There are enough distractions in high school to make it tough for anyone to concentrate. Imagine trying to get through a day knowing you’ll make your professional debut that night. That was the day Bryan Salazar had Wednesday.
The Homegrown product made his debut in the Houston Dynamo’s 2-0 U.S. Open Cup win over FC Tucson. A week-and-a-half from his high school graduation, the 18-year-old was running the flanks against the PDL club looking for an opening and trying to digest all the instructions and action being thrown his way.
“I think Bryan, knowing he was going to start, maybe had a bit of a sleepless night last night and was maybe walking in a fog today at school,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “His day leading up to this game is a heck of a lot different than the other guys in the locker room. You just hope as he plays more and gets more comfortable around the guys he feels a little more comfortable.”
Salazar signed with the Dynamo February 14 and has been training with the club’s U-18 squad since with reserve games and a stray training session being his only experience with the big club.
Wednesday night the youngster was thrown in with the likes of Brian Ching and Bobby Boswell. While he was trying to acclimate to his surroundings Salazar was getting plenty of on-field instructions as he tried to make an impact.
“I’m sure Bryan Salazar’s not the biggest fan of me because I’m yelling at him, but I want what’s best for him,” said Bobby Boswell. “I think he’ll go back and watch this game and learn some things like you can’t just make one run and done.”
“Learning from the guys and how they see the game makes me better,” Salazar added. “[The game] was something to get used to and get comfortable with the guys. Walking down the tunnel I was a little nervous but once I got a few touches on the ball I got more comfortable.”
While Salazar was making his debut much of Houston’s activity came from young attackers. Alex Dixon scored his first Dynamo goal since his memorable stoppage-time winner versus Real Salt Lake in August of 2011. While Dixon was scoring, Jason Johnson was doing everything but. The rookie forward had five shots on the night but his finishing touch just wasn’t there.
“I was pretty happy with some of the young guys but I’m sure it’s a learning curve,” Boswell said. “The other guys will learn you need to be in the right place because if you play better competition you’ll be punished.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com