Changing places: DC United midfielder Luis Silva adjusting to new responsibilities this season
WASHINGTON – With so much change at D.C. United, even the few players held over from 2013 are finding themselves in new roles. Midfielder Luis Silva is among them.
Used primarily as a withdrawn forward last year – plugged in just behind former teammate Dwayne de Rosario or Conor Doyle in a 4-5-1 – Silva will play a different role in 2014, sitting in the midfield behind D.C.'s tandem of strikers, Fabián Espíndola and Eddie Johnson.
The change in position comes with added defensive responsibilities for the normally attack-minded Silva, something that may take some getting used to.
"It’s a different position and I have to adjust to it," Silva told MLSsoccer.com after training on Wednesday. "So far I’m doing well – my mind is on keeping our defense and midfield organized first.
"We’ve got two great guys up top that I can feed the ball to and rely on. I think as the season goes on I’m gonna get more comfortable with both of them being up top, as opposed to last year when I only saw one guy up there, with me being the other. I’m just looking forward to it."
The former TFC man will also likely end up interacting more frequently with United's other central presence, defensive midfielder Perry Kitchen. The relationship, like so many other things at United these days, is a work in progress.
"I’m the one that’s supposed to be up high, but there are going to be occasions in the game where he has to step up as well. I think we’re doing great at communicating and helping each other out, I'm looking forward to seeing where that goes," Silva said.
"That relationship is growing, for sure" said D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen. "There was some good stuff there. I think it's a relationship that can certainly work in this league."
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Silva was a rare offensive bright spot in 2013 for a team that scored goals at a lower rate than any other team in league history. His play – even during rough patches – displayed a flair and sense of creativity that United had badly lacked. On Wednesday, a few days removed from United's 3-0 loss to Columbus, Olsen expressed a desire to to see a bit more of that.
"I think overall the way he moved the ball for us was good," said Olsen.
"But I’d still like to see him more threatening on the attack. I’d like to see him in spots that can really hurt other teams."