Salgado's Choice

Monday, July 26, 2010 | View Comments

Omar Salgado's story, moving to the US after being dropped by Chivas Gudalajara because he accepted an invitation to join the US U-20s, is intriguing. He's now signed up with MLS on a Generation Adidas contract and will enter the 2011 draft; with an expected loan this summer to a DII club (perhaps one of the two 2011 expansion sides), he could conceivably be on a senior roster by next summer in a rising league that is suddenly growing its list of young talent.

Why did Salgado accept Thomas Rongen's invite? Chivas' Mexico eligible-only policy is well known, and if Salgado wanted to stay, agreeing to play for the US was a risky move. It doesn't seem too far-fetched to think he knew what he was doing all along and chose a path that he knew would get him released in the belief that MLS was a better place for him. He didn't want to stay in other words, and his club career was the driving force rather than his national team future.

If only because he'll get a shot to prove he can play right away at the top level here, something that came more difficultly at Chivas. At 16, "buried" in the system in Guadalajara, it could be years before he got his shot to become the next Chicharito. Meanwhile, teenagers are making a mark in MLS, getting a chance to show their abilities. Perhaps impatience won out. No one would argue that MLS is yet a better place for a player of Salgado's age to develop, but if he thinks he's ready, wants to get the clock started on his exposure to European scouts (if he hold those ambitions), and appreciates where MLS stands, then this whole funny business makes a little more sense.

It could backfire, of course. Salgado isn't guaranteed to feature with whatever MLS team he joins next year. He might be sent out on loan regularly (see: McInerney, Jack) or simply sit on the bench. The time he needs to adjust to the senior level could be prolonged, or his progress might be stunted by suddenly leaving Chivas.

Or I've got this all wrong and Salgado is just an example of a kid with dual-citizenship who decided he'd rather play for the US (right now*) than Mexico. As an American, that makes me happy. As a fan of MLS, it makes me happy that Chivas pushed him out the door in response. The more young talent in the league, the better.

My whole argument could be shot if there was ever a chance MLS wouldn't sign Salgado; that's almost inconceivable.

Whether he's here for his international aspirations or for his club prospects, Salgado's decision will ultimately shape his future. For the sake of whichever MLS team drafts him and the National Team, let's hope it works out.

By the way, Salgado scored the winning goal for the U-20s in a Milk Cup win over China earlier today.

*Obviously, Salgado is not tied to the US or Mexico at this point. Should he reach the level where he's ready for senior international duty, he could play for either country. For the time being, he's saying all the right things.

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