Electric City Shock standout Erik Casterline is hoping to be the latest NPSL player to find their way to a professional career in Europe. He would be joining plenty of fellow NPSL alumni that have taken their game across the pond.
Could he be the next Sachem Wilson, the first NPSL player to ever play in the Europa League and the first American to play in the Slovenian top flight? Could he be the next Jordan Hulme, the former New Orleans Jester who is tearing up the National League North in England? Or is he following in the footsteps of former NPSL Player of the Year Carlos McCrary, a player that has made a name for himself in the German leagues?
No, he’s blazing a path of his own in Sweden. In the coming weeks he will be on trial with three clubs there: Nordvamland, Amal, and Eskilsuna. He’s potentially weeks away from seeing his dream of turning pro come true.
“My expectations for the trials are to make a team and get a contract. I don't think you can go into trials with any other attitude or expectations for yourself. The teams I will be on trial with will be of good quality so to earn a contract I will have to show them that I can help their team win. It will all come down to helping them win games.”
It’s obviously an exciting time for the High Point, North Carolina native.
“It feels amazing to have this opportunity. It finally seems like all of the hard work that I've done is paying off.”
Casterline has gotten the job done at every step of his career so this new opportunity is really no surprise. He started 15 games for Frostburg State University in 2016, leading the Bobcat defense to a 1.32 GAA and five shutouts. He would see Frostburg advance to the Capital Athletic Club (CAC) Tournament semifinals. He started all 18 games for FSU in 2015, tallying two goals and five assists as he finished third on the team in points.
Frostburg State head coach Keith Byrnes enjoyed having Casterline as part of his program.
“Eric is your typical outside back in today’s game. He loves to get forward, has the pace to get up and down, and has a tireless work rate. He is a good defender, but is most dangerous playing in advanced positions when pressing and can use his pace and technical ability to join the attack. I think Eric has a great mindset for what he wants to accomplish and there is still room for him to develop as a player and find success at the professional level.”
Previously he attended UNC-Asheville and Coker College.
In the NPSL Casterline was a dominant force, starting 12 games for the Shock and earning the reputation as one of the top players in the Northeast Region. Electric City GM James Bell was quite impressed.
"Erik is an exceptional player. His knowledge and awareness of the game is rare to see in a young player."
The NPSL Showcase Committee saw Casterline’s potential and invited him to the 2017 Showcase in Carson, California. He would shine once again, rising to the top of an elite competition. He really enjoyed his time there.
“Playing in the Showcase was a great experience. I always enjoy testing myself against the best competition and the players at the Showcase were definitely top level players.”
Casterline has done a lot of great things, but he is quick to give credit to his coaches and teammates at Electric City.
“Most definitely, James Bell, Andy Laughnane, and Dany O'Rourke played an integral part in my development over the summer. The program that they have in Scranton, PA is top-notch. They take care of the players, run great training sessions, and the three are extremely knowledgeable about the game. Their combined experience is unmatched in the entire area.”
He felt quite fortunate to be given the opportunity to play in the NPSL, the largest national soccer league in the U.S.
“I would definitely say that if any player has the opportunity to play in this league, they should take advantage of it. The structure is great, the competition is awesome. It just seems like everyone knows what they are doing and what the ultimate goal is, which is to get players to the next level.”
Versatility is the name of the game for Casterline; no wonder he has turned so many heads in the pro game.
“I would describe myself as a very calculated player. I like to play two or three touch most of the time and attack when I can. I always try to be stout defensively. My best positions are right or left outside back; I can also play winger. I'm pretty adaptable to all styles because I've had to play many different styles and systems in college and in Europe. I think my favorite would have to be playing with a lot of attacking freedom.”
Remember the name Erik Casterline as he looks to be the next trailblazer coming out of the NPSL. He certainly has the tools needed for the professional game and now he has the opportunity.
Photo Credit: Mike Bazadona Sr. and Frostburg State University Athletics