Babyfett turns out to be a blessing for Toronto FC’s Silva and moves to goalkeeper

TORONTO – Kevin Silva can thank teenage baby fat for a step that helped make soccer a career.

“I actually grew up as a striker,” he explained. “I was a little chubby growing up so the next person to go in is always the chubby guy when one of our goalkeepers went down.

“I played the game, I really enjoyed it. From then on I thought: ‘Yes, I’ll be a goalkeeper.’ It turned out to be a small blessing. “

Silva was then 12 or 13 years old. Today, the 22-year-old from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is six feet tall, weighs just 150 pounds and is Toronto FC’s third goalkeeper.

He hasn’t forgotten his forward skills on the ball.

“I would say it’s a great strength in my game,” he said. “When I grew up and played on the (outside) field for a while, I felt comfortable with the ball at my feet. And growing up at my old PDA (Players Development Academy in Somerset, NJ), my coach (Tyler Stakiwicz, now assistant at Rutgers University) was really aware of what was going on in the new goalkeeping era, and wanted Make sure to incorporate that into the new goalkeeping era my game pretty early as soon as I got there.

“I think it was something that helped me a lot. I really appreciate it. I didn’t really understand why he wanted that from me at that age. But it helped me and it paid off. It’s something I enjoy. I enjoy having the ball at my feet. I understand that there is only one extra player on the field for the team. “

After loaning part of 2019 from Scotland’s Hearts to Toronto FC 2, Silva made a permanent move to TFC’s reserve team in January before signing a first-team contract ahead of the MLS back tournament in Florida in July.

Toronto coach Greg Vanney, while acknowledging the role of the third “keeper,” especially given COVID-19 is limiting opportunities in lower leagues, says Silva has bowed her head, kept working and improved.

“He’s doing great … He’s an ideal third goalkeeper right now because he’s young and developing,” said Vanney. “He has similar qualities to Q (starter Quentin Westberg). He’s not the greatest goalkeeper (but) he has really good feet.

“He’s very competent, almost like an outfield player,” he added. “So that was nice… And he’s a really good communicator. Feels secure in communication and leadership. And he’s a good goalkeeper. There are things (goalkeeping coach) Jon Conway and the goalkeeping crew are working on to develop him. But he’s a really good guy, a really hard worker, and he fits in really well with our group. “

Prior to joining Toronto FC II, Silva made five appearances for the Heart of Midlothian FC reserve team in 2018 and was later loaned to Raith Rovers FC from the Scottish Third Division.

Silva played collegially at UCLA and played in 30 games with seven goals conceded in two seasons. He then switched to Rutgers but never saw anything. He moved to Scotland where he spent about 18 months.

“I would say it was a good experience,” he said. “It was my first professional environment – good coaching team, great players. It was a good experience to see what a day was like for me in a professional environment … I think it helped me to mature as a player and as a person. “

Silva was part of the US youth setup, from U14 to U19.

Despite restrictions due to the pandemic, Silva says he is enjoying his time as a Toronto FC player. He believes the MLS team’s style of play suits his skills better. And he learns through training alongside Westberg and Alex Bono.

“They push me every day and really help me focus on little things that I need to correct. Training with them and learning from them was really fun … I am really blessed to be part of this group. “

Silva is number 90, a number he was given when he moved to TFC 2. He had hoped to get the number 99 with the first team but striker Ifunanyachi Achara beat him.

“I’ll make it my number,” he said of # 90.

Silva and Toronto FC returned to their pandemic home in East Hartford, Connecticut on Wednesday after a few days at home. Toronto “hosts” the Philadelphia Union in an 8-2-4 club bout at Pratt & Whitney Stadium on Rentschler Field on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 30, 2020

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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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