Obscure Metro Files: Gilberto Flores and Danilo da Silva
August 5, 2008

For years, MLS fans thought that they had a solution to bring young foreign talent to America: scour the depths of Brazil. Surely, so many talented players must have fallen through the cracks. Surely, if these players are given the chance to succeed, they will be propelled to greatness by their samba skill.

And on-and-off for those years, MLS teams have tried to go that route. With limited success, to put it mildly. One would be hard-pressed to find an unknown Brazilian who was brought to MLS and succeeded: yes, there was Welton in the league's early stages, who scored a bunch but was not good enough to keep it up when the league improved. Recently, there was Thiago, who played well in stretches, but was dumped by the Fire, with no other team picking him up. Yes, there was our own Rodrigo Faria, who took the route to MLS through a US college, but even he couldn't last more than three years in the league.

Still, limited success or not, MLS teams keep trying. Metro, who failed at it with Guido in 1997, attempted to delve into the Brazilian pool again during Bob Bradley's tenure. So, among the multitude of trialists that went through Bradley's preseason camps, there were two young Brazilians who took part in the immortal La Manga Cup in 2004: Gilberto Flores and Danilo da Silva.

Their path to Metro diverged after the triumph in Spain; Gilberto was signed on April 1st of that year and made his Metro debut in June; Danilo was not signed until May of 2005, debuting in July. For a moment, the two former teammates at Ginasio Pinhalense were Metro teammates as well. But that moment was brief.

Gilberto impressed early on. After making his debut at San Jose on June 12, 2004, he kept his starting spot. Metro would proceed to beat LA back-to-back, with Gilberto providing the game-winning assist on a Mike Magee goal in the 2:1 win at home, and then putting on a 3:0 clinic in Home Depot Center. It looks like the hard-nosed midfielder has found a place on the team.

He started the next game as well, but that appearance lasted all of 24 minutes. For Clint Dempsey's tackle ruptured Gilberto's ankle, taking the Brazilian out of action for three months. He came back against Dallas late in the season, but something was off; he looked tentative, to put it mildly. It took Bob Bradley just 30 minutes to pull him from the playoff game in DC.

That proved to be Gilberto's last start with Metro. Prior to the 2005 season, many penciled him in as a starting defensive midfielder after Ricardo Clark's departure, but he lost the job to Michael Bradley, came off the bench for three nondescript appearances, and was released in June. New England picked Gilberto up, he made a solitary appearance for the Revs in the Open Cup, and left MLS after the season.

Danilo's debut came against San Jose as well; on July 23, 2005. He appeared in just six games for Metro, not distinguishing himself in any way. Da Silva came off the bench in five league matches as a defensive midfielder and started the Open Cup debacle in Rochester at right back.

Then, the 2006 offseason came. Major changes were sweeping Metro, and Danilo was caught in the windstorm. Supposedly, the team kept him in the dark regarding his return; he was dangled in trade offers that never materialized. On the same day that MetroFanatic was told by the club that da Silva signed with a team in Brazil, Mo Johnston proclaimed that he hadn't and will join Metro. Of course, Danilo never did. Interestingly, there was some talk of bringing him back the following offseason, but that never came to fruition.

So what have Gilberto and Danilo done since their Metro days? Both went back to Brazil. Gilberto has played for Juventude, Paranavai, and was last with Coritiba. Danilo signed with Guarani after the Johnston tease, played two games on loan with a Sao Paolo club that won the Brazilian league in 2007, and is now trying to make his name with Internacional.

Still, despite the lack of the no-name Brazilian success in MLS and beyond, one has a hunch that next time Metro decides to dip into the pool, many fans will forget the history and will get excited over the unknown prospects. But we're not holding our breath.

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