TORONTO – Toronto FC rookie midfielder Luis Silva didn’t just keep his head in his first professional game last Wednesday. He also got the chance to use it a bit, nodding home the contest’s second goal against his hometown team, the LA Galaxy, in the sides’ 2-2 CCL quarterfinal first-leg draw.
The 23-year-old midfielder from Los Angeles said he was able to stay focused despite the noise of the crowd of nearly 48,000 at Rogers Centre, not to mention the lustre of the team lining up across the pitch.
“It starts with the coach and then my teammates,” Silva said of his performance. “They give me confidence to be able to do that. We really rotate a lot and that creates a lot of space for me and I just try to find those little gaps. You don’t always get the ball, but at least you’re making the right runs and the coach notices that.”
Silva scored Toronto’s second goal by slipping behind center back Andrew Boyens and heading Torsten Frings’ long diagonal ball into the bottom right corner.
“It definitely was an emotional moment, something I’ve been dreaming of and there it was,” Silva said.
During the preseason and in his professional debut, Silva has shown the poise of a veteran to go with the skills that seem to blend nicely with TFC’s style. Head coach and technical director Aron Winter demands creativity and poise from the midfield, and that’s what Silva has shown.
He has been everything the Reds could have asked for after they selected him with the fourth-overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft in January.
Silva has also – unfortunately – gotten quickly accustomed to heartbreak, something that’s gone hand-in-hand with TFC throughout the club’s five-year existence. The Reds coughed up an 88th-minute equalizer to LA, after all, denying them a famous win.
But the rookie is sanguine.
“We were just unlucky at the end on the corner kick [that led to Landon Donovan’s equalizer],” Silva said Friday.
Now the rookie goes home for the second leg at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on Wednesday (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer). A win would put the Reds through to the semifinals.
And just as in his debut, there will be a lot going on for Silva. Facing the team he followed as a child, playing in front of friends and family and trying for the win that would see TFC into the semis – it all adds up.
“I tried not to think about it too much, just calmed my nerves down and tried to get focused for the game,” Silva said of the first leg.
If he can do the same for the second, Silva has a chance undo some of that heartbreak, and start a new chapter for TFC.