Orlando City Stadium was rocking Saturday night.
From the press box there was a budding excitement. From the stands there was a palpable energy. But on the field? Pure electricity.
“Oh man, it was amazing,” Pierre Da Silva said. “It was so loud. The fans were amazing.”
Da Silva had been on the field before. He played during Kids vs. Pros and at the training session on Media Day, but the clicking of cameras doesn’t even come close to the roar of The Wall.
For Da Silva, it was more than the energy of the crowd pumping him up. Imagine being thrown into a match clinging to a one-goal lead, making your MLS debut – as a teenager.
Eighteen-year-old Da Silva became the second-youngest player ever to play for the Lions, missing Tommy Redding’s mark by just days. He also became the first Orlando City Pro Academy product to make an MLS appearance – milestones for himself and the Club.
“It means a lot,” he said. “I worked this whole time [from the Academy to OCB] just to be in the First Team and now I got my chance.”
As far as debuts go, Da Silva’s was special. Coming on in front of the home fans, minutes away from preserving a perfect record. Bunkering down on defense probably wasn’t what he had in mind for his first top-flight appearance, but things rarely go as planned.
What he’ll remember most, perhaps, is a moment of defensive brilliance from Joe Bendik, and the ringing in his ears, courtesy of 25,527 of his closest friends.
“The crowd, when you’re on the outside it’s different than when you’re in the middle,” he said. “When you’re in the middle of the pitch, like when Joe made that save, my ears were blasting. It was so loud.”
His ears won’t always ring when he steps on the pitch. His minutes won’t always be so brief. His role not nearly as defensive. For an attacking-minded player – one who’s appeared multiple times for the U.S. U-19 national team – it’s a quick taste of what’s to come.
“I got my chance. I just have to work hard and hopefully I get in the starting XI soon enough. Just keep working from there.
“This is just the beginning.”