Santiago Castaño looked like a sure bet to make the United States team for the U-20 World Cup, but it looks like he won't even make himself available for selection. He's choosing to play for Colombia instead.
The New York Red Bulls homegrown signing has accepted a call-up to the Colombia U-20s, apparently ending a long relationship with the U.S. Castaño had played in U.S. U-14 camps and with the U.S. U-18s and U-20s. He was with the U-20 team as recently as November, but now he is swapping for a Colombia that is preparing for the South American Youth Championship in January.
It's not a total shock that Castaño has taken the chance to play for Colombia. While he was born in New York and came up through the American system, eventually joining the Red Bulls academy and team, he is the son of Colombian parents who told Colombia Sol earlier this year that his dream was to play for the Cafateros one day.
The most surprising part of his decision is the timing. Not only had he played for the U.S. all year, he appeared to be the team's No. 1 goalkeeper and was set to join the U-20s for a training camp in Honduras on Monday. But now he won't be with the Americans and is instead heading south to play for Colombia.
Castaño will still be eligible to play for the Americans so he could still end up as a U.S. player one day, but it's clear where his heart lies and as long as he's in contention with Colombia, it's tough to see him considering the U.S. And even if he did want to switch back, we don't know if the U.S. would take him back, but he is only 19 years old and things change with teenagers. He may realize he feels more of an attachment to the U.S. one day and want to join the Americans, forcing Jurgen Klinsmann or whoever the U.S. manager is to make a decision.
In the meantime, Castaño is a Colombian player. Good luck to him there.