GUATEMALA CITY – National pride was on the line Wednesday night and current Virginia Commonwealth University men's soccer standout Jose Carlos Castillo (pictured, far right) found himself in the midst of a monumental moment for Guatemala.
Castillo made history for his host country when he assisted on the game-winning goal that led the Under-20 Guatemalan squad to an improbable 2-1 victory against the United States in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF championship. The victory secured the country's first-ever appearance in the World Cup in any age group.
Playing in front of his home crowd of nearly 14,000 fans, the Guatemala City native launched a ball from midfield to a pair of teammates in front of the U.S. goal, who then quickly converted the game-winning score in the 68th minute.
"We are all very proud of Jose for accomplishing his goal of leading his country to the U-20 World Cup," said VCU Head Coach Dave Giffard. "As a player, anytime you can represent your country, it is special, but to be able to qualify for Guatemala's first World Cup in any age group and to do it at home in front of thousands of home fans was a very special moment for Jose and his teammates and really all of Guatemala."
It had been 47 years since Guatemala last defeated the United States in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship. The Americans are now 7-1-1 in the series since 1964.
Castillo is one of nearly a dozen Rams with international playing experience spanning seven countries and four continents. The CONCACAF U-20 Championship Tournament is the qualifying event for North American, Central American and Caribbean nations for the U-20 World Cup this summer.
Guatemala advances to face Costa Rica in the semifinals Friday night.