TORONTO – Scoring your first professional goal is a memorable experience. But for Toronto FC's Luis Silva, who accomplished the feat in Wednesday's 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps, it will always have a little extra meaning.
The 23-year-old rookie, whose nifty side-footed deflection from an Ashtone Morgan cross knotted the score at one apiece in the 68th minute, looked and pointed to the sky in honor of his father, Saul Silva Segui, who passed away less than a month ago at the age of 52.
"I've been through a rough three weeks," Silva said. "Obviously this goal is dedicated to my dad."
During TFC's break from action in early June, Silva traveled home to Los Angeles to be with his family after his father suffered a stroke. Silva rejoined the team before their June 16 road matchup against Sporting Kansas City, Paul Mariner's first as Reds head coach. Before the club played their next game, away to the Houston Dynamo, Silva's father died without ever regaining consciousness.
Wednesday's match marked the UC Santa Barbara product's first start since May 26, a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Union, and he took the field with the letters "SSS" – his father's initials – written on his boots.
"I don't want to dig old stuff up but he was hurt by what happened, and he wants to do well," Mariner said of Silva. "I thought playing on the right hand side of midfield [Wednesday], which he has never really played – he has always played underneath or in the center – I thought he was excellent."
In the seven games between his starts, Silva featured as a sub five times. The fourth overall selection in January's MLS SuperDraft has six starts in 14 games this season though his goal on Wednesday was his first point of the season.
"Well, we've had some ups and downs to say the least and I've known Luis for a long, long time since when he was at UCSB, so we tracked him," Mariner said. "He comes from a wonderful family, he is a wonderful young man, tremendous talent. We were obviously very high on him in the draft."
Those hopes in the young midfielder have finally begun to pay off for Toronto. And maybe after these rough three weeks, things have finally turned around for Silva, as well.
"The most important thing is the coach gave me that confidence," Silva told reporters after Wednesday's game. "He believed in me. He gave me that and I had to take advantage of that."