Luis Silva did not have the easiest of rookie seasons. In fact, his was down right difficult but having made it through it and found success on the playing field he is ready for bigger and better things in his second season as a professional.
in 2012, Silva had the lows of being arrested in Houston as part of that infamous night club incident. The arrest came just hours after the young midfielder had learned of the death of his father who passed away at age 52 following a stroke which he had suffered two weeks earlier. It was certainly not an easy time for the 24 year old but he worked to put it behind him.
The other two players that were involved in the night club incident did not last at the club much longer and barely saw the playing field during their remaining time. It was only Silva that was able to overcome the mistakes he made that night and that was in large part due to the fact that he is tremendously skilled and was a player that the club could not afford to lose.
His career got off to a bright start in the CONCACAF Champions League when he scored one of TFC's two goals in a 2-2 draw against the LA Galaxy at a crowded Rogers Centre. It was an impressive arrival on the scene for the 4th overall draft pick but after that he showed a lack of consistency and struggled for playing time at various times under both Aron Winter and Paul Mariner.
He wrapped up 2012 with 30 appearances in all competitions and 6 goals to his name including 4 in MLS play. It was enough for the UC Santa Barbara alum to finish fourth in Rookie of the Year voting behind Austin Berry, Nick DeLeon, and Darren Mattocks.
It was a season that Silva can be proud of as he was one of the top performers in a very poor TFC squad and was often forced to make an impact while playing out of position or receiving very little support. Now though, he is focused on having an even better 2013 no matter where the coaching staff decides to play him.
Silva made good use of his off season to recharge his batteries and come back focused for the new campaign. "What was most important was my family," said Silva, "trying to spend as much time with them since I don't see them for such a long time."
It is understandable that after a year like he had in 2012 the young man would want to enjoy some quality time with his family back in California. While home with his family he also spent sometime around his old high school. "I went out to my old high school for a few soccer sessions. Talked to the guys a little bit about what it is like to be here and in this environment."
It is a high school with a good track record of producing top talent in recent years. Last week at the SuperDraft Silva watched his friend and former high school team-mate, Carlos Alvarez, go second overall to Chivas USA. "I am so excited from him. Thought he was going to go number one for a second." The two players talked during the combine and draft and would have loved to get the chance to play together but now Silva is just looking forward to getting the chance to play against his old friend at some point this season.
Silva joked about the fact that some had suggested him as a target for Chivas USA to join their attempt to stock the team with Mexican-Americans. "From what I know they tried it their first two years and I think it went south. They are trying it again, I couldn't really say much about it. Hopefully it works out but I am just worried about Toronto FC and how we do this year." He did admit that one day he would like to get the chance to play in Mexico having grown up watching Chivas proper but for now he is fully committed to playing for Toronto and helping this team win games.
When Silva was not spending time with his family or dropping by his old school he was off in Germany training. He spent two weeks working with FSV Frankfurt, training with the team and attending a pair of matches. Practicing with the German second tier side has already proven to be valuable for Silva. "It helped me gain confidence playing in that high level knowing that I can play in that level. It helped me a lot with my confidence."
Having that confidence in himself is a key part of Silva's game. He was at his best in 2012 when he was full of confidence that showed in the way he was willing to take on defenders and work to create chances for himself and others. That confidence came in large part from the faith that the coaching staff showed in him by putting him in the lineup for key games. It was no mistake that he put in a big performance against LA and later in the season against the Vancouver Whitecaps, it was all about confidence.
If that confidence he gained while in Germany can carry over to this season TFC fans may get a real look at the potential that Silva possesses. He impressed for stretches during his rookie season but he is yet to consistently show his best. The idea that he might do that in 2013 is certainly a good reason for fans to be excited.
Silva is also excited about some of the new additions that the club has made including Kyle Bekker. "I haven't really watched him but I know he is a left footed player, he is really technical, and I think he can really help us from what I have heard from the coaching staff and players who have played with him. He is more than welcome, he is a technical player. I believe he is a smart and good player and I am looking forward to see what he can bring."
The TFC midfield was lacking in technical ability much of last season so Silva is glad to welcome another player into the club that could bring that to the side. It should help to create space for Silva on the field to have another creative player able to help fill that role when Bekker is on the field.
The other addition that Silva is excited about is the new head coach, Ryan Nelsen. He is not worried about going from having a pair of attacking coaches in Aron Winter and Paul Mariner (both played attacking positions during their careers) to having a central defender calling the shots. "It is another opportunity to learn from a different coach," said Silva. "He has played defender his whole life but you never know, he might have an attacking system. He wants to play football and that is what gets me excited for the season."
Silva also noted that the start of training camp has been promising as almost the entire squad has come in healthy and ready to hit the ground running. He noted that Danny Koevermans is still out with his knee injury but everyone else is at least training to some extent. Eric Hassli, Torsten Frings, and Logan Emory are still somewhat limited due to injuries they suffered last season but everyone else is full steam ahead.
He has certainly come a long ways from the kid who used to watch the likes of Cobi Jones and Alexi Lalas play for the LA Galaxy back at the Rose Bowl. Silva notes that the league has also come a long ways from that era of midfield shootouts, "From what I remember the league is more physical. It has gotten better in the past few years and I think it will just keep getting better and better." Hopefully the same will be the case for Silva.