BRIAN SCIARETTA - Thursday, October 21, 2010
After enjoying a breakout summer with the US U20 national team, forward Omar Salgado recently returned from a successful two week training session with Everton FC in preparation for the upcoming MLS draft.
Salgado went over to England to play with Everton from September 27th through October 8th after competing in Peru with the US U-20 team. While in Liverpool, he trained with the club's U18 and reserve team.
At the conclusion of the two week stint, Salgado says he received positive feedback from the Everton's youth coaches and recruiting directors.
"I think it was great," Salgado told YA. "I got used to playing with older guys and then when I got to playing with players my age I stood out. I did really well. They told me I did really well too. They are really interested and they were going to keep following me in MLS."
The highlight of the trip for Salgado came when he got to participate in a game with the club's U18 game against Colchester and scored the game's first goal in Everton's 3-0 victory. The goal was just one of the many positives of his trip where he learned a lot about the game at the next level.
"It was a great experience," Salgado recalled. "There was a lot of speed and I definitely learned how to play faster with the ball. If you want to play in England, you have to press the ball faster because they are going to hit you. That's what I've learned there."
Salgado's uniquely tall frame at 6'4" has given him an advantage over players but he has tried to set himself apart by focusing his game on his skills with the ball. These attributes were what helped him succeed in England.
"I think I am good with the ball and I am tall," the El Paso native discussed. "That gives me an advantage because most tall players aren't very good with their feet. I guess that is an advantage for me. With my head, I am getting better each year. With my height, I can use that to my advantage because against smaller players I can bump them off the ball."
Salado will now use the experience in England to prepare for his first MLS season next year. Over the summer he signed a Generation Adidas contract with the league and he will enter the MLS draft in January where he is expected to be one of the top picks.
"I love MLS," Salgado exclaimed. "It's a great league and it's getting better every year. It's improving. I think it will get to be one of the best leagues in the world. I am expecting next year to be a great year for me. Hopefully, I will get into the starting eleven. I just want to play and score."
"I've been following the league this year and any team would be great for me," he continued. "The Galaxy is doing great this year but that can change. It changes and that is how the MLS is. It's more fair than any other league in the world."
Salgado will start off in MLS but his goal down the line is to play in Europe. He feels that MLS is an excellent path for Americans to take before transitioning to Europe in the mold of players like Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu and Michael Bradley.
"That's my goal," Salgado said of his eventual desire to play in the big leagues of Europe. "I want to start out in MLS and hopefully make my move to Europe as soon as I can. I will do my best in every league I play and in every season in MLS. I'd like to play anywhere in Europe. My dream is to play for Real Madrid. But I love the English style. It's rough and hard. There is a lot of speed in the game. You have to be tough and strong to play in that league and I think I can do that."
Salgado's path to Europe is also expected to be made much easier in the coming months when he is expected to obtain a Spanish passport. Salgado was born in California to Mexican born parents but he has a grandfather from Spain which will open the door to a coveted EU passport.
"I have eligibility for a [Spanish passport]," Salgado explained. "My father turned in his papers to become a Spanish citizen and he got them back so he is Spanish now. I am now in the process of getting my passport. I'll get it maybe in a few more months."
The trip did end on a negative note for Salgado as he pulled his thigh muscle and is now undergoing physical therapy in El Paso to get ready for scheduled training in Houston followed by a US U20 national team camp and tournament to begin in late November in Atlanta.
Earlier this year the Texan departed Mexican club Chivas de Guadalajara stating his intention was to play internationally for the US and not Mexico.
Salgado was then called by head coach Thomas Rongen to join the U20 national team in June for a camp in San Jose. Now a regular with the team, Salgado has seen enough to be excited with the potential of the team.
"I think it's a great team," Salgado evaluated. "We can do really well in the World Cup. We have the players and we have a lot of depth everywhere. There are players that haven't even been called in that could be on the team, it's just a great squad."
Despite being a regular with the team, Salgado feels it will be a challenge to make the World Cup roster because of the depth at the forward position which includes many players who haven't been released by their clubs.
These players include Jack McInerney, Bobby Wood, Juan Agudelo, Adrian Ruelas, Conor Doyle, and Tristian Bowen who will all make the competition for a World Cup roster spot intense.
"It's a huge challenge for me because I am the youngest one and I don't have as much experience as the guys that are two years older than me. It's a big challenge and there is a lot of competition in every single camp. I just have to keep doing my best to make the team [each camp]."
One of the reasons why Salgado's transition to the US team has been successful after playing with Mexican youth national teams is due to Rongen's coaching style that emphasizes attacking soccer and possession. These are two attributes that play to Salgado's strengths.
"He has a great style," Salgado said of Rongen. "He really knows how to coach and he really knows what he's doing. I really like the style he plays. He changes it up every game depending on the [opponent]. He wants more of a possession style that keeps the ball. He likes creativity. He likes players that touch the ball quickly and take it to the other team."
Salgado, who only recently turned 17, is also eligible for the 2013 U20 World Cup but he insists that he is not thinking about that tournament and is determined to make the 2011 team instead.
"I'd much rather play in this World Cup and start out right now," Salgado concluded. "Maybe if I start doing well in MLS, I can start looking at 2014 in Brazil. But I don't know, a lot of things can happen in three or four years."