cup legend Teofilo "Nene" Cubillas and U.S. Men's National Team all-time great and World Cup veteran Marcelo Balboa.
"Nelson showed a lot of consistency over the four days in Los Angeles," said Mondelo. "For his age, he has a great sense of positioning and maturity. He organized the defense during games and was very vocal. We loved his tenacity and the way he defends. He has great anticipation and reads the game well."
Castro was officially presented as the winner today, Sunday, May 9, live (EST) on "República Deportiva" (Sports Republic), the popular weekly Spanish-language sports show on Univision that chronicles the tryouts in a "reality show within a show" format.
"I'm really happy that I won out of so many players," said Castro. "I never thought I'd even get to the final two." Of his performance during the week, he said, "I could have done better, but I felt good. I gave it all yesterday on the field, so I think that maybe helped me out."
Since its inception in 2007, Sueño MLS has given thousands of talented young dreamers a chance to showcase their skills and impress youth development scouts. The original winner, forward Jorge Flores of Anaheim, Cal., is now entering his fourth year with MLS' Chivas USA. The Mexican-American player recently represented the United States Under-20 National Team at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt. The 2008 FC Dallas Sueño MLS winner, Gabriel Funes, played with the FC Dallas Juniors U-18 team before moving on to Argentina's legendary side River Plate, where he regularly appears with the first team.