Obscure Metro Files: Damian Silvera and Carlos Parra
July 14, 2005
When one talks about the biggest disappointments about up-and-coming American players who wore Metro colors, the conversation starts and ends with Steve Shak. Projected to go not higher than the third round, he was drafted by Octavio Zambrano with the first overall pick in the 2000 SuperDraft, over such players as Nick Garcia, Carlos Bocanegra, Danny Califf, Sasha Victorine, and Bobby Convey. Shak didn't last two seasons with the MetroStars and didn't last three in MLS, but he is not obscure enough for this discussion. Damian Silvera and Carlos Parra are.
When MLS just started, each team was given four "marquee" allocations. Three of the Metro allotment were obvious choices with big names: Tab Ramos, Tony Meola, and Roberto Donadoni. The fourth was a college player named Damian Silvera, who had just come off a stellar career at the University of Virginia, leaving as the college's all-time career leader in games played, assists, and points, and leading the team to three consecutive NCAA Championships. A rising star on the US Under-23 national team, he was destined for greatness. So you can't fault the Metros for grabbing him before he had a chance to be taken in the college draft, where ex-Virginia coach Bruce Arena was drooling to grasp him for his DC team. Instead, Arena ended up with some guy from North Carolina named Eddie Pope... How did that one work out?
So Silvera was a Metro, and he started immediately in the defensive midfield role. Called by Eddie Firmani "the next Claudio Reyna", he didn't try to be... and failed. Silvera played 17 games for the Metros, started only nine (he did miss the middle of the season with the US Olympic team), and tallied a solitary assist. A poster child for college players not able to make a transition to the pros, he was often lost on the MLS level. Perhaps, his head was just not into it.
Even after such a nondescript season, Kansas City tried to resurrect Silvera by sending US national teamer Mike Sorber to Metro in exchange. But Silvera's career with the Wizards was even worse; he played all of three games with the team, and was released. There were rumors floating that he was battling depression, so his head not being into it during his Metro stint was very likely the case. Silvera then played for a short while for the Richmond Kickers of the A-League before leaving soccer for good, a promising career aborted.
(Update: on June 14, 2010, Silvera passed away at the age of 35. RIP, original Metro.)
If Silvera was the Metros' big tease of 1996, Carlos Parra took the title in 1997. With MLS instituting Project-40 to help soccer players skip college and go directly to the pros, the young Connecticut product and a US Under-20 player became the program's first signee, and was allocated to the Metros. Like Silvera, he started immediately, and like Silvera, quickly began to regress, playing in just four games (three starts) in 1997 (he did play for the US at the World Youth Championship). In 1998, Parra came off the bench twice before being traded to Miami for Ramiro Corrales.
Parra's vagabond career would then take him to New England, Colorado (for whom he never played), and Rochester and Atlanta of the A-League. At one point, he built himself into a very solid second division player... just like Steve Shak. Incompetence has a way of repeating itself from time to time.