BALTIMORE, MD – After weeks of speculation that placed Missouri Athletic Club (MAC) Hermann Trophy winner Darlington Nagbe or Perry Kitchen as the first pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Vancouver Whitecaps FC's choice to go with Omar Salgado was quite a surprise, even to Salgado himself.
“They left me speechless,” admitted the 17-year-old Generation adidas signing. “I just found out right now. I was surprised.”
Going first was a pleasant shock for the 6-foot-4 forward from El Paso, Texas, but he had an inkling that he’d end up in Vancouver in one way or another.
“I had an idea [Vancouver would pick me],” he said. "I mean, I trained with them. They had told me they had an interest in me…I just didn’t think I’d be No. 1. I thought I’d go No. 8 [Vancouver’s second-overall pick in the draft].”
For Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi, the decision to go with the USA U-20 forward was a no-brainer, especially after getting a look at the youngster during the summer.
“We were actually looking to sign him at the time,” Lenarduzzi said. “What we saw was huge potential.”
“He’s got a great pedigree,” said Lenarduzzi. “He was our first pick, quite frankly, way back.”
Salgado, who was part of Mexican club Chivas de Guadalajara’s famed academy, decided to return to the United States in search of a first-team opportunity. The move, he said, has paid off.
“Yeah, it was a great decision [to decide to return],” he said.
Salgado’s MLS debut, however, may have to wait. The forward had played in Mexico and can play in the United States, but a FIFA rule about transferring registrations would not allow him to play in Canada until he turns 18 on September 10. Whitecaps FC, though, are currently working with the league to obtain an exemption for Salgado to play before then.
Under FIFA rules, a player under the age of 18 who is registered in one country can transfer his registration to a different country only if his family moves to that country for non-sporting reasons. Salgado and his family recently relocated to the United States.
“I wanna play. I wanna play as much as I can, as many games as I can,” said Salgado. “The exemption is going to be a problem, but if I get it then – I just wanna play. I think I can play a few games – I hope I start most of the games.
“I’ve been waiting six months for this, so I’m very happy.”