Luis Silva will soon be a local favourite.
Toronto FC’s promising 23-year-old midfielder looks ready to ascend into the lineup as the club prepares for Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal game against the Los Angeles Galaxy (Sportsnet, 7:30 p.m. ET).
The first leg at the sold-out Rogers Centre kicks off at 8 p.m.
It’s hard for Silva to decide which contest in the two-game series should be more thrilling. On the one hand he will play in front of nearly 50,000 fans as his club takes on a star-studded Galaxy team that includes David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.
Next Wednesday’s rematch, meanwhile, will see Silva return to his home town of Los Angeles and perform in front of friends and family.
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Video: Luis Silva ahead of LA Galaxy match.
Saul and Maria Silva came to the United States from Mexico. They both held a variety of jobs. Maria worked in fast food. Saul worked as a greenskeeper.
When his parents split, Silva came under the guidance of his uncle, Lionel Villatro who encouraged his desire to play soccer. Silva earned a scholarship to the University of California Santa Barbara. Toronto FC drafted him fourth overall in January.
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"He’s just a good player. He is fine with the ball, he scored five or six goals and he didn’t even play one time 90 minutes," said teammate Danny Koevermans of Silva’s preseason. "He was amazing. I hope he can keep this going.
"I told him already, ‘if you can do that all season then next year they will sell you.’" Silva sees the second leg as a chance for a family reunion.
"My uncle will be in LA to watch. So will most of my family," said Silva. "I’m really looking forward to playing in front of them."
Silva’s is the best story of training camp. With Julian de Guzman to miss Wednesday’s game due to suspension, Silva should see action against a team he watched as a boy.
"It’s definitely going to be my biggest game of my life," Silva said. "My biggest game was in front of 15,000 people. This is going to be something like 50,000 so it’s a huge game. Hopefully I will get some minutes."