VANCOUVER, B.C. – Restricted to only 11 minutes so far for the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2012, Omar Salgado made each one count on Wednesday against Sporting KC.
The 18-year-old came on as a substitute for his first 2012 league appearance with his team down 3-0, and brought life and energy to his side’s largely fruitless attack. Just moments after stepping onto the field, Salgado's cross to Camilo led to Sebastien Le Toux’s consolation goal in Vancouver’s 3-1 loss.
It was Salgado’s first time playing as a winger at the MLS level, although head coach Martin Rennie has been trying out the top pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft down the left side during training sessions and at Reserve League level.
GOAL: Salgado helps set up Le Toux
“When I was little I played there a few times, so I was a little used to it,” Salgado told MLSsoccer.com following Wednesday’s defeat. “I enjoy it. It’s a great position for me to run at defenders and take people on, so I think I can make a bigger difference there than I would as a striker.”
Whereas last year it seemed Salgado struggled at times to keep his head up when left out of the lineup, now the El Paso native seems to be willing to bide his time more – and when his name is called, even if it’s just 11 minutes – he’s making the most of it.
“Patience and working hard [is the difference],” Salgado said. “Last year I would get frustrated a lot, and this year it’s about keeping that patience and waiting for that opportunity, and taking it.”
For captain Jay DeMerit, Salgado’s improved work ethic and willingness to wait for his chance comes as no surprise, given his age.
“You can see him maturing,” DeMerit said. “People always forget he’s only 18 years old. I think it helps when you contribute, when you come on or in the reserve games when you are making assists, or you are making goals. Or when you’re coming on with the first team and getting a bit of action.
“He’s definitely getting more of that now, and for his sake I hope it continues, and I hope it continues for our sake as well.”
Vancouver boy Lensky on trial
Jacob Lensky, a former Canadian youth international, was on trial with the Whitecaps during a training session at BC Place on Thursday. The Vancouver native most recently played for Dutch club FC Utrecht. The 23 year old has twice “retired” from professional soccer due to personal problems, and switched his international allegiance to the Czech Republic in 2009.
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.