When the Houston Dynamo announced the signing of Academy forward Bryan Salazar last week, the decision turned some heads in the soccer community. Salazar, a six-year member of the Dynamo Academy, presented by Statoil, has never been a member of a youth national team and until recently was off the radar of national youth soccer writers. But with his recent form for the Dynamo U-18s and his success playing against the first team in preseason scrimmages, the Dynamo, and media, were forced to take note.
“Bryan is a good player who has caught the attention of [head coach] Dominic [Kinnear],” said Dynamo president Chris Canetti. “Dom thinks he is physically ready to face the rigors of being a professional soccer player and we are happy that he chose to sign with the Dynamo.”
While the prospect of signing a homegrown player is exciting for any club, Canetti and the Dynamo understand that Salazar is a long-term project. Prior to the announcement, the club discussed a plan to provide the Fort Bend Bush High School senior with the tools to be successful both on and off the field.
“He is a young man who just turned 18 and we are responsible for providing him with the tools to help him mature as a professional athlete,” Canetti said. “We have a system in place, people in place, that are going to mentor him and provide him guidance as far as training, fitness, nutrition and certain life skills.”
Salazar traveled to Charleston meet his new teammates last weekend, but he will not train with the Dynamo full time until he graduates from high school on June 7. In the meantime, he will continue to train with the Dynamo Academy with sporadic training sessions with Kinnear's squad when time allows.
The Dynamo are also prepared to help Salazar with regard to furthering his education. The young prospect had offers from several top collegiate soccer programs – including the University of North Carolina – before signing with the Dynamo. Once Salazar graduates from high school, the club will to look to enroll him in a local college so he can be a professional athlete, but also work toward a degree.
“I think the club has learned a lot from previous experiences with young players,” Canetti continued. “We need to do a better job providing tools for these players to succeed and we feel we have addressed that through some of the plans we have put in place.”
“When these players come to us, there is only one thing we want them to do and that is to succeed,” added Kinnear. “We want them to stay with us, to play for the first team and to become good professionals, not only for American soccer and Major League Soccer, but for the city of Houston.”