Omar Salgado made his MLS debut in his home state of Texas on Sunday, coming on in the 84th minute for Vancouver Whitecaps FC in a 3-1 defeat to Houston Dynamo.
Though the appearance of the first overall pick of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft got the most attention, two other Whitecaps players – Jeb Brovsky and Mouloud Akloul – also made their league debuts. In total, 15 Whitecaps FC players have gotten their first taste of MLS action so far this season.
With half the roster playing in MLS for the first time, MLSsoccer.com talked to five league veterans to reminisce about their own introductions to life in North America’s top tier.
Atiba Harris, (April 2, 2006, with Real Salt Lake vs. Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center)
“I was a little bit nervous, but at the same time it was exciting, and I fell in love with The Home Depot Center. We lost the game. I had an average game, but I didn’t play too badly.”
Shea Salinas, (April 3, 2008, with San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy at The Home Depot Center)
“It was their home opener and it was one of David Beckham’s first games. It was on ESPN2 in front of a packed house and I started at forward. I remember being in the tunnel and seeing fireworks going off. I had Landon Donovan next to me and David Beckham just in front of him. I’d never seen these two guys in person, so I was kind of starstruck with my head turned and my mouth open. One of my teammates hit me on the back of the head and said, 'Focus, kid,' so I had to shake it off and walk on the field. It was super nerve-racking. We lost 2-0 and I touched the ball about four times the whole game.”
Greg Janicki, (October 12, 2008, with D.C. United vs. Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium)
“My first game that I started was down in Houston, and Dwayne De Rosario was still there. It was really really hot and I didn’t really have time to think about how nervous I was, which can be good because you just go out and play. It’s an exciting feeling, like you’ve kind of made it. We played all right; it was a 0-0 draw. I remember I had an interview at halftime and I was a little nervous for that, but I did all right for my first interview. I cut my head open that game too, as I famously do.
Jay Nolly, (May 14, 2005 with Real Salt Lake vs. Los Angeles Galaxy at Rice-Eccles Stadium)
“It was against the Galaxy and they were flying. The [starting] goalkeeper for our team had got injured the game before, so I knew that I was playing the next game. It was early in the season. There was a big crowd, it was a home game. I played well and we won 2-1.”
Jonathan Leathers, (March 29, 2008, with Kansas City Wizards vs. D.C. United at CommunityAmerica Ballpark)
“I didn’t know I was going to start until the day before. One of the players got injured, so I got called up and I was kind of shocked. It was our home opener and we won 2-0. It was an experience; the pace was a lot faster. Coming from college, it was definitely a transition. Those first few games you don’t really know what’s going on and you have to get acclimated to it, but once I got a few games under my belt, it was all right.”