Omar Salgado is stuck.
There's no other way to describe the situation in which the first overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft currently finds himself.
After the Vancouver Whitecaps acquired all sorts of attacking talent during the offseason to add to an already full stable — bringing in Sebastien Le Toux, drafting Darren Mattocks and signing NASL golden boot winner Etienne Barbara — it is no wonder that 18-year-old Salgado has yet to see the field this season. But aside from trotting him out for a 90-minute reserve league performance last week, the club does not seem to be making a whole lot of effort to get him consistent playing time.
Sources told Fox Soccer that Vancouver has turned away multiple trade offers within MLS while also turning down a loan opportunity in Europe for Salgado, whose Spanish passport makes him more attractive to clubs overseas. Sources also said that the Whitecaps have turned down potential loan moves to NASL clubs. As a result, Salgado is one of a number of U.S. youth internationals left in club purgatory, a topic that U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann touched on during his talk with the media on Wednesday.
"We need to find ways to get our 18-to-22-year-olds, 23-year-olds more playing time and maybe here and there more help," Klinsmann said. "On the other side, they also need to realize that they have to fight their way through the system. They have to find a way to break into the team."
For Salgado, who is still eligible for the 2013 U-20 World Cup even after competing in the 2011 cycle, the mountain to climb with the Whitecaps is quite steep. Breaking through on a club that starts Eric Hassli, Camilo and Le Toux and has all of that depth behind them is a brutal challenge, especially for the rather untested Salgado, who has 14 MLS games, five starts and one goal to his name.
If Vancouver won't trade or transfer him and is not willing to take the steps to accelerate his growth with a loan, then it appears that all of Salgado's talent and potential will toil on the bench along with him, restricting his chance to grow and contribute for both club and country in the near future.
How should Vancouver handle Salgado? Should they remain patient and bring him along on the reserve team? Do they have an obligation to loan him out if he won't get minutes with the first team? What's your take on the situation?
Share your thoughts below.