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After one year at Tigres, RSL midfielder Luis Silva out to compete for starting role

Published February 14, 2017 10:54 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The prelude to his eventual return to Real Salt Lake, Luis Silva arrived in Monterrey, Mexico, with an offer he just couldn't refuse. Playing in Liga MX was a lifelong aspiration, one he didn't necessarily shy away from voicing. It was made clear in recent years that if the opportunity came along, he'd dive in headfirst. So when the chance came, with emerging Mexican club giant Tigres UANL, there wasn't a thought of saying no.

Quickly, Silva saw the talent base and depth to one of North America's most well-rounded rosters. He was suddenly part of a group that featured several Mexican national-team staples as well as 31-year-old French star forward in André-Pierre Gignac.

"I experienced high-level play with a lot of good players, international players with their national team and I took a little bit of everything," Silva said. "On the positive side, I learned from those players. I didn't get to play as much as I wanted to just because it's one of the best teams in the Mexican league right now, if not the best team."

Minutes were hard to come by. In his one year at Tigres, Silva made two appearances. But he was part of group that won the league title on Christmas Day in dramatic fashion. Tigres scored a last-minute goal in extra time to send the match into penalty kicks, which Tigres dominated. Silva said despite the frustrations of not playing as much as he would've liked, he was able to improve by playing alongside some of the best players in Mexico on a daily basis.

Coach Ricardo Ferretti constantly gave Silva tips. "Small details," Silva explained. "Change the angle of my shot, a couple more steps to the left or right for my positioning — things I thought I knew, but being over there, I think I learned a lot."

Silva was used to starting in Major League Soccer. If not starting, being told to be the necessary impactful substitute on the night of a match. The year at Tigres not only changed the way he sees the game, but furthered his drive to get back on the field consistently. When he returned to RSL in late January on a multiyear contract, he was the latest signing which established a new, younger, more dynamic attacking core with the club.

"Anything the team needs me, I think I'm willing to do," he said. "The coach lately has been playing me in different positions. We'll see which one he likes the most. I try to play every position I can to the best of my abilities."

Silva has 20 career goals in MLS, accompanied by 13 assists. At D.C. United, he was a main attacking point for his former team and in 2014 had 11 goals and four assists before injury slowed his progress. Now back at RSL — the club acquired Silva in July 2015 in exchange for former striker Alvaro Saborio — Silva's purpose is to push for starting minutes in the midfield or out wide.

The club's attacking group is different than what it was when he arrived in 2015. Javier Morales, Sebastian Jaime and others have since moved on. Silva said the formation is slightly different from the one he came into that season, too. So far this preseason, RSL coach Jeff Cassar has deployed Silva in the No. 10 spot as well as part of the deep-lying two-man midfield position.

"I'm easy to adapt to that," he said. "I have an idea of how the coach wants to play, so we'll see how it goes."

Silva said the RSL roster is deeper than what he saw in 2015. "We have two-to-three players that can play each position," he said. Now it's up to him to rediscover his old form and play a key role in RSL's new-look attack in 2017.

"I'm ready to go out there and play and show everyone I can compete," he said.

-Chris Kamrani

Twitter: @chriskamrani




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