VANCOUVER, BC – After two tough years of injuries, Vancouver Whitecaps FC striker Omar Salgado is back fit and keen to make up for that lost time.
Salgado was recalled from a brief loan spell with USL PRO affiliate Charleston Battery in May and has found himself on the fringes of first-team action since.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound winger/striker has made seven appearances this season, with one start amongst his 137 minutes. Salgado was given a lift last week when he took part in a five-day training camp with the US U-23 national team, scoring in a 5-1 win over the Bahamas.
“It just builds my confidence really,” Salgado told reporters when asked about scoring on his call up. “I feel like I'd been lacking it at the beginning of the season and that's just building it up for the last stretch of the season.”
Armed with that new confidence, Salgado is hoping that his form will be rewarded with more first-team minutes in Carl Robinson's youth-heavy side. The striker has impressed in recent games when coming on as a sub and won a penalty late on in Sunday's win over Sporting KC, and Robinson feels Salgado is "very, very close" to regularly cracking the starting line-up.
“He's going to get more and more opportunities with me,” Robinson told reporters at training this week. “He's training very well. He will get his chance and when he gets his chance he's got to take his chance and that's what I want from all these young players – when they get their opportunity to try and grab it with both hands. They'll be in the team, they'll be out of the team, they might not be in the 18, but it's part of their development as well.”
“I think you saw when he held the ball in the box on Sunday what an excellent target man he can be,” Robinson continued. “One thing that's levied at us is we don't have a big guy in the box. Well we do have a big guy now, who's fit and we are able to put him into that area if we want.”
Still only 20 years old, the striker is in his fourth season in Major League Soccer after becoming Vancouver's first ever SuperDraft pick in 2011 at 17 years of age. Salgado said he’s seen a lot of growth in the league since that point. He can only see that quality growing and is very keen to play a part in that.
“MLS is growing at a crazy pace since the first year I got here to where we are now,” Salgado said. “You can see it, I've felt it and I feel it every year. The play just gets better and better. It's going to be harder to play in MLS every year.”
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