Silva's contract with Real Zaragoza, a Spanish second-division team, expired after this past season. Per FIFA regulations, the 28-year-old will not be able to appear in an RSL match until his International Transfer Certificate is cleared during the MLS transfer window that opens Saturday. That means he will not be available for Tuesday's match in Los Angeles.
Silva said he had other options in Spain and around Europe.
"The reason why I decided to choose MLS and this club," Silva said through a translator, "was because I believe it's an opportunity for me as a player where I can grow and be able to contribute and perform well."
Silva spent time on the Uruguayan U-20 national team early in his career, which spanned the country's 2009 appearance in the U-20 World Cup. He has played much of his professional career in Spain, with experience in both La Liga and La Liga 2.
"He reads the game very well," RSL coach Mike Petke said. "He's extremely athletic, good in the air and he's a leader, and very good with the ball at his feet as well. Put all that together, and that's pretty much all the intangibles we're looking for in a center back."
Waibel openly has been trying to sign a center back for a year and a half now, although the rise of several talented homegrown defenders lessened the urgency to do so.
RSL got close in other deals, Waibel said, including one with Ghanaian center back Jerry Akaminko. He joined RSL in preseason on a trial basis last year.
As for Silva, it took Waibel and RSL scout Dane Murphy's trip to Madrid for the team to land him.
"We literally flew over to meet with him not too long ago and sat with him for 3.5, 4 hours, with he and his agent," Waibel said. "By the end of that meeting, we all agreed that from a personality perspective we felt right character, right type of person we want in the club.
"And thankfully he must have thought the same about us because within just a couple days we were already talking about how to finalize the contract."
RSL has an open international roster spot that Silva will fill, and the team will not have to make further roster moves to add him.
The 6-foot-2 defender is set to join a back line that, between injuries and call-ups, has seen its share of changes throughout the season.
"What stood out in Marcelo is the way we want to play," Waibel said. "We want to keep the ball, we want to actually build out of the back, but we also want to have a physical presence. And that's what Marcelo will allow us to continue to do."
Real Salt Lake at L.A. Galaxy
P Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. MDT
TV • KMYU