Salgado riddle comes to an end

November 17, 2014 at 8:23 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2014 | 1 Comment
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The story of Omar Salgado’s time with the Vancouver Whitecaps is shrouded in mystery and has me scratching my head. What promised to be a great beginning to a great career fizzled out in a way that was unsatisfactory to everyone involved.

Salgado was the first draft pick the Vancouver Whitecaps made upon entering Major League Soccer. He was young at the time, just 17 years of age, and ineligible to actually play professional football. His physical attributes were very promising: he was very tall and lean, looking for all the world like a young Ruud Van Nistelroy.

In his first interviews Salgado seemed shy and awkward, unable to suppress his teenaged giggles. During their first MLS season the Whitecaps mounted a legal challenge to declare him eligible to play, which they eventually won. Salgado scored his first MLS goal against Columbus in Columbus that year. It was a fine header which showed so much promise of future goals. It turned out to be his last goal for the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Salgado’s efforts in Vancouver were demolished by some terrible foot injuries, the first of which occurred when he went away to play with the US Men’s under 23 side. His last good game for the Whitecaps came in a home match against the Seattle Sounders in 2012. He tore up the Sounders defence although he failed to score. He was injured in that match and that is all we would see of him until the end of the season when he came back unfit and unimpressive in a few late season matches.

Another injury to his foot in 2013 killed that season off and he missed almost the entire season. Salgado attended training camp for the 2014 season and looked to be fit and ready to go. During one pre-season match, however, he started but was subbed off and stormed off the pitch, refusing to shake new coach Carl Robinson’s hand as he left the pitch. It was a direct affront to a new coach who needed to establish he was in charge.

Salgado was immediately on the outs with Robinson. It was a side of Salgado we fans did not know existed. He repeated the feat early in the 2014 season during MLS play, coming off the pitch and refusing to shake the hands of any of the coaching staff. Frankly, it was incredible to see him take the same mistake twice. By this time the fans had begun to love their new coach and it felt like an insult to us too. After being in the Whitecaps squad for three years and having scored only one goal it just boggled the mind and left a very bad taste in the mouth. It just looked like he was biting the hand that fed him.

This year’s squad seemed to be a very happy one, with one glaring exception. There were also tales of Salgado having training pitch bust-ups with teammates.

The Whitecaps made one last attempt to get money for Salgado by shipping him off to Tigres in Mexico for a trial, but nothing came of it. Last week the Whitecaps announced he had been released, and Salgado left a conciliatory message to Whitecaps fans on Twitter. As happened before he did the right thing after making the mistakes he made, but the point of it all is not to make the same mistake twice.

The whole Salgado experience was one of bad luck and bad judgement; the injuries were bad luck, but the outbursts against coaching staff and teammates were just bad judgement. So little came out of so much potential.

It is not clear where Salgado will end up, but I imagine he will be taken by another MLS team in one of the many player dispersal drafts the MLS conducts. Salgado, now a man rather than the boy who first came here, will have to act like a man if he wants to succeed in football. In spite of it all, I hope he does eventually unravel the riddle and succeed in the game.

Editor’s note: Some time after this post Salgado signed with Tigres of Liga MX.

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  1. There was also a bit of bad medicine in there. After his first injury the doctors used the wrong type of screw for that area of the foot. The next two breaks were a result of this screw breaking the foot. The last operating fixed this with a different screw and no more breaks even after a nasty kick in a game.


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