For East Bay FC Stompers goalkeeper Luis “Manotas” Castro, he’s looking to add on to what has already been a storied career.
“I’m very happy to be with the Stompers,” Castro said. “It’s a very competitive league and I’m glad to be here.”
To begin his soccer career, Castro spent eight years with C.D. FAS in El Salvador. In his time with the club they won the Apertura and Clausura of the tournament three times respectively. Additionally the club made a strong run in what was then called the CONCACAF Champions Cup, now the CONCACAF Champions League, in 2004, with the club reaching the quarterfinals of the competition.
Additionally, in 2004, Castro earned the honor of “arquero menos vencido” or the “least defeated goalkeeper” after his side won both the Apertura and Clausura. In 2009 Castro moved to the United States. In 2013 he joined NPSL side CD Aguiluchos USA, where he spent two seasons.
Despite moving on to new clubs, Castro will never forget FAS and recently went back to play in a commemorative match with his former teammates.
“That was a great time in my life,” Castro said. “We were dominant for like seven years, and I really enjoyed my time there. It was great to come back to El Salvador and see all of my old teammates, some of them I had not seen in years.”
Not only was Castro a legend with FAS, he was also a regular with the El Salvador National Team. Castro made two appearances with the full national team, while he was the second-choice keeper for years. In his debut for the senior team, Castro led La Selecta to a 3-0 victory over Nicaragua. Castro’s highlight with the national team, however, came in the 2002 Central American Games. Not only did Castro help lead El Salvador to the gold medal match, the keeper came up huge in penalties, stopping the first attempt from Mexico as he dived to the right. Castro would guess right on Mexico’s final penalty kick, though the attempt bounced harmlessly off the crossbar, giving El Salvador the win and a bright spot for Castro’s career.
“Oh, that was the best,” Castro said. “We know that Mexico is a little above us in terms of football, so we are always trying to beat them, so that along with our crowd in the stadium that was just an awesome experience.”
Castro’s heroics in the Central American Games was not close to the only time he had to step up in penalty kicks, as he helped C.D. FAS win multiple championships in penalty kicks, including the Apertura title in 2004 where he stopped two penalties before being carried off the pitch by his teammates following the victory.
Castro prides himself on his penalties, saying, “I’m good at stopping penalties. I have some tricks.”
But like any good magician, Castro didn’t reveal his secrets.
East Bay FC Stompers know they have a good talent in Castro, and they also know his experience can help the rest of the squad.
“Adding a veteran like Castro is a huge boost to our defense they have a lot more trust when he is in the net behind them,” East Bay FC Stompers General Manager Billy Forte said. “What he can give to our younger goalkeepers in sharing his experience is invaluable.”
EBFC Stompers Head Coach Martin Sierra agreed.
“Luis brings with him class and athleticism at the goalkeeper position that is only seen at the highest levels of futbol.”
For Castro, he hopes to have a good season and use his experience to help the rest of the team and improve his leadership skills.
“For me I just want to have a good season and not allow a lot of goals,” Castro concluded. “But I also want to use my experience and work on helping to organize the team.”
With Castro’s vast experience as a stopper, look for East Bay FC Stompers to put up a low number in the goals against column this NPSL season. That alone should keep the Stompers in the running for a Golden Gate Conference title and a chance at the national playoffs.