Johnson-Silva partnership key as TFC look to keep rolling
TORONTO – Ryan Johnson and Luis Silva have been saviors of sorts for Toronto FC since Danny Koevermans went down with a season-ending injury on July 14.
Johnson has scored two goals and Silva has scored a goal with four assists in two league games and one CONCACAF Champions League match, keeping TFC productive on the offensive end.
“Luis is quality all the time,” Johnson said of the rookie. “He’s getting really consistent and he’s scoring a lot of different kinds of goals.”
French striker Eric Hassli, who has been out with an ankle injury since being acquired from Vancouver two weeks ago, will eventually be introduced to the lineup.
His debut could come Saturday in Chicago against the Fire (8:30 p.m. ET, watch LIVE online), but meanwhile, the Johnson-Silva pairing has worked surprisingly well.
Johnson, a 27-year Jamaican international, said he enjoys playing with the 23-year-old Silva, who was Toronto’s first pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.
WATCH: Silva on his new role at TFC
“He’s showing a lot of what he can do,” Johnson said, “so I’m happy to see Luis performing at his best.”
Silva had a goal and two assists against El Salvador’s CD Águila on Wednesday in the opening game of the CCL group stage. Johnson had a goal and started the play that resulted in Silva’s goal that opened the scoring.
The Reds (5-12-4) are hoping the CCL win can give them momentum against the Fire (9-7-5), who are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, five slots above them.
Silva is a central midfielder, although he has also played on the right side of midfield.
“It’s a good partnership between Luis and myself when it comes to a lot of combinations,” Johnson said. “He’s very good with the ball at his feet. So it’s always exciting to play with him because he’s going to find your feet a lot and he’s going to look to combine with you because that’s the kind of game he likes to play.”
Added TFC head coach Paul Mariner after Wednesday’s win: “Luis is as smooth as silk on a ball. He’s got a great first touch, which gets him immediate respect from the opposition.”
Against Chicago, Johnson said it’s a matter of playing more like they did against Águila in order for TFC to rebound in league play from their recent 2-0 loss to Houston.
“We just moved the ball quickly and found each other’s feet compared to the last game when we resorted to the long ball a lot, and that’s not our game at times,” Johnson said. “We need to slow the game, play the feet, try to combine when we can and go forward when we have the opportunity.”