In the lead up to the SuperDraft Luis Silva was not one of the players who I gave a ton of attention, mainly due to the fact that he did not come with a Generation Adidas contract, but he was still on my radar. Silva represents one of the most talented attacking midfielders in a draft class that was very deep in that position.
Silva comes to Toronto from University of California Santa Barbara where he played for the past 4 seasons and by going 4th overall he is actually the highest SuperDraft pick in his school's history. The California native is considered by most scouts to be MLS ready and should be able to contribute right away. In fact, with Eric Avila still ineligible to play in CONCACAF Champions League games Silva could very well get his first start for the club on March 7th against the Galaxy.
Silva should help to fill the hole that was left behind by Dwayne De Rosario's departure early last season and provide a strong link between the likes of Julian De Guzman, Torsten Frings, and the attackers. On top of that, Silva represents another quality scoring threat in the attack as he chipped in his fair share of goals for UCSB. Add to that the fact that he has the vision to pick out through balls and he really should be a good fit in Aron Winter's tactics and formation.
With Avila already on the roster there will not be that much pressure on Silva to step right in and contribute, but with no other natural attacking midfielders on the roster now there will certainly be plenty of minutes available for him. While many midfielders struggle to make the transition from NCAA play to MLS level most scouts feel that will not be the case with Silva. He has the size (5-11, 165 pounds) and the strength needed to hold his own in the most physical areas of the field which should allow him to settle in to the centre of the park quite easily.
What Luis Silva did in his senior year at UCSB was impressive to say the very least. His first three seasons at UCSB were solid as he set a number of different school records, mainly for minutes played, but it was not until this past year that he really showed he had the skill set to take his game to the next level. In his senior year Silva scored 17 goals to go along with an equally impressive 10 assists. That kind of point production had him ranked among NCAA leaders for the past season and saw him move up a lot of people's draft boards.
During the draft today Toronto FC officials confirmed that Silva had been their guy all along and it only took Aron Winter a short time looking at him during the combine to ensure this was the right choice. It was clear that Silva impressed at the Combine where he led all players in creating chances for his teammates. He showed all the skills that made him a standout at UCSB with good vision, shooting ability, and strength on the ball.
The basic scouting report on Silva would suggest that he has solid pace for a player his size, should be able to bulk up fairly easily in time for the season, has good vision and passing ability, can use both feet but is more comfortable on his right foot, and is very motivated. He was rated by most scouts as one of the best attacking midfield options and in many cases the most MLS ready player of the bunch. Unlike Rowe or Martinez he should be ready to make an impact right away as at 23 years old he is quite physically mature and has the experience to make a smooth transition.
So what can we expect from Silva at Toronto FC? I would say we can expect him to slot in to a similar role to where we saw Avila down the stretch last season. That central role of the midfield will most likely see him relied on to be more of a play-maker then a goal scorer. It is a role that should suit the 23 year old as he has all the skills to be a top play-maker. That role should still allow him the chance to score the odd goal, like Avila has, but the pressure will not be on him to do the majority of the goal scoring. Instead his main join will likely be to provide good service to the 3 forwards that Winter loves to employ. The main target will be Danny Koevermans who should benefit from having another strong play-maker on the team with the vision to send him through on goal. That relationship should be good for both players though as I highly doubt that Silva has ever played with a forward that has Koef's ability to find space and make dangerous runs.
On the whole I would say that going with Silva is a very good pick. He may very well have been the best of the AM bunch and will certainly fit in to the 4-3-3 that TFC plays. The only real knock that I can find on this pick is the fact that he is not under a Generation Adidas contract like Rowe and Martinez were, which means he will likely take up more of the clubs limited cap space. At this stage, we have to trust that if they chose to pass up on all the available GA talent the club must feel they have the room to make the signings that they sill require to round out the roster.
To wrap it up here is his first interview with the Toronto media, Sportsnet Gerry Dobson asking some good questions of Silva: