Every year before the draft, Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey reminds the media not to get too excited.
The speech usually goes that rookies aren’t expected to contribute in their first year. In fact, Garth just hopes that a few of the picks can make the team.
That’s why Saturday’s start for Sebastien Velasquez was so surprising.
With injuries sidelining Will Johnson and limiting Javier Morales, Salt Lake’s late draft pick got the call from coach Jason Kreis.
“It was an incredible feeling,” Velasquez said. “I was just so excited to be out there.”
But Velasquez did more than just fill a spot. He contributed significantly to the match firing in the cross that led to the match-tieing own goal.
“When I saw the defender was on the ground and the keeper was raising his hands, I was like… it went in,” Velasquez said.
The 20 year-old also got Salt Lake’s first shot of the match, though he missed it wide to the left.
He got another late in the first half when the rebound from Paulo Jr’s shot fell right to him in the box. This shot was close but still missed wide to the left.
Velasquez wasn’t done. The young starter dribbled through a few Galaxy defenders in the 61st minute before being cut down and earning a dangerous free kick for his side.
The decision to start the draft pick and former trialist in Barcelona FC’s system was all merit according to Kreis.
“He’s really, really mature for his age and really, really mature for his experience level,” Kreis said. “He played outstanding tonight.”
Velasquez even got to stay on in the 65th minute when Luis Gil left the match for Morales. He would eventually leave in the 89th minute when Kreis made a defensive substitution.
Only time will tell if Saturday’s unlikely starter gets more action in the coming weeks. But this youngster clearly has a future in Salt Lake.