Seemingly coming out of nowhere, Carlos Salcedo surprised fans and pundits around the league alike. Signing this first professional contact with the Claret-and-Cobalt in January 2013, the Guadalajara, Mexico native put solid performances in one after another to earn 13 appearances his rookie year. After a series of quality appearances many league pundits referred to Salcedo as a starting center-back after covering for the injured Chris Schuler the last third of the 2013 campaign.
Joining the RSL Academy in Casa Grande, Arizona in 2012, Salcedo had already had experience in the development system in his native Mexico. Poor to his relocation to the States, he went through the youth ranks at Mexican clubs Tigres UANL and Chives Guadalajara.
Beginning his professional development at his hometown club Chivas Guadalajara at the age of 14, Carlos Salcedo played alongside RSL goalkeeper Lalo Fernandez. A year later Salcedo made the move to the Tigres UNAL in northern Mexico where he spent the next four years.
Having already developed into a talented, soccer-smart youth, Salcedo's father, Carlos Salcedo Sr. - also his manager - approached his son with a new opportunity. Senior, having previous played with RSL Academy Director Martin Vasquez at Guadalajara-based Club Atlas, convinced his son to join the Claret-and-Cobalt with the understanding that would become a homegrown player for RSL. In January 2012, Salcedo joined the RSL Academy.
After seven months in the academy and even before he was an official member of the Real Salt Lake roster, Salcedo trained with first team starting in August 2012 with the understanding that he would be signed to the first team roster the next year. The hybrid defender - right fullback and center-back - would then official join the Claret-and-Cobalt having met the minimum requirement for Homegrown Players to spend at least one year in the academy system.
After making his debut in May 2013 as a substitute, Carlos Salcedo would finish the 2013 as a regular starter for the Claret-and-Cobalt starting in 12 matches by the end of the regular season. Real Salt Lake went 8-3-2 when the 6-foot-1 defender was featured. His strong performances during the 2013 also earned Salcedo his first call-up to the Mexican U-21s in 2014.
In 2014, Salcedo endured a bit of a club sophomore slump under new head coach Jeff Cassar. Struggling to find his form early in the season, Salcedo, who covered for Schuler the season before, found himself behind Aaron Maund. Still, Salcedo would regain his form of 2013 appearing in 12 matches for the Claret-and-Cobalt and even find himself his first professional goal.
Internationally, however, Carlos Salcedo excelled experiencing three spells with the Mexican National Team's youth ranks. Since being first called into the U-21 camp in April, he has made it increasingly clear that he has claimed a spot on the 2016 Olympic roster for his country. His raw talent at the club level transferred over easily as rumbling about his future potential began to surface.
At the end of November entirely different rumblings about Salcedo's future began to appear on what else than social media. Although it was not official, many people expected not to see him back in the ranks of RSL for the 2015 season. With the MLS option date looming in one week, Carlos Salcedo took to Twitter on November 24 to publish a letter to the club requesting his option not be picked up.
In particular, Salcedo criticized RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey citing "personal differences." He would go on to suggest that Lagerwey had "not kept his verbal commitments to myself or my [agent] and has not at any point been interested in resolving our differences." Alluding to possibly his lack of playing time with the club since the return of health Schuler, Salcedo bid adieu to RSL saying he's looking forward to following the club "from a distance."
The outcome has still been seemingly unresolved. With the league's lack of transparency being criticized more than ever in 2014, it remains unclear if Carlos Salcedo will remain with RSL or even within the MLS.
What we do know is that Salcedo's option was picked up for the 2015. Then the club traded away Nat Borchers which seemed like an indication that Salcedo would gain more playing time. Salcedo was also protected with RSL's additional protected roster slot during the 2014 Expansion Draft after NYCFC too Ned Grabavoy. However, RSL would then re-acquire Jamison Olave from the New York Red Bulls.
It is unclear if the club and Salcedo have reconciled or if the club is exploring trade options which still seems likely at this point. As RSL remains silent on the matter, it is clear that Salcedo has performed admirably for the Claret-and-Cobalt and he will have a bright future ahead — whether it is with this club or another is still unknown.
Editor's note: This is part of a series of player profiles recapping the 2014 season and previewing the 2015 season. Player ratings were compiled via a vote by RSL Soapbox writers. Statistics are via mlssoccer.com.