Sam Salter: Montreal Player Making the Most of First Professional Minutes
Halifax, NS - - After a couple seasons of playing football outside of Canada and away from family, Samuel Salter is on home soil, playing in his first professional season for HFX Wanderers FC.
"It's been great actually. My family got to watch a couple games and have taken some trips down to come see me play. I've definitely enjoyed it for the first half of the season," says Samuel Salter.
So far, Salter has made the most of his minutes scoring two goals and adding an assist in just over 300 minutes. His second goal came late against York United on August 25, securing a point in a 1-1 draw. But it's his first that stands out the most, coming against Cavalry in a 2-1 loss.
"Obviously the first goal is always really special. That's definitely one of the biggest highlights for me this year," says the 21-year-old Salter.
A couple minor injuries have limited the young goal scorer in his first season, but so far Salter is pleased with his performances. Still, it's a team-first mentality when it comes to goals for the season.
"For us, it's to obviously make the playoffs. If I can help the team by playing and doing well, that's a bonus. For us, it's really about making the playoffs and to continue playing like we've been playing," Salter says.
Montreal to Halifax Connection
The forward is from Montreal but has Maritime connections with family nearby in New Brunswick. The draw of signing his first professional contract for a Canadian team was just one perk of joining the Wanderers. Like many current players on the Halifax side, Salter also spent time in the CF Montréal (formerly Montreal Impact) academy system. This gave him plenty of former teammates and opponents to chat with to get a sense on what life is like wearing Wanderers blue.
"Chatting with them, getting to know a little more about Halifax, that kind of drew me here.
Obviously the fans in the stadium are a massive bonus," Salter says about the Wanderers Grounds faithful.
Salter was part of the Montreal academy from 2013 through 2016. He joins Jems Geffrard, Stefan Karajovanovic, Pierre Lamothe, Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé, Alessandro Riggi, Stefan Karajovanovic and Kareem Sow ( who returned to U SPORTS in early September ) as current Wanderers players who have both played for the CPL team this season and were in the Impact system in the past. Now these players have a chance to go up against their former side in the quarterfinals of the Canadian Championship at the Wanderers Grounds.
"It's definitely really exciting, playing against a team I used to play with in the academy system. Just to play against a higher level, higher competition team is really nice as well. I'm really looking forward to it," says Salter.
While this will be the highest level of competition the Wanderers have faced in their first three seasons, the players themselves aren't putting too much pressure on themselves going up against an MLS side.
"We'll just play our game because that's all we can focus on, and obviously try to get a result. But I think approaching it just like any other game will be the strategy for us," says the attack-minded player.
Even if it's business as usual for Salter and his teammates, there's no denying their time with Montreal had an impact on their development as young athletes.
"It kind of shaped the way I am and still am as a player. Learning the stuff off the field to get you to a high level. Determination and resilience, also. Obviously you play with the best players in your category, those were the main things that shaped me to become the player I am today," says Salter.
From France to the United States
After his time in the youth academy, Salter went overseas to France in 2019, playing for the ASPTT Dijon U-19 team and also had a two-week training period with the U-19 team for RC Lens of Ligue 1. It was another opportunity for Salter to improve his game and learn while playing against high caliber players in Europe. While there, he learned about trying to prove himself as well as how to build resilience and stick to your gameplan.
Salter returned to North America after the trials, playing NCAA Division I soccer for California State University, where he had three goals and a pair of assists in 16 matches. In 2020, he played in the PremiÃ¨re ligue de soccer du Québec (PLSQ) for title-winning semi-professional club AS Blainville where he led the league in goal-scoring in a season cut short by the pandemic.
Along with football, Salter played hockey when he was younger. His father, Steve Salter, played hockey in University and was a key member of the 1990 Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus that won the national championship in the 1990. Still, Salter says it was an easy choice when it came to picking a sport to focus on when he was 11 years old.
"My friends were a big part of (the choice). A lot of my friends I played with and went to school with were playing. That's what kind of pushed me into football more," reflects Salter.
Now, while playing in front of friends and family, Salter hopes to follow the championship path blazed by his relatives as the Wanderers eye a return to the Canadian Premier League playoffs.
From what he's shown on the pitch so far, this is just the start of the journey and a bright football future.
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Samuel Salter of HFX Wanderers FC
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Canadian Premier League Stories from September 20, 2021
- Sam Salter: Montreal Player Making the Most of First Professional Minutes - HFX Wanderers FC
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