Kevin Silva is the starting goalkeeper for the US U17 national team. Kevin played in the Nike Friendlies this past December, a tournament that featured the U17 national teams from US, Portugal, Brazil, and England. Silva was awarded the Golden Glove for only giving up two goals in the tournament. I talked to Kevin about how he got into goalkeeping, what it’s like being at Bradenton, and what it was like to be on the field against a team who didn’t move for the last six minutes of the game.
How’d you introduced into playing goalkeeper?
It was probably my dad. Growing up, he would play in this league and I would usually see him in goal. I always had an interest but I didn’t play goalkeeper in little leagues. It wasn’t until after a little while I tried it and I started enjoying it a lot. And I saw that I had a little bit of natural talent for it.
And how’d you get introduced to the US youth programs?
They saw me play on my club team, PDA, and they told me about the academy. They talked about the opportunities that would be coming along because how the national team is more involved than the academy league. So they brought me in and I tried out. They liked me a lot. The ID camp in Cali, which was two and half summers ago is where it all started for me.
You started residency this last fall. What were some of the aspects that played into your decision to go down to Florida?
Just knowing how training would be. I really fell in love with the fact that we would train every day with good competition and actually work hard. I could really start to see myself improve. I talked to some guys who were here last cycle and that really helped make the decision about it too. My parents were really concerned about the school and once we found out I was going to a good school and getting a good education that eased my parents into it.
Training every day and how the players down here treat the training sessions. Back in PDA, we had very good coaches and very good sessions, but sometimes the players don’t feel like playing and the training level wasn’t so high. I’m not complaining, PDA is a great place, but I know I’ve improved a lot down in Bradenton because of the competition level. We’re all fighting for a spot and we all understand what it means to train like young pros every day.
This might not have been on your mind at all but you weren’t able to play for a high school team. Was there any regret there?
I don’t really regret it. [Playing for a high school] seemed like a really cool experience but when you look back on it, not that many players get to say that they played in the Nike Friendlies and against other countries. That was an experience that I always thought of growing up. But when the national team came along, there wasn’t much regret.
What’s something about residency that someone from the outside wouldn’t know of?
They work on every aspect of your game from mental to nutrition. It’s not all about going to school and playing soccer. It’s also about being mentally tough and eating right. Every day they’re creating a different environment for you to adapt to.
Is there anything you would change about it?
*thinks* I wouldn’t really say because they give us every opportunity to get better. It’s all in front of us and it’s all a matter if we want it or not.
You talked about the Nike Friendlies, the last game against Brazil. I’m sure you remember this but they just stood on the field for the last six minutes to end the game. [Video here] Right at the whistle y’all rushed to celebrate winning the tournament but was there any conversation at all about it? Either between yourselves, coaches, or with the other team?
[Coach] Richie [Williams] said after the game that he was really shocked what they did because it’s really… not them. Brazil wouldn’t really do that. They were really mad and didn’t believe the second red card was a red card but obviously it was. They didn’t like that we had outplayed them and they had enough. The coach even yelled from the sidelines to tell them to stop playing and just stand there. But Richie didn’t really say much about it. He said don’t juggle the ball and to just hold the ball and be professional about it.
I know you’re still a little ways from this decision but is there any sort of pressure on you now about college? Do you feel there’s pressure on you to go play abroad? Are you leaning one way or the other?
It’s tough because the age I’m now. My mom wants me to do college but my dad wants me to overseas. As of right now, if an opportunity overseas opens up I’m obviously taking that advantage but if something doesn’t work out overseas, I’ll look back at college and play there.
Last question, what’s the difference in your game now versus two years ago? So from 14 to 16, how are you different as a goalkeeper?
Physically, I’ve gotten a lot stronger and taller. Also, maturing has helped a lot. At 14, I wasn’t very brave coming off my line, command my box, or communicate as much as I do now.
Article by Bill Vegas. Visit Everybody Soccer for more about American Goalkeepers, including stats, interviews, and game reviews.