SBI MLS Rookie of the Week

SBI MLS Rookie of the Week: Sebastian Velasquez


Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com

Not many MLS fans were aware of exactly who Real Salt Lake was picking when the club selected Sebastian Velasquez in the second round of this past January's MLS SuperDraft. They have a better idea now. 

The unheralded Velasquez earned a surprise start and was an integral part of RSL's 3-1 victory over the defending champion Los Angeles Galaxy Saturday night, winning the season's first SBI MLS Rookie of the Week honors.

Velasquez, 21, was born in Colombia but moved to the United States when he was 2 and holds dual United States-Colombia citizenship, according to RSL. A midfielder out of Spartanburg Methodist College in South Carolina, the diminutive Velasquez started in place of the injured Will Johnson and served in the cross that Sean Franklin hit into his own net for an equalizing own goal. He was also key in helping RSL win the possession battle, proving himself as another capable option in Jason Kreis' midfield.

Velasquez outlasted Portland Timbers centerback Andrew Jean-Baptiste, who scored in his debut against the Philadelphia Union, and New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara, who made a handful of big saves in New York's loss to FC Dallas, to win the weekly honors.

What did you think of Velasquez' performance? Which MLS rookies did you think stood out in Week 1?

Share your thoughts below.

  • The Imperative Voice

    Can someone who turned 23 last year be on a U23 side this year? Because he turned 23 last winter. He turns 24 this December.

    I’d agree that Silva is the more interesting player presently but people continue to neglect the pecking order aspect when talking about Wooten, Silva, and other players. Stephens is (a) a professional with experience and (b) a historical USYNT pool player. Silva is fresh from UCSB, not a USYNT pipeline guy, and has just now burst onto the scene. While Silva looks better he has to push his way ahead of people in the system for years to do it.

    Ditto Wooten. The resume looks interesting but it’s lower division stuff, he’s not been previously in the pipeline, and so he had a narrow camp window to force his way into the pecking order. It appears he was unsuccessful.

    It’s not even necessarily that some of the pipeline players are better, but anyone who’s ever had to make a club, HS, college, or men’s league team should understand how the forces of incumbency can be, and that when pitted against them you better stand out. The US youth pool is notably full of first division first teamers these days and I think that will make it harder for reservists and collegians to break in. This is not the 80s or 90s when these teams were stocked with 4 year collegians. That makes it harder for Silva.

    Don’t get me wrong, it can be beat, Boyd and Morales don’t have real first team experience, just dressing, but maybe that suggests they showed and others didn’t. Which may be why they dress in the B.1 and others play in the RW.


  • Ivan

    Great Work Tian! From junior college to rookie starter! Excited about the future RSLTID!


  • marco

    Do you have to be 23 at time of Olympics or end of year? Very good analysis on the ‘club’ mentality. Everything makes sense except it doesn’t improve my dislike for Stephens play.


  • Neruda

    The bleached rat tail is bad but Velasquez is here to make a statement and the hair has become one his signatures. RSL fans don’t care because if he keeps running at defenders, putting in dangerous crosses and hustles on defense he will help the team win. RSL has espindola and now Velasquez and tanaka with the funky hairdos. Fans will embrace it.


  • 2tone

    Thats all fine and good, but in Wootens case he is dressing for Kaiserslauterns first team. Not only that Slautern were no willing to part ways with him for th qualifying tournament. nayways Stephens was selected, but probably wil not see the field. Would rather have seen Luis Gil added.


  • briandender@charter.net

    The answer to that is no! He was invited as a freshman in High School to the IMG academy to train with the US but found out that he is not eligible.


  • Air Jordanz

    The article above says he has dual Colombian-American citizenship.

    If that is the case, then he IS able to play for the U.S. now, since I’m pretty sure Colombia hasn’t cap tied him yet.


  • Air Jordanz

    Nevermind… for some reason Soccerway had him as a Mexican national during the CCL match, but Wikipedia’s got his birthplace as LA.


  • abc

    Lots of misinformation being posted as fact….

    Velasquez IS eligible to play for the US. He is a dual citizen and is obviously not cap-tied to any team… has he even made a single youth national team appearance for any country at any point in his life? I doubt it. Guys like that typically don’t end up at random junior colleges with even most experts not knowing who they are when they’re selected in the MLS draft.

    Silva IS also eligible to play for the US, but not for the US Olympic team, as he was born in December. Like CJ Sapong and Omar Gonzalez, he misses the cutoff by a few days. Obviously they’re not going to select some random rookie as one of the three over-age players, so there’s no way he’s at the Olympics unless he’s watching.


  • Aaron

    I’m a big RSL fan and becoming a Sebastian Velasquez fan, but there is no way I am embrassing that rat tail. Horrible! Why didn’t Morales and Olave shave the whole head?


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