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Toronto FC Top 31 Countdown: Number 4 - Luis Silva

TFC's first round draft pick, though apparently not Paul Mariner's choice -- and also part of the TFC 3 in Houston, but who's counting? Coming in at #4 in our Top 31, it's rookie Luis Silva.

"Hey Mariner, can I have some more?"
"Hey Mariner, can I have some more?"
Jamie Squire

Average Ranking: 4.81
Highest Ranking: 1
Lowest Ranking: 9

John: 1 I'm sure fans of literature will know the story of Oliver Twist: the tale of that infamous orphan of English literature that some of us were forced to endure in high school. Well, I think it's almost safe to say that Twist's tale of woe has some connections to the fledgling career of one Luis Silva, the protagonist of this story.

Drafted by Aron Winter, the young lad from Los Angeles had his "Please sir, may I have some more?" moment as a pro when, thrust into the glare of the Skydome lights for his debut, he doubled TFC's lead in the 17th minute of the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final -- that lead may have dissipated shortly in the second half, but by that time the crowd had fallen in love, and hailed him as a hero.

It would be a while before he would score again, given TFC's penchant for staying off the ball and conceding possession. But he would once again be in the money in the Reds' lone league meeting against Vancouver, where he helped to secure a 3-2 victory with his first MLS goal. It was a long time coming, and heartening for supporters to see as the team seemed to have firmly put that 0-9 start behind them. An eighth-minute goal against the New England Revolution in the next game further cemented his place in the supporters' hearts.

But as the season went on, and Aron Winter was removed (or resigned depending on your views) from his post, it was rather obvious that the Fagin of our story, AKA Paul Mariner, would play into our story. It was he who made it very clear that Silva wasn't his first choice, rather it was the kindness of Mr Sowerberry that allowed Silva into the Red house. And like Eric Avila, Silva was treated like Mrs Sowerberry treated Oliver: with disdain and a lot of benchings. His standing within the team wasn`t aided as one of the infamous TFC 3 who were arrested for public intoxication in Houston. Although that hasn't changed many views of him in the long term -- being given the ``he is still a kid after all`` pass.

Injuries to others eventually got him back into the first team, and when he did get his chances, the Reds were simply not good enough to allow him to shine. Granted some of those missed chances were of his own making: firing high and wide. Although he wasn't as egregious with his misses, he had his share of them -- and was as guilty as many of TFC's strikers in not converting chances. But then again, what were you expecting from a rookie? However, for a rookie, he shows promise that some of our other draftees have failed to show. But again, with heightened expectations come added pressure, and for Silva, it was too much, too soon.

In a season that has been plagued with nothing but bad news and other such joys, Silva has proven himself to be someone who TFC can build around in the front. He is the bright light that will shine brightly in Toronto for many years, if like Twist, he is allowed to do his thing -- his upcoming loan stint in Germany can only help in increasing his knowledge and skill level. But if Fagin Mariner is allowed to carry out his machinations, we may once again risk an unhappy ending to this story.

Duncan: 5 Seemed like a decent draft pick, though the non GA status was a bit puzzling. Had a great pre season, those games in Orlando he really showed off his lethal finishing touch, suggesting that he could be the answer in the attacking midfield spot at the top of the 4-3-3's point forward midfield triangle, more creative than Johnson, more prolific than Avila. He reinforced that opinion with the very well taken header against L.A in the CCL. Despite that he was in and out of the lineup under Aron Winter, never really seeming to get going, then his season hit a nadir with the death of his Father, followed shortly by his arrest in Houston.

Despite reports that Paul Mariner didn't want to use the 4th pick on him, and despite Mariner not really employing that traditional number 10 'in the hole behind the strikers' role that Silva seems well suited to, he's definitely one of the players who did better under the Englishman, getting more time than was probably the plan due to injuries. He saw time at forward and developed a very good partnership with Eric Hassli when Hassli actually played, ended the season with 5 goals, and got some consideration for rookie of the year, coming closer than any other TFC player did for any of the end of season awards.

He's currently in Germany for a short training stint with Frankfurt, which should help develop his game a bit. Barring a trade he'll be back next year and could well play a big part in what will hopefully be a much improved team around him. Drafting him was definitely one of the decisions Aron Winter got right.

Dave: 2 The rookie was a player from whom I expected big things going into the season but even my expectations were exceeded by his performance in 2012. He managed to pick up some nice statistical totals but the most impressive part is that he managed to do so well despite a rotating cast of attackers playing around him all year.

Michael: 5 Promising player

Kristin: 6 Great future ahead. Lovely touch but asked to do too much this year.

The Yorkies: Decent rookie year. Oh, by the way Luis - your manager didn't want to draft you. Just a heads up.

The Ghost Of TFC Future: A rare bright spot in a dark and dreary year. Had a tendency to disappear for portions of games, but I guess it's easy to miss him when the entire team doesn't have the ball for long stretches of the game.

If we don't do something like trade him for the first pick in the Supplemental Draft, we could have a very useful player on our hands.

Jon Spratt: The brightest light of hope that TFC has going forward.

Casual Soccer Fan: Looking for even better things next year.

DichioTFC: Luis Silva will be a star in this league. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind about this. With the right development, proper opportunities and better teammates, Silva will become a face of the league. It should be noted that even in spite of the his arrest with Soolsma and Aceval for public intoxication, Mariner didn't cut or trade Silva. While Mariner's ability is currently in question, this proved Mariner's not an idiot.

Silva has a great touch, can make killer passes and has the pace to beat most defenders. His 5 goals and 5 assists exceeded even the biggest optimists' predictions. The 4th pick overall in the 2011 draft quickly won many fans over, scoring on his debut in the biggest match in TFC history at Rogers' Centre. The benefit of having a season with many disappointments is for young players like Silva to have the opportunity to learn. Some rookies like Maund and Emory seemed overwhelmed when on the pitch, but Silva was often the opposite. A man among boys, Silva demonstrates the value of having natural talent.

There is much for Silva to improve, but his ceiling is sky high and with the young team, the opportunity is there for 23 year old Silva to claim a leadership role with the other 'kids' at the club (19 year old Doneil Henry, 21 year old Ashtone Morgan, 24 year old Eric Avila, 21 year old Reggie Lambe and 23 year old Richard Eckersley). Learning from Torsten Frings can only inspire Silva to get better. Many eyes will be on Silva in 2013, and if TFC is to make any run at the playoffs, Silva will have some role as the architect.

Shem: If played in a good team he would have been rookie of the year nominee. Lot's of promise though.

Prizby: The fourth overall pick, who debuted with a wonderfully headed goal in the first leg of the CCL quarter finals against LA, Silva was a member of the Jailgate three, the only one to survive the season with TFC. Having gone through the emotional struggle early on with the loss of his father, Silva showed he had the ability to learn on the job and he provided TFC with five goals and five assists, which should set him up to have a breakout sophomore season and maybe see a January call-up to the #USMNT.

MCB: showed great potential in second half

Sir Alphonso Applegate: A bright spot in this year's darkness. Silva showed lots of skill and an ability to score. Hopefully a piece to build around.

Shel Soze: Everything you want out of 1st round pick. Our only bright spot for the future. Should be a forward

JC_Plante: A solid rookie campaign, would have shined on a better team.

Panos Kelamis: Other than that one night with tequila in Houston, Silva is TFC's best young player. Probably played more than he should have this year, but with time and development, could become a standout in TFC's midfield.

Number 3: Richard Eckersley

Number 5: Torsten Frings

Full Top 31 Countdown