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LAFC 2018 Player Postmortem: Danilo Silva

Veteran Brazilian stepped in as immediate starter.

MLS: New England Revolution at Los Angeles FC Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Danilo Silva was signed by Los Angeles Football Club at the start of August, towards the end of the summer transfer window. The veteran Brazilian had a cup of coffee in MLS already, with the MetroStars under Bob Bradley way back in 2005, and LAFC needed to bolster their center back corps for the homestretch of the debut season.

Silva came in on loan from Internacional, where he had reportedly been injured a fair amount of the time after returning home following a very successful stint in Ukraine, playing for Dynamo Kyiv from 2010-17. He was so comfortable there that he was willing to become a Ukraine international if given a chance, but that call never came, and eventually he went back to Brazil before moving stateside to LAFC.

We may never know if Silva was signed with the original intention of giving LAFC more central defensive options or if he was essentially brought in to be Laurent Ciman’s replacement, but the latter is what happened, as Ciman was sold to Dijon later in the month and LAFC’s small center backs corps was back down to three pure CBs: Silva, Walker Zimmerman and Dejan Jakovic.

So Silva slotted in to be a starter pretty much right away, and he ended up playing 11 games between regular season and playoffs for LAFC.

Silva LAFC 2018 statistics

2018 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2018 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
MLS Regular Season 10 9 722 0 0 3 1 2 0
U.S. Open Cup 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MLS Playoffs 1 1 90 1 0 1 1 0 0
Total 11 10 812 1 0 4 2 2 0

It felt like Silva was hurt a lot even in his brief time at LAFC, and while he forced an early sub in an El Trafico match due to injury, in the end he only missed three games after arriving. It’s a small sample size, but “injury prone” may be a bit unfair of Silva’s LAFC tenure when looking at the actual numbers.

As for how Silva played, it was a mix of good and bad. In the pro column, he brought composure to the back and was steady. He was also capable of passing well out of the back, and he settled in instantly to his new surroundings. While Zimmerman drew headlines with his scoring run to end the season, there were games where it sure seemed like Silva was the top defender for the black-and-gold.

But on the other hand, the then-31 year old wasn’t fast, and LAFC could be absolutely torched in transition, and they frequently were. They had a 4-4-3 record when he played, and while he didn’t come flying out to suss out turnovers like Ciman and Zimmerman did in their high-risk style, Silva’s approach maybe wasn’t as revolutionary in hindsight, when looking at the team’s defensive performance.

And while it’s not fair to blame LAFC’s defensive frailties on Silva — the team played with an attacking style that did not offer traditional support to the back line and goalkeeper — his final game was a flashpoint of sorts.

LAFC were blown away by lowest seed Real Salt Lake, at The Banc in the expansion team’s first-ever playoff game. Bradley’s team was thoroughly outplayed by Mike Petke’s, but the tone was set by Silva making a hail mary jump to try and intercept a looping cross. He missed, and Damir Kreilach gave RSL the lead when he received the ball, in the box, with tons of time to shoot.

Bradley, who rarely called out players by name for poor performances, reserved criticism of Silva for this mistake immediately after the loss.

“We make a big mistake on the first goal. Literally, a cross from the touchline, it’s a ball that Danilo should see in flight, and deal with. So, a big mistake.”

That mistake, and the loss itself, overshadowed Silva’s first goal in MLS, to cancel out that debut goal in the game.

So, with all that in mind, will Silva be back? LAFC declined the purchase option on his loan deal, and that coupled with Bradley’s comments about the fatal mistake in the playoff match means there’s a decent chance his time with the club is over.

However, Kevin Baxter did report in the Los Angeles Times last month that the team is “especially interested” in bringing Silva back among the LAFC players out of contract or with declined options. Sam Stejskal reported in, however, that with Silva under contract for “several more years” at Internacional, so a return is far from guaranteed.

Is Silva MLS starter-caliber? Sure seems like it. Is he perfect? No, that risk of injury seems persistent, even if he did play a large number of minutes in his time with LAFC this year, and he’s probably not MLS Best XI caliber at this point in his career. But with center back being the single biggest problem spot for LAFC this offseason, Silva could come back to establish some continuity, or he could be done with the club looking to turn the page and look to upgrade elsewhere. We’ll have to see what happens on that front.

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