BURNABY, B.C. – Two starts in a row for Omar Salgado?
Hearing head coach Martin Rennie this week, that sounds like the plan for the 18-year-old forward turned left winger as the Vancouver Whitecaps prepare for Saturday’s matchup against the Columbus Crew (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
GOAL: Salgado helps set up Le Toux
“I think [the chances of him starting] are pretty good,” Rennie told MLSsoccer.com after a training session at Burnaby Lake field on Wednesday. “He’s trained well this week, and if he continues to do that, then he’s always got a chance to play and as a young player he’ll probably be up and down and maybe in and out a little bit, but right now he’s doing well and I’m sure he’s got a good chance.”
The lanky Texan, who teammates have praised for coming into preseason camp with a more mature attitude and an improved work ethic, did well to hug the left touchline against FC Dallas last Saturday. On a number of occasions, Salgado drove the ball to the corner flag before hitting well-placed driven crosses into dangerous areas for Vancouver’s strikers to attack.
That delivery caused Rennie to describe him as “the best player at the club at crossing the ball with pressure on him,” following that 1-0 victory.
“Martin Rennie has really given me confidence starting me this Saturday,” Salgado said following practice. “I have to respect that and give him my all, and fight for him. You have to work hard, and when the game comes, give it your all – you have to use that opportunity to show you belong there.”
Still, there’s still plenty the first overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft needs to work on if he’s to fulfill the early potential he’s shown in the position, according to Rennie.
“There’s tons of areas [he can improve] because he’s just learning [the position],” Rennie said. “He’s still very young. A lot of it is movement, positioning, when to take people on, when to pass, when to try and get in at the back post, when to try and be in front of the center forward to flick on.
“There’s a lot for him to learn, but the main thing is he’s eager to learn and he’s working hard, and he’s doing a good job when he’s out there, so I think he just needs to continue to do what he’s doing and try to keep his place in the team.”
Left back Alain Rochat told reporters Saturday’s match against the Columbus Crew is probably too soon for his return from an MCL sprain, but he’s targeting next Wednesday’s Canadian Championship match against FC Edmonton.
Camilo didn’t participate in full training, and just did work on his own as he nurses a tight thigh.
Darren Mattocks is expected to begin training while the team is on the road as he looks to begin a comeback after suffering burns during a cooking accident in late March. Rennie explained the Jamaican hasn’t been able to train up until now as the burned area needs to heal so he can sweat properly.
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.