Omar Salgado Is The Story So FarFebruary 16, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Posted in General Football, Major League Soccer, Vancouver Whitecaps In MLS | 1 Comment
The biggest news story this year with respect to the Vancouver Whitecaps is that we are back where we belong, in the highest level of football that we can be in: Major League Soccer.
After this, the biggest story so far, and the story which will continue to unfold, is the Omar Salgado story. The Vancouver Whitecaps drafted this 17 year old boy from the USA, a boy who promises to be a great footballer. The irony of all of this is that Salgado, our most notable player acquisition, is, subject to some loophole which might change things, not allowed to play for us for most of our inaugural season. Until he is 18, he cannot play professionally in any other country other than his own, as I understand the FIFA rule to be.
Salgado will play for the USA under 20 squad in the meantime. Unlike Canada, the USA has become a producer of major exportable football talent. Any lad who plays for the US under 20 squad is known to big clubs around the world.
The question for the Whitecaps is, how long can we (and the MLS) hold on to Salgado? Such world leaders in young player development as Arsenal have expressed an interest in him. Will his agent, his parents and the player himself trust in the Whitecaps to develop his talents appropriately? Will the sheer financial power of European clubs make it impossible to hold on to him? Or will such clubs be happy to allow him to play his early years in Vancouver before making a bid?
This will be the first major test of the Whitecaps coaching staff and player development infrastructure. Will they have the skill and ability to keep Salgado and his agents happy with his development as a player? Will they be able to stimulate him and keep him interested in learning the game?
In my view we can only hope that Salgado becomes another Peter Beardsley. Beardsley came to the Vancouver Whitecaps back in the early eighties from modest Carlisle United. He honed and developed his skills as a striker in Vancouver and then moved on to a brilliant career playing for Liverpool, Newcastle United and England. If anything, Salgado comes to Vancouver as a more known commodity than Beardsley did.
Salgado scored his first goal for the Whitecaps in a recent friendly and has looked sharp in training footage I have seen. He is clearly a gifted player with a perfect physique for modern football. If we can hold on to Omar Salgado, we fans of the Whitecaps will have a lot of joy to look forward to. I am convinced he is the real thing.
MLS clubs have typically used their designated player spots (players the club is allowed to pay above and beyond the tight MLS salary cap) to pay aging stars from Europe with big names. I think the Whitecaps should turn this model on its head and use one of those spots to hold on to a brilliant young player instead. I hope that young player is Omar Salgado.
Without taking this step, how can we hold him from the financial power of the big European clubs?
The Omar Salgado story promises to be among the most interesting and important stories for both the Vancouver Whitecaps and Major League Soccer over the next couple of years.