U.S. U-20 forward Omar Salgado was my first pick (third overall) in the SB Nation MLS Mock Draft tonight, and I feel good about it (although I really wanted Perry Kitchen).
Salgado is only 17 years old. This is a major problem for D.C. United since the team has no experience in transitioning teenagers from youth teams to the professional league.
Oh wait. No. That's not right at all. D.C. United actually happens to be the best team in MLS at transitioning teenagers from youth teams to the professional league.
Bill Hamid and Andy Najar came first. They each went from Academy players to MLS starters in under a year. Conor Shanosky and Ethan White will attempt to do the same in 2011. If all goes according to plan, Salgado will join them. Here's my explanation for selecting Omar Salgado in the MLS Mock Draft.
I don’t expect United to compete for MLS Cup in 2011. Rather, United’s young coaching staff is building a group of young hard-working talented individuals who can grow while playing together over the course of the next few years. Salgado will fit right in with that group. He even trained with them for a few weeks in November.
The team hasn’t been shy about saying that they desire an attacking player in the draft, which makes a lot of sense considering they scored the fewest goals in MLS last season. So even though I think that Will Bruin is more capable of starting in March 2011, and would make a more immediate impact on the scoring sheet, I’m selecting Salgado because I think he has a much higher ceiling. The young forward’s size and vision will be a fantastic addition for United for years to come.
I don't know if Salgado will get major minutes for United in 2011, but he is the type of big target forward that I think we need to help integrate wingers Santino Quaranta, Andy Najar, and Chris Pontius into the attack. He could also fit into the concept behind Olsen's Army. As he told MLS Soccer's Noah Davis, Salgado knows that he's going to have to work to earn minutes.
Salgado, for his part, sounds committed to improving. He references the development of Agudelo, who went from sitting on the New York Red Bulls bench to scoring for the US senior national team in a matter of weeks, as an inspiration, making sure to note that Hans Backe rewarded his youngster with playing time because of a year of hard work, not just a couple weeks of strong training.