SALT LAKE CITY — It was a pretty amazing rookie season for Real Salt Lake midfielder Sebastian Velasquez.
The 21-year-old went straight from Spartanburg Methodist Community College in South Carolina, where he scored 55 goals and had 33 assists in his two years at the junior college, to starting five of RSL's first seven games to begin the 2012 season. And while the stat sheet didn't give the young pro a goal, it was his cross in the season opener - a 3-1 win at LA - that forced Galaxy defender Sean Franklin into an equalizing own goal. It was something Velasquez will never forget.
"I think the day I debuted was the biggest thing I'd ever lived because first of all, before that, I was in a situation where I didn't know what I was going to do with my life and the next thing I know there I am standing in front of thousands of people as a professional," he said. "Plus, I was able to help cause a goal. It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever lived in my life."
RSL drafted Velasquez in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft, so they obviously saw that he had raw ability. But the native of Medellin, Colombia knows he still has work to do to reach his full potential.
"It was my first year as a professional, and it was a whole new world for me," he said. "Now, I feel comfortable in it. Now, I just have to keep working. I think any professional always has room to improve — to get better, to get faster, stronger, more technical. That's what I am going to be focusing on — getting better."
There is no doubt Velasquez had a favorable rookie season and will almost assuredly be involved in any future plans with Real, but for now, he has something important to take care of in the short MLS offseason.
"I'm leaving to Greenville (South Carolina) first for a couple of weeks, and then I'm heading off to Colombia, South America to see my Mom," said Velasquez. "It's going to be exciting to see her. I haven't seen her all year, and I'm coming back as a professional, so it's going to be awesome just to see her reaction."