BALTIMORE – The Vancouver Whitecaps opted to attack with the first pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft on Thursday, selecting US U-20 forward Omar Salgado to help lead the team’s offensive charge in their debut season.
Salgado, who had previously trained with the Whitecaps, admitted he was surprised to be named as the first overall pick.
The 17-year-old may also be unable to play for the Whitecaps until he turns 18 as FIFA rules take exception to youth players transferring their registrations across national federations. Salgado was previously registered in Mexico, where he played for the Chivas de Guadalajara youth team.
"We had conversations about the exemptions of being able to play in Canada and just in general about how I've been doing, but they never told me I was going to be the No. 1 draft pick," Salgado told ESPN2.
Salgado has made nine appearances for the U-20 US national team, with whom he won the 2010 Milk Cup and scored a game winner in his first appearance. He was a member of C.D. Guadalajara's youth team from 2008-10 and has also played on the Mexico U-17 national team. He had also enjoyed training stints with Everton, Portland and D.C United.
"I'm a left-footer; I usually go to the left side," he said. "I can dribble, I'm a tall player, I'm good in the air, I can shoot. I'm a forward -- I can score."
He joins an expansion Whitecaps franchise that’s still building from the ground up ahead of their March 19 season opener at home against Canadian rivals Toronto FC. Vancouver added veteran scoring threat Atiba Harris, pesky two-way midfielder John Thorrington and 24-year-old midfielder Shea Salinas via the Expansion Draft in November, but they’re a team still relatively thin offensively.
The Portland Timbers used their No. 2 overall pick to select Akron forward Darlington Nagbe, while D.C. United picked up Nagbe's teammate Perry Kitchen at No. 3.
For a full breakdown of all the picks, click here.