VANCOUVER, B.C. — Omar Salgado was back in training with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Tuesday after international duty with the United States U-19 team in the 2011 Milk Cup tournament in Northern Ireland.
Despite going unbeaten in the group stage, the American U-19s failed to advance to the final on goal differential, but rounded out the tournament with a 2-1 over Georgia to take third place.
“It was a great tournament, and a bigger role for me,” Salgado told MLSsoccer.com after training on Tuesday. “This year, we were unfortunate — by goal differential, we didn’t make it to the final, but we still have a great team, and hopefully I can make it my third [appearance at the Milk Cup] next year.”
While the 2011 Milk Cup didn’t end with a successful title defense, it was a strong tournament for Salgado individually. The Texan scored his side’s opening goal of the tournament in a 2-0 win over Israel, and wrapped up the tournament wearing the captain’s armband for the Americans’ final match against Georgia, which they won 2-1.
The Milk Cup has special meaning for Salgado — last year’s edition of that youth international tournament was the first time he represented the US after starting both his club and youth international career in Mexico. This time though, Salgado faced up against some familiar faces as the Americans drew Mexico 1-1 in the group stage.
“It’s a great experience to play against your rivals and ex-teammates from Chivas and the [Mexican] national team,” Salgado said. “I always want to beat them. Unfortunately we haven’t been winning, but we got the tie and got something out of it.”
But now, the focus for Salgado shifts back to club duties with the Whitecaps. Having only arrived in Vancouver on Sunday after a long transatlantic flight, his first practice back was one of the most combative of the season, as his teammates did their best to show the coaching staff it wasn’t a lack of effort or heart that led to Saturday’s 4-0 defeat to the LA Galaxy.
“It’s war right now,” Salgado said. “There’s a lot of rough play and everybody is playing for their jobs. It’s an amazing experience for me — not a very good one being in last place, of course, but you learn from this and take it along in your career.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @martinmacmahon