Hat-trick hero Luis Silva reflects on DC United's rise in East: "To be in first place is a blessing"

D.C. United midfielder Luis Silva was one of the few bright spots in United’s 2013 squad, coming in midseason and promptly wrapping his hands around the team lead for goals – at three.

On Wednesday evening in Montreal, it took the previously goalless Silva just 45 minutes to equal that 2013 total. He used a first-time strike in the sixth minute, a 25-yard curler in the 39th and a stoppage-time penalty kick to net a first-half hat trick, the first of his professional career, in a 4-2 win over the Impact at Stade Saputo.

This season has been a bit of a mixed bag for Silva. The 25-year-old showed promise early on, adapting well to his new role as an attacking midfielder and putting in a string of solid performances before an early-April ankle injury put the brakes on his progress.

“I think I had my spot at the beginning of the season, and it was obviously unfortunate that I got hurt,” Silva told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the victory. "For me, it was good to get this second start [after returning from injury] and it feels amazing to be able to score and help my teammates get to first place."

In Montreal, Silva was slotted in up top, filling in for an injured Eddie Johnson. Though still regaining his fitness, he looked active and seemed right at home alongside strike partner Fabian Espindola, the two forwards feeding off of each other during a series of first-half interchanges.

“I mean I think it was a tense first half,” said Silva. "Obviously we went up and then Montreal pulled one back, but we never gave up, we kept our heads up. I thought we possessed the ball really well in the second half and obviously Andrew [Dykstra's] save on the PK was huge as well."

Silva is one of a handful of players who survived United’s massive offseason roster overhaul, which gives him a unique perspective on his side’s dramatic 2014 turnaround.

"We had high expectations coming into the season,” Silva reflected. “To be in first place is a blessing, I think. Obviously, everybody is excited – especially after last year, when we were in last place. There were times last year when you’d walk into the locker room and you could just see the guys were down.

"This year it’s the opposite. Everybody is helping each other out, everybody is staying positive. We just gotta keep pushing forward and keep this going."