Sporting will be without five starters for Thursday’s home match against Philadelphia (8:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE), thanks to a triple whammy of international duty, injury, and suspension. Still, Salloi’s first MLS goal – a 60th-minute equalizer in Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Portland – raises hopes that the 20-year-old forward, who now has two goals across all competitions in recent weeks, can pick up the slack.
“I don’t feel like it is a pressure. I feel like it is a great opportunity since so many players are gone,” said Salloi, who came on in the 35th minute after winger Gerso had to leave the match with a separated shoulder. “Unfortunately Gerso got hurt, I feel bad for him, but it’s an opportunity for me to show myself and play well and score goals and be a part of the team. So I don’t feel pressure. I’m happy that I could score and that we got the point and we’ll keep working.”
Sporting are likely to call heavily upon Salloi in coming matches. That's not just because of Gerso’s injury, which is expected to keep him out for 2-3 weeks, but because of striker Dom Dwyer’s absence with the US national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
““He knows, and we’ve been talking about this, his progression has been very good,” manager Peter Vermes said. “There’s always aspects that a player needs to continue to get better at, but if there’s one thing that I’ve said about him, and I’ll keep repeating it, is that anytime he’s in or around the box, he’s deadly.
"He has a good goalscorer’s mentality. He wants to score, but not at the detriment to the team. Not where he’s selfish at times but he picks and chooses the right moments. But the movement that he had off the ball for that goal was world class. It was an excellent finish.”
“He’s been training very well and working hard,” Vermes said. “There’s a reason that we’ve been sending him, when there’s a chance that doesn’t affect us, to Swope Park Rangers to make sure he keeps getting fit so he can play. That wasn’t even a question in regards to the game. It’s not like, ‘Is he going to be okay to play all these minutes,’ but he was great.
“He understands everything we’re trying to do. It’s just repetition for him.”