Luis Silva has a history of scoring goals in MLS. In 2013 and 2014, he led D.C. United in scoring and had 20 goals in 98 career matches before arriving at Real Salt Lake midway through the 2015 season.
On Saturday, in his 29th match with the Claret-and-Cobalt, he notched his first goal for RSL and while it was a long-time coming for the 28-year-old forward, Head Coach Mike Petke credits Silva as an instrumental piece in RSL’s recent run of offensive form. In the last three matches, Salt Lake has scored 11 goals and gone 2-0-1 in the process. Seven of those goals came from Joao Plata, Jefferson Savarino and Albert Rusnák. And while the dynamic attacking prowess of that trio is not to be downplayed, neither is the contribution of Silva to their creativity in the attack.
“To me it wasn’t about the goals with Luis. I knew a goal or two would come and hopefully more come. His combination play with Jefferson, Joao and Albert is big and vital for us,” Petke said after training on Tuesday. “In his movement and his creativity he opens up so many gaps for us. I’m glad that he’s getting the goals, but he’s also had his hand in a number of goals this year directly or in his movement drawing players out. It’s not about the goals with Luis. I’m confident he’ll get more. It’s more about his link-up play.”
Silva has made himself a viable candidate to start in Petke’s lineup through that attacking cohesion. In his last five starts, he has averaged 37 touches per 90 minutes, completed 77 percent of his passes and earned his first goal of the season. In addition, he also scored an early goal in a friendly against Manchester United, a sure confidence booster to get him on track in the offensive third.
Playing as the lone striker has been a change for Silva, who spent much of his time in his previous stint with RSL and D.C. United as a central midfielder or wide forward. However, his play on the ball has been key to creating space in the attack. While Petke credits Silva for helping create opportunities for his teammates, Silva points to his supporting attackers for giving him the space and confidence.
" I think that my teammates help a lot with their movement and making runs in behind as well so then you get the center backs thinking if they should step with me or drop back,” he said. “It’s the combination of everyone playing well."
Although he has done his part to help his team win, forwards are ultimately judged by their goal totals. Getting his first of the season was a great step for Silva as RSL continues to round into form as it approaches the final third of the season schedule.
"It’s a good feeling I knew it was going to come eventually, I was just trying not to get frustrated because I had other chances in past games and it’s a good feeling,” Silva said after the match on Saturday. “Hopefully I can help out the team and keep scoring."