Marcelo Silva got his first taste of the Rio Tinto Stadium crowd against Manchester United, but Saturday night it was the real thing. Real Salt Lake’s newest acquisition made his debut in the club’s 1-1 draw against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday in a match that offered an inside look into the highs and lows of Major League Soccer.
The 28-year-old Uruguayan showed glimpses of the potential that first caught the attention of GM Craig Waibel and his staff. He combines physicality with agility. He’s organized and tough in the tackle.
Through it all, RSL Head Coach Mike Petke sees a solid addition to the defensive core, but may take some time to adjust to his new surroundings in MLS.
“Marcelo is everything we want him to be. I dealt with as a player for thirteen years as a coach now for three years players coming over from a different league and the game is officiated differently. That’s the standard how much you can get in aggressively,” Petke said. “It’s going to take a little while.”
Partnering alongside Justen Glad and shielded by Luke Mulholland and Sunny, the RSL defense kept Sporting frustrated. Together, they kept the visitors from storming the gates as Kansas City managed only three shots on goal in the match.
His center back partner was optimistic about the pairing, but eager to put in more work.
“I think as the season goes on we are going to get even more comfortable I thought he played well tonight,” Glad said. “He is a big strong guy, and he made his presence well.”
In addition to the defensive prowess, he also nearly made his debut memorable with a goal on the offensive side.
The center back ventured forward on a free kick in the first half, rising above Kevin Ellis and smashing the ball into the ground and off the post. Silva recovered the rebound, but KC cleared the follow-up effort.
It wasn’t all positive for Silva, though.
In the 57th minute, the former La Liga defender clattered into Benny Feilhaber on a run into the box. The referee awarded a penalty and Feilhaber converted at the spot.
Like his coach, he was able to see past a few mistakes to take his debut as a positive step.
“The sensation has been great. I felt very good. My teammates looked great and we have done a great job,” Silva said through a translator. “We’ll go with a bitter taste knowing that we could have gotten the three points but it couldn’t be done.”
After a frenzied first week, Silva will have an opportunity to catch his breath before RSL’s next match on July 29 against Columbus Crew SC.