Nikolas Besagno, Marvell Wynne, Freddy Adu, Maurice Edu, Chance Myers, Steve Zakuani and Danny Mwanga.
Those are the names of the number one overall MLS SuperDraft picks from 2004 to 2010.
Each of them has had varying degrees of success. Besagno is no longer playing professional soccer, Wynne has won an MLS Cup, Adu has been to Europe and back and gone again, Edu is still in Europe and a member of the United States national team, Myers is a consistent starter with Sporting Kansas City, Zakuani has endeared himself to fans in Seattle, and Mwanga showed early promise in Philadelphia and now looks to make his mark in Portland.
Joining that list in 2011 was then 17-year-old Omar Salgado, selected with the top pick by Vancouver Whitecaps FC – who were about to begin their inaugural season in MLS.
His own story is still very much being written, but he’s been excited to start his career here in Vancouver.
“It was a great feeling to be called up as the number one draft pick,” remembers Salgado, who has American, Mexican, and Spanish citizenship. “You’ll always go down in the history of the MLS SuperDraft. It was an honour to be selected by Vancouver and I was very happy about it.”
With great talent comes great expectations, but Salgado was prepared, and the club always stressed that they would be patient with their young talent.
“It always comes with pressure when you’re drafted high, the pressure of succeeding,” says Salgado. “It’s just something that you have to deal with.”
As a young player, it was tough to find playing time in the early stages of his rookie season. Naturally, criticism would come from some, but the ever-smiling talent always felt support from fans.
With that support behind him he kept pushing to get himself on the field, and that moment came on April 10, 2011 against Houston Dynamo – not far from his hometown of El Paso, Texas, where he was born to mother Annalu and father Eduardo.
Later that month Salgado made his first start away to Columbus Crew, and he scored his first goal too – a lovely header finish.
2012 looked to be a big year for the tall attacking player, as a switch to left wing left many onlookers impressed. In fact, Salgado was named among the top 24 players under the age of 24 by MLSsoccer.com.
Unfortunately that momentum was halted by a foot injury while away on international duty with the United States U-20 national team, leaving Salgado sidelined for four months in the middle of the season.
All the while, however, the now 19-year-old was encouraged by fans.
“Vancouver has always had my back and they’ve always supported me,” states Salgado with his signature smile. “They’ve always been behind me, so I really feel the love in this city. Even right now as I make my way back to the field, I always receive nice messages on Facebook and Twitter.”
So after two up-and-down seasons to start his professional career, Salgado is more than a little eager to return to action.
“It’s what you play for. You’re representing a whole city.”
And when he does, he wants to thank everyone for their support the only way he knows how.
“When I score that first goal at BC Place, it’s going to be dedicated to the fans.”