It was announced on Friday that Omar Salgado would not have to wait until September to make his MLS and Whitecaps debut. Both the league and the organization were able to convince FIFA to make an exception to the rule that would have delayed the start to the teenager’s professional career. Normally a player under the age of eighteen can’t play professionally for a team outside of their country but the exception was made as the team’s argument that MLS was a North American league must have changed FIFA’s mind.
Now that Salgado is eligible to play, after he is done with the U20 CONCACAF tournament, this may change how Vancouver plans to use with their final three international roster spots. The Whitecaps now have 5 players listed at the striker position as their depth chart includes Eric Hassli and Atiba Harris as starters and Omar Salgado, Camilo and Long Tan as reserves. In addition to those players Davide Chiumiento could slide up as a withdrawn striker. With Salgado now available for the Caps will they use that forward slot at another part of the roster?
It is assumed that the Caps will still sign Mouloud Akloul to one of the spots once he is fully healthy (Akloul was part of the 30 day countdown promotion and is in the team picture). The last two spots were thought by many to be most likely an attacking midfielder and another striker as the team was not expecting Salgado to join them until September. Maybe they could bring a defender in who could bring some international experience to the right back position and solidify the backline. With injury concerns in the midfield the Caps could sign someone to provide insurance for the central midfield or at winger.
After signing Akloul, once healthy, I would like to see the Whitecaps sign a fullback who would be able to start on the right side and be able to back up the left side and the centre. Leathers is a solid back but lacks a dynamic side while Knight is not as strong a defender. If they could find a back similar to Rochat for the right side, the backline would be one of the strongest in MLS. The last international spot would need to be a diverse player that can be an attacking midfielder, either centrally or as a winger, and can also double up as a forward.
With the Whitecaps having 28 players on the roster, they will have to release one domestic player in order to sign the remaining three international slots. They made trades after the expansion draft and acquired two spots and it makes no sense for them to waste those this year. Salgado’s availability to the Whitecaps has given them the flexibility and they should not be so desperate to sign another pure striker.