Salihi has some skills that are seen as valuable in any league in the world - he's got a clinical finishing touch when given some room and time near goal. But Salihi's weaknesses kept him from being a regular starter for United. He's slower than most MLS players, and hasn't been able to create his own chances.
Lionard Pajoy isn't really a perfect fit either. At least not unless all we want is a hard-working ball-winner who is sometimes afraid to shoot. Pajoy might be an ideal fit for a team that plays with a lone striker and wants to win lots of 1-0 games, but that isn't what Olsen wants this team to be, and it's not necessarily what we're excited about watching either. Pajoy offers speed and anticipation. He makes long balls out of the back a viable attacking option for D.C. But his three goals scored in 985 minutes isn't a good enough strike rate for a starting forward, especially when Pajoy squandered so many chances that could have been translated into goals by a more competent striker.
So who then is that competent striker? Its not Salihi. Its not Pajoy. And its not Maicon Santos either.
Olsen's quotes to Steven Goff of the Washington Post imply that he knows that our starting striker for 2013 isn't on the roster yet. "All the forwards gave us good moments this year,: Olsen said. "None of them had a real complete year from a playing and scoring and production standpoint. So they all helped. But do we need a big-time forward? Yeah. I would like to have that. It’s not easy to get that. We will continue to search."
We don't know the name of United's next striker. So for now, let's assign a name to him.
Let's call him Hamnard Salijoy.
Our next striker isn't an American, and he won't come cheap. Our next striker is Salijoy, and he'll require a designated roster slot. But he'll be worth it.
Just imagine this: Brandon McDonald picks up his head and boots a ball over the top of the opposing back line towards the corner flag. Salijoy uses his speed to beat the defenders to the ball, he drops his shoulder and gets his body in position, then accelerates aggressively and evasively towards goal. Once he nears the box, Salijoy manages to achieve some separation from his marker, and he has the confidence to take a shot. We then see the strong finishing ability that has helped Salijoy become a competitor in the Golden Boot race. The striker blasts the ball with power and accuracy into the upper corner of the net.
Salijoy may still be a fictional character at this point, but he does exist. This isn't some mythical creature we're describing. He exists. There are strikers with the combined skills of Pajoy and Salihi, with none of the weaknesses.
Salijoy is out there. Somewhere. We just need to find him.