Will Sebastian Velasquez live up to his promise? Ever since his first time on the pitch for RSL and creating an opponent-own-goal against the LA Galaxy, Velasquez has shown he isn't scared of anything and has the talent to make it in the league.
Velasquez had a better year than his rookie year, but he had opportunities where he could have done better. There was several times when the fast, brash, no-fear Sebastian would have been able to make a huge difference in a match but it for some reason we didn't get that Sebastian every game. It's great that Sebastian wanted to improve his defense, and it was obvious that was his focus, which is probably why we didn't see him attacking as much, but we are a better team when he attacks. He more than made up for it in the playoffs, though.
He played his role as one of the first guys off the bench very well. He usually came into a game that was already well in hand and when viewing the year as a whole he had an impact in the vast majority of those games.
Velasquez averaged an assist for every three starts and scored his first goal with the first team. He could have joined Robbie Russell in scoring the Cup clinching penalty kick but it appeared he over-thought it and took it too weakly. Before you try and kill the guy, remember our DP striker (Alvaro Saborio) and the midfielder that played more minutes than anyone (Ned Grabavoy) also missed their penalties.
RSL's record overall when he was in the game day roster was 18-7-5, which is not a bad overall record. For next year we would expect more starts and minutes from Sebastian.
Velasquez will improve from just forcing his way onto the pitch and then playing to stay there. He has incredible dribbling skills, as would be expected for someone who once had a trial at FC Barcelona. He also has really good vision and seems to see attacks a half-second sooner than anyone else. He could one day be the attacking midfielder -- or at least a wide two way midfielder. It appears that he is changing things up and focusing even more for this upcoming season; let's hope he brings some real flair and fun.
RSL Soapbox writers say ...
Matt Montgomery: Sebastian Velasquez is fundamentally a different player heading into 2014 than he was heading into 2013. While the excitement about his play was more palpable after his first season, the effectiveness of it has escalated quickly. He's no longer a flair player, nor is he a luxury player. If he can continue his growth, he'll have opportunities to start consistently. But consistency, as always, is the key, and that's one he's yet to master.
Editor's note: This is part of a series of player profiles recapping the 2013 season and previewing the 2014 season. Player ratings were compiled via a vote by RSL Soapbox writers. Statistics are via mlssoccer.com.