Silva is picked fourth, Garza sixth in MLS SuperDraft

UCSB’s Luis Silva became the highest drafted Gaucho in program history when he was taken by Toronto FC as the fourth overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft.

UCSB senior playmaker Luis Silva was selected as the No. 4 overall pick by Toronto FC and teammate Sam Garza was picked sixth by the San Jose Earthquakes in Thursday’s Major League Soccer SuperDraft.

Silva is the highest draft pick in UCSB program history, topping Ciaran O’Brien, who was the fifth overall selection by the Colorado Rapids in the 2008 SuperDraft. SILVA VIDEO INTERVIEW

“I’m super excited, it’s a dream come true,” Silva told MLSsoccer.com. “I’ve been looking forward to this day since I entered college.”

This is second time UCSB has had two players taken in the first round since 2008 when O’Brien went fifth and Andy Iro sixth.

Silva will join Iro and attacking midfielder Eric Avila in Toronto.


Asked what kind of player Toronto will be getting, Silva said, “Someone who will give it their all. I’m a good midfielder who likes to score, I have passing ability and I’m a winner, too.”

Silva had a monster senior season for the Gauchos, scoring 17 goals and dishing out 10 assists. He is the program’s first NSCAA first-team All-American.

The graduate of L.A. Salesian High ranks in the top-10 in nearly every category in the UCSB record book. He is tied for first in points in a season (44) and career matches played (88), third in career minutes (7,146), fourth in career points (79), tied for fourth in goals in a season (17), fifth in career shots (198), sixth in career assists (23), and tied sixth in career goals (28) and shots in a season (79).

“For me, he’s a really natural player,” Toronto FC coach and technical director Aron Winter said of Silva. “His technical skills, his movement and the way we are playing, I think he is going to be a great asset. You can use him like a (No.) 10 but you can use him also on the wings, left or right. He can make goals, he can get assists, all those things. He has a lot of technical abilities.”

Garza, who signed a Generations adidas contract after his junior season, impressed San Jose’s coaching staff is with his technical skill and pace.

“We targeted Sam right before we started [the draft],” Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop told MLSsoccer.com. “We thought he’d be there for us, so we’re happy. It was a good haul.”

Sam Garza poses with San Jose Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop, left, and GM John Doyle after being selected as the No. 6 overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft.

Garza, who transferred to UCSB from Denver as a sophomore, compiled 17 goals and 10 assists for 44 total points in his two years playing for the Gauchos. His 157 career shots rank ninth in the program’s all-time top-10. The dynamic forward garnered 2010 Big West Co-Offensive Player of the Year honors, is a two-time All-Big West First Team pick and a two-time All-Far West Region honoree. This past season, Garza was second on the squad – behind Silva – with 20 points (eight goals, four assists).

“The good thing is, I’m versatile,” said Garza, who played center forward for most of his career but was moved to a wide attacking position this past season for the Gauchos. “I think maybe at the next level, my best position will be out wide, but I love to play up top.”

“He’s very quick and very smooth on the ball,” Yallop said. “He’s a good assist guy and a good finisher when he gets in.”

Including Silva and Garza, UCSB has had 20 players drafted to the MLS, with 12 being picked up in the SuperDraft.

UCSB senior left halfback and San Marcos alum James Kiffe, who was invited and participated at the MLS Player Combine, was not taken in Thursday’s two-round draft, but he figures to be picked in Monday’s Supplemental Draft. Senior defender Tim Pontius is also a supplemental draft candidate.

Last year, the Vancouver Whitecaps made Gaucho center back Michael Boxall the No. 1 pick in the Supplemental Draft.

The expansion Montreal Impact took Duke forward Andrew Wenger as the No. 1 pick in the Super Draft. Akron forward Darren Mattocks went second to Vancouver and UCLA midfielder Kelyn Rowe was picked third by New England.

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