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  1. And there's still time to continue my Carlton Cole rumours and start a new Robbie Keane one. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  2. The debates still rage on today as to whether selecting Salgado in the 2011 SuperDraft in the first place was the right decision by then boss Teitur Thordarson. The story, as we've been told it over the years, is that Salgado was Thordarson's choice. Tommy Soehn would have preferred to go with Darlington Nagbe but word had been put out, rightly or wrongly, that Nagbe didn't want to come to Vancouver. The Whitecaps clearly wouldn't want another Vancouver Grizzlies/ Steve Francis farce on their hands it was cited. For those that don't know, and I was one, Francis was selected by the Grizzlies in the 1999 NBA draft but refused to come and play for Vancouver in a PR nightmare. Whether Nagbe would have come to Vancouver and whether he would have developed at the levels that he has in Portland are all speculation and assumption now. The Whitecaps got Salgado and his four years in Vancouver were anything but stellar, but to be fair to the 21-year-old striker for a minute, injuries played a major and frustrating part to his fledgling pro career. Drafted as a 17 year old, Salgado was used somewhat sparingly in his rookie season by both Thordarson and Soehn. He made 14 appearances, five of them starts, in the Whitecaps disastrous inaugural season in Major League Soccer, grabbing his one and only MLS goal in the 2-1 loss at Columbus Crew on 30th April 2011. He often cut a moping figure on the training pitch and was involved that season in the first of his many training ground spats, that time with Residency player Derrick Bassi. Under new manager Martin Rennie, it looked like Salgado was going to have a new lease of life. Many people, myself included, had a change of opinion about him as he reinvented himself as a left winger and had some impact for the 'Caps. There were to be six appearances for Salgado in April and May, five of them starts, before two years of setbacks after suffering a foot injury while with the US U-20 team in June 2012. Those injuries restricted Salgado to just 21 appearances and 902 MLS minutes prior to this season. But then a fully fit Salgado turned up for preseason looking lean, mean and hungry to get back into the mix in the starting eleven. I liked what I saw. He looked the real deal but yet his attitude issues still plagued him. He threw preseason strops when substituted, disrespected coaching staff, was given a very clear warning in front of the rest of the squad (and me) down in Portland at the Rose City invitational and then got into an on-pitch tussle with Kekuta Manneh in an intra-squad game. Manneh was on his own team. The writing looked on the wall and Carl Robinson's patience was being tested to the max. Salgado was sent down to Charleston Battery but was then brought back when Kenny Miller headed home to Scotland and the Whitecaps found themselves with a strikers shortage. This could have been his chance but this time a combination of both attitude and performance hampered him. Robinson gave him chances. He made appearances, two of them starts, this season in MLS but looked average at best in his 198 minutes. There had been some issues off the pitch again but then came the final straw in September when he lunged dangerously from behind at Residency player Mitch Piraux in training after seeing the red mist following a non-call (as he saw it) on a Piraux tackle on him. It was a horror tackle. The kind that would have been condemned if it had been on an opposing player never mind his own teammate. Piraux was left with stud marks up his calf. Kendall Waston had to be restrained from going after Salgado and he was banished to the side for the rest of the session and shunned by his teammates. Robinson's patience had run out and Salgado was sent packing, this time to Mexico for a training stint with Tigres. His days as a Whitecaps were clearly over. Tigres made an offer to sign him but the 'Caps didn't accept right away as they weighed up their options. Salgado flew back to sort things out and find out why, and also to have his end of season exit interview with Robinson. Oh to be a fly on the wall of that one! We can only add two and two right now and hope not to make five by saying that Tigres are surely the unnamed international club that he is set to depart to. There has been interest from others in Mexico though, so who knows. Whoever it is, he's gone now and Robinson explained a little bit today about his departure. "Omar's situation is a fantastic, unique situation I'll say," Robinson told reporters at the Whitecaps front office on Monday afternoon. "The footballing side is that Omar wants to go and play somewhere. He was a little bit frustrated here and I understand it in a way but I've 26 players here that want to play every minute of every game and unfortunately that doesn't happen. "It's the best solution for all of us. For the club, for Omar, for me and I hope he goes now and plays where wants to play, which is the important thing." There is no doubt that Salgado has the ability and if he can sort out his attitude and borderline anger issues, then he could have a promising career ahead of him. If he doesn't, he'll just be another young player washed up in his mid 20's. It's all up to him now, and maybe a fresh start is all that he's needed. Well, that and actually consistent playing time. "I think all players, not just young players [do]," Robinson said. "If you move a player it doesn't mean that you think they're a bad player or a bad character. Sometimes situations dictate what happens with players. Omar's still the same player that he was when he drafted him. He's a fantastic young talent. I'm sure now he's still a fantastic young talent. He's got great potential but he needs to play. "Probably his chances here to play would have been limited so I wanted to give him the opportunity to go and play somewhere else. I wish him all the best, I really do." So injuries and attitude aside, if Salgado was such a talent, why did it not work out for him in Vancouver? "Omar showed glimpses last year when he come on and when he started one or tow games but he was frustrated at not starting every game and I understand that," Robinson continued. "I don't want players that are unhappy that when they don't start games or don't get the game time that they, you know... "I understand that in a certain way but what I need to have as well is players that respect certain situations and scenarios. There were ups and downs with Omar, like there is with all my players, so I understand it in a way but we're moving on now. Both parties are moving on." The deal with New York City is a strange one. The Caps trade him to New York but they will flip him right away to this unnamed international club once there is an agreement of personal terms, medical exam, and receipt of Salgado's International Transfer Certificate. So why did the move have to come about as it did? And why did the Whitecaps not just sell Salgado themselves to the mysterious club? Robinson couldn't go into full details but basically said that MLS rules prevented them selling the player before the Expansion Draft and if they didn't move him on then they would have needed to protect Salgado at the expense of another player that he wants to keep around. "Obviously with the expansion draft we can only protect 11 players," Robinson explained. "If we try and sell a player prior to the expansion draft then it's probably gaining an advantage, so there was deal set up with New York and we're happy with that, NYCFC are happy with that and we wish the player all the best" So does the deal with one of MLS' two newest clubs have an agreement built in that New York won't pick any Vancouver players in Wednesday's Expansion Draft? "Maybe a friendly agreement, yeah," Robinson joked when we asked him. "No, there's not an official agreement, no. I'm hoping they don't and they pass on that." We'll find out on Wednesday.
  3. I was down in Seattle last weekend for the Western Conference final second leg and after clinching their ninth final appearance, the Galaxy players and management had no doubts about what it was that saw them past the Sounders and saw their MLS dominance continue. "Experience is a factor," admitted Galaxy coach Bruce Arena. "We've been through a lot this year. I think we got better in the second half of the season to protect leads." The goalscoring hero on the night, Juninho, backed up his coach's thoughts. "We are a very experienced group, we know that," Juninho said. "We don't get nervous in moments like that. We know we have very good players and when you need a player they are there." It sometimes feels that LA just bring in big name players on a constant stream, but eight of the Galaxy's 11 starters had previously played in a MLS Cup final. Of the team that started LA's 2012 win, four started this year's final, with another two on the bench, so there's a lesser element of stability to it all as well. "We're a team full of Champions and winners and that's what separates us," Landon Donovan told reporters after the win over Seattle. "We're very proud of that fact. Some days it's the guys you expect and some days it's the guys you don't and that's what champions do. "We have a lot of guys here who have won, in their career. That's a big advantage over a lot of other teams, including Seattle. They don't have a ton of guys who have won a lot of Championships. We know how to win, in any scenario. That's what we pride ourselves on. We're not always perfect, we know that." And that's just it, they're not. LA are there for the taking over the course of the season, especially away from home. They've had sluggish starts the last couple of years, but when the going gets tough, and other teams like the Whitecaps start having summer slumps, the Galaxy seem to find another gear to kick into to push on stronger and take them over the line and into the playoffs in form. Experience does that, as does having a winning mentality at the club. Winning becomes a habit. "It's everything," admitted Omar Gonzalez. "Once you start winning everyone knows the feeling, everyone wants it more. Everyone wants another ring, another Championship, when are we going to get the next one." Gonzalez also gave a nod to team chemistry. There is no doubt that the Whitecaps had such chemistry in abundance under Carl Robinson this year. There's no signs to suggest that it is going anywhere either. The 'Caps also started to develop a strong winning mentality under Robinson this past season and that is something else that has to continue if Vancouver are going to take the next step forward and stop being the last team in the West to clinch a playoff berth and go further than a first round exit. Robinson told us on the latest AFTN podcast that he doesn't want the Whitecaps to be a team that just sneaks into the playoffs and will challenge his squad to take that next step and genuinely compete with the likes of LA and Seattle on a regular basis late in the season. Robinson has build an exciting crop of young talent at the 'Caps and he's keen to not dismantle it, but at the same time, he wants to improve every area if he can and one of the big improvements for the overall squad will be to get some more experience in there. Some more veteran presence from players who have done it and won trophies. After Kenny Miller left, Andy O'Brien did well as the veteran guy imparting knowledge and taking some of the young 'uns under his wing. Mauro Rosales did the same when he came in towards the end of the season. Realistically, both players might not be with Vancouver next season. The Whitecaps only had three players over the age of 30 in the squad that finished the season (O'Brien, Rosales and Mehdi Ballouchy). The Galaxy had ten, five of whom started the MLS Cup final against the Revolution. Vancouver do have 30-year-old Jordan Harvey and Pedro Morales and David Ousted, both 29, falling into the veteran category too, however. The Whitecaps average squad age is 23.85 years old, the Galaxy's is 26.7 years old. LA have done an excellent job in getting their talented younger players minutes and having them make a key impact alongside experienced players who know how to win trophies. It's a model that the Whitecaps need to try and emulate, albeit on a much smaller budget. It was great to see Robinson give so much of the young talent a shot this season and they will have learned a lot from their experiences. What was very evident though is how many of them are confident players and when things are going well they are flying, but when the going gets tough, they struggle a bit to cope and get themselves out of the ruts and slumps that invariably come. While Vancouver were bringing on the youth of Kekuta Manneh, Darren Mattocks and Erik Hurtado to try and get them points late on in games, LA were bringing on Alan Gordon to get the business done. That's a difference and that's why Robinson told us that he's looking for those extra 20 to 25 goals next season to be up with the LAs and Seattles of the league. What the 'Caps young stars showed and learned in the season run-in can only bode well though and Robinson has certainly laid the foundations for what could be a very formidable Whitecaps side for years to come. He just needs those few pieces, especially in the striking department. The silly season gets underway in MLS on Monday when the trade window opens ahead of a week of drafts. Robinson told us that he'll only move someone on if he has something better lined up, so just how busy the 'Caps will be will be interesting. But the Whitecaps need to look at getting some experience in. Some wily MLS veterans and an experienced striker from overseas. The younger players in the team need it badly to continue their development and learn from players who can take the team over the finish line when it really matters late in the season. The Whitecaps have a strong and talented young core. They now need to take a leaf out of the Galaxy's playbook and mix in the experience of some players who have been there, done it and have the medals to prove it. Finding them in the salary cap land of MLS is the struggle but if Vancouver want to move on to that next level next season and be serious MLS Cup contenders, they have to make the moves and some of them will have to be at the expense of one or two of the current crop of young talent.
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