The first time Danilo Silva played for Bob Bradley, he was a skinny teenager with a ton of promise but just a few ounces of experience. Bradley, meanwhile, was in the early stages of a coaching journey that would take him to 10 teams in five countries.
So when player and manager reunited earlier this month with the Los Angeles Football Club, it was obvious both had grown.
“As a person, he’s incredible,” Silva, speaking in Spanish, said of Bradley. “He was a good coach. But with the experience he’s gained, he’s become that much better.”
Bradley returned the compliment when asked about the Brazilian defender, whom he last worked with 13 years ago.
“What I see is the same guy but experienced, mature, [a] family man,” said Bradley, whose team goes for its second win in five days when it meets the Colorado Rapids on Sunday at Banc of California Stadium. “It’s always a proud moment when you know someone when they’re younger. And then a period of time goes by and you see that same person 10 or 15 years later and you see how much they’re grown.”
The midsummer reunion has worked out for both men in ways that go beyond simply measuring how each has changed.
Silva, on the wrong side of 30, needed a place to play after being used only sparingly at Brazilian club Internacional. And Bradley needed defensive help at LAFC where, after losing four times in the season’s first four months, his team lost four more times over a 20-day span in late July and early August, allowing 14 goals in five games.
So Bradley brought Silva up from Brazil, gave him two starts in five days, and the versatile defender helped lock down the team’s first shutout in a month in Wednesday’s win over Real Salt Lake.
“He’s done a great job getting to know the guys on and off the field. And so far, it’s been a smooth transition,” right back Steven Beitashour said. “We stopped making simple mistakes. That’s the main thing.”
Silva, acquired on loan, isn’t the first person Bradley has plucked from his past to help in LAFC’s inaugural season. His first coaching hires included Ante Razov and Kenny Arena, who both played under Bradley in MLS; goalkeeper coach Zak Abdel was on Bradley’s staff in Egypt; and Mike Sorber, the director of soccer operations, was an assistant to Bradley with the U.S. national team.
“I coached a lot of players, and what I enjoy is getting to know guys. Then you remember the ones where the partnership was positive,” said Bradley, whose team takes an 11-7-6 record into the match with Colorado (6-12-6).
In Silva’s case, Bradley followed his career through three stops in Brazil and seven years with Dynamo Kiev in the Ukrainian Premier League.
“I talked to him months back to see what he was thinking about his future,” Bradley said. “I was confident it would all work out. He’s shown that he can help our team.
“It’s all positive.”