Update to this story: After KTSM published this article, Omar Salgado tweeted, “Thank you Locomotive FC for the last two years! It’s been an honor and a pleasure playing for my hometown club. Made some memories and great friends along the way. 8th Notch, you guys always had my back, thank you. Wishing you guys all the best in the future,” seemingly signifying his official departure from the team.
EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – El Paso Locomotive FC announced another big free agent signing on Thursday, netting striker Luis Solignac.
He has extensive MLS experience, and scored eight goals for USL Championship rival San Antonio FC in 2020. With the addition of Solignac and other attacking players this offseason, what does that mean for the first player El Paso ever signed: Omar Salgado?
He’s currently rehabbing a torn ACL, and his future with Locomotive is murky at best.
Salgado was playing some of the best soccer of his career, until a routine play last September at Southwest University Park.
“I don’t really know what happened, it was just one of those crazy plays where you end up tearing your ACL,” Salgado said. “I didn’t get pushed or anything, I was on my own and just felt it snap.”
For the second time in his career, the striker suffered a torn ACL, ending his 2020 season in which he scored two goals and dished out a pair of assists as one of El Paso’s top attacking players.
“I’ve been working really hard trying to get back to full fitness,” Salgado said. “I’m only three months in, but hopefully by August I’ll be 100 percent and ready to play in a 90-minute game.”
The question now, though, is where his next 90 minute game might be. Salgado and Locomotive management each told KTSM that the two sides haven’t spoken since October.
“He’s no longer under contract with the Locomotive and we wish him the very best with his rehab and his other pursuits, whether its in soccer, the legal field or beyond,” said Alan Ledford, president of MountainStar Sports Group, which oversees Locomotive, FC Juarez and the El Paso Chihuahuas.
For his part, Salgado understands the business aspect. Where things were left when he last spoke with the club: recover first, then see where things stand. The 10-year veteran said his surgery and rehab expenses are currently being covered by the club’s worker’s compensation program.
“This is a business and numbers come into play no matter who you are or what you did. We’ll see what the options are at that point, where I’m headed and what direction I’ll take.”
The first overall pick in the 2011 MLS Super Draft, Salgado was signed in the summer of 2018 as Locomotive’s first player, a hometown talent with superstar pedigree. But two and a half years later, that may no longer be the case.
Rehabbing an ACL injury with no club to train with will be difficult, but expect multiple teams to give him a look when he’s healthy. If Salgado doesn’t receive an offer he likes, though, he has a back-up plan: Salgado began law school at Boston College last fall. He has hopes of beginning of career in big law, whenever his playing career comes to an end.
“It just depends on what options I have. My only intent is to recover and be 100 percent, be available for El Paso, or any other team and at that point to decide whether I want to continue going to law school or continue my career,” Salgado said.
No matter what happens, one of the Sun City’s best to ever lace them up is completely at peace.
“I play soccer because I enjoy and I love the sport,” said Salgado. “I’ve had a 10-year career, and I’ve enjoyed every second of it. If it continues, I’d love it, and if it doesn’t, I’m ok with that.”
Salgado told KTSM that he would love the chance to keep playing for his hometown club and Locomotive FC management didn’t completely shut the door, either. Head coach Mark Lowry has never been shy about signing players midseason.
“There’s always some changes and evolution to the team over the course of the season and their eyes are always wide open,” Ledford said.
It’s something to watch this summer, once Salgado is healthy in August. However, with the players El Paso has signed in the offseason and Salgado rehabbing, Locomotive’s first player will not be with them when the season begins, and the possibility that Salgado has played his last game for El Paso is very much on the table.