Omar Salgado Columbus Crew goal
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Salgado shines for Whitecaps FC in first MLS start

Making his first MLS start, Omar Salgado may have just given head coach Teitur Thordarson more to think about.

Quiet for most of the match, in the blink of an eye, Salgado showed why Vancouver’s coaching staff is so high on him, snapping a fine header into the back of the net to score his first MLS goal in a 2-1 loss at Columbus Crew.

“That [goal] means a lot, especially for him,” said Thordarson. “That’s his first MLS start and he scored a fantastic goal, but he also played very well.”

That was the second time in recent weeks that Salgado has proven his pure striking ability. In Vancouver’s reserve match against Chivas USA reserves two weeks ago, the lanky 17-year-old demonstrated great patience to finish a breakaway. That killer instinct is precisely the reason why Whitecaps FC are so high on him.

The teenage talent was in line for more playing time, with Atiba Harris out with a knee injury, and he showed that he deserved it on Saturday. With big striker Eric Hassli also out of the match, the ‘Caps knew that they were going to be in for a tough match against the Crew.

“Coach talked to us before the game and told us that we weren’t going to have much possession in the first half,” said Salgado. “He said we’re going to have to defend and not get scored on and be patient.”

That strategy looked good after 45 minutes of play, as the teams went into the break knotted at 0-0. However, things fell apart for Thordarson’s men early in the second half when a pair of mistakes led to a 2-0 lead for Columbus.

“It was frustrating since they hardly had a chance on goal the first 45 minutes.” said Thordarson. “We made two mistakes and that changes the whole thing.”

With the match looking like it could get ugly, Salgado’s ignited the visitors, and for the first time, the ‘Caps resembled the attacking team that Vancouver fans have loved watching at home. The young prospect was very active in the latter stages of the game and nearly tallied a second goal to level the match shortly after his first, but was denied by Crew goalkeeper Will Hesmer.

His energy was a welcome addition to a Whitecaps FC team that has yet to gain a point away from the friendly confines of Empire Field in MLS.

“He did a lot of good things and maybe should have scored more goals,” said Thordarson of Salgado. “I think he did extremely well.”

Hassli will most likely return to a starting role next match, as his ability to hold the ball in the attacking end has been sorely missed in his absence. However, to win you need to score goals, and Salgado has shown that he can do that. Now Thordarson has to decide whether he sticks with Hassli and Camilo up front or give his young star another start.