2017 saw Luis Silva return to Real Salt Lake, and he spent more time as the center forward than anyone would have guessed.
Silva first came to RSL in 2015 when Alvaro Saborio, RSL’s all-time leading goal scorer, was traded to DC United. His first season with the club resulted in no goals in his ten games played. At the end of 2015, Luis headed for Tigres. He didn’t see any playing time in 2016-17 season in Liga MX and returned to Real.
It’s hard to discuss Silva’s season without taking about Yura Movsisyan. To summarize the Yura saga, he was the big money center forward who underperformed and saw surprisingly few minutes. With backup striker Chad Barrett only playing three games before going out with a season ending injury, Silva started to see time as the center forward. He had played in the midfield earlier in the year, but eventually saw time at the center forward in RSL’s 4-3-3 formation.
As a player, Silva brought a lot of hustle that simply isn’t a part of Yura’s game. He would often sit a little deeper than a traditional number 9, but this worked well with Plata and Savarino playing high up the wings. He helped to draw out defenders and open space. Silva ended the season with 7 goals, tied for first alongside Rusnak, Plata, and Movsisyan.
It’s hard to know what to think of his season. He came in and did a job when needed. He also scored RSL’s only goal when hosting Manchester United in a friendly, a fun highlight of the year. Silva felt like an outlet hope when Yura’s performance and attitude were lacking. His 7 goals and 3 assists don’t make him one of the more productive strikers of the year. His goals per minute isn’t terrible, but not what you would want from a big money forward (which he is not).
It’d difficult to say what 2018 will hold for Silva, but since he is on RSL’s protected list for the expansion draft, it’s safe to say he factors into the plans. He’s a player that works hard, is versatile, and seems to be like by head coach Mike Petke. It might not be the best plan to hang all of next season’s goal scoring hopes on Silva alone, but he’s capable for more than the throwing of a good snowball should the occasion arise.