Atlanta United’s Xande Silva happy to be in city, with team

Atlanta United forward Xande Silva #16 celebrates with teammates after a goal during the first half of the match against Nashville SC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA on Saturday August 26, 2023. (Photo by Jay Bendlin/Atlanta United)

Credit: Jay Bendlin/Atlanta United

Credit: Jay Bendlin/Atlanta United

Atlanta United forward Xande Silva #16 celebrates with teammates after a goal during the first half of the match against Nashville SC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA on Saturday August 26, 2023. (Photo by Jay Bendlin/Atlanta United)

Transfers and loans in soccer can be odd.

Two years ago, Xande Silva and Atlanta United were talking about him coming from Nottingham Forest in England’s second division.

The discussions were exploratory. Silva, frustrated while at Forest, wanted to play. Now. He instead agreed to go to Dijon in France’s Ligue 2, where he knew he would play. After a good year there, Silva and Atlanta United agreed to a deal earlier this summer.

Now, Silva is happy. He is playing. He is living in a city that he very much enjoys. He is playing with teammates who he appreciates.

“I’m excited,” he said. “We have a very like talented team, you know? Good players. And I mean, the team. I’m lucky with the team, there’s no jealousy. You know, everyone tries to help everyone.”

To watch Silva gliding down the left wing, defenders falling back because they are unsure what he’s going to do, it’s easy to imagine why he progressed through the Portugal’s youth national teams, where he made 65 appearances.

It’s then hard to figure out what happened next.

He signed with West Ham in 2018. He scored three goals in his debut with West Ham 2. He made his first-team debut as a sub in late December.

And then ... nothing. No more appearances.

Silva said he could say it was because of the coach. But, instead, he pivoted as quickly as he does when he has the ball and instead said maybe it was because he wasn’t ready.

“But it’s always experience, you know,” he said. “You learn. You learn always.”

Things became more complicated in the summer of 2019. Silva’s father died. Silva theorizes that the body and the emotions are connected. Silva’s intestines became blocked, requiring surgery. He was out for several months.

West Ham loaned him to Aris in Greece for the 2020-21 season. He made 29 appearances and four goals.

But his time at West Ham was over because his contract ended. Silva signed with Nottingham Forest on a free transfer for the 2021-22 season.

As was the case at West Ham, Silva couldn’t break into Forest’s first team. He left after one season to join Dijon. That’s when there were brief discussions to join Atlanta United.

Silva said he doesn’t regret his impatience in signing with Dijon instead of waiting to sign with Atlanta United.

“It made make me stronger,” he said. “I came, like more prepared.”

Things worked out with Dijon. Silva six goals in 32 appearances. He joined Atlanta United on loan after the season.

Silva said he’s the type of guy that can be at home anywhere, which, along with playing, has made his loan to Atlanta United go so smoothly. He has two goals and three assists in seven appearances, is tied for 12th in MLS since the restart after the Leagues Cup. His 1.06 goals plus assists per 90 minutes is tied for seventh in the league. His 1.91 chances per created is second on the team. He said he loves living in Midtown and exploring restaurants and other things with his family.

He hopes his loan becomes permanent.

It’s funny how moves can work.

“I’m having fun,” he said. “I remember the last time I used to wake up like happy for God to ... be around my teammates. I’m a type of guy, always smiling, always happy, positive, even though things don’t go well. I always try to put a smile on my face and people’s faces too. And I think that’s important, you know?”

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Atlanta United’s 2023 MLS schedule

Feb. 25 Atlanta United 2, San Jose Earthquakes 1

March 4 Atlanta United 1, Toronto FC 1

March 11 Atlanta United 3, Charlotte FC 0

March 18 Atlanta United 5, Portland 1

March 25 Columbus 6, Atlanta United 1

April 1 Atlanta United 1, New York Red Bulls 0

April 8 Atlanta United 1, New York City FC 1

April 15 Atlanta United 2, Toronto FC 2

April 23 Atlanta United 2, Chicago 1

April 29 Nashville SC 3, Atlanta United 1

May 6 Inter Miami CF 2, Atlanta United 1

May 13 Charlotte 3, Atlanta United 1

May 17 Atlanta United 4, Colorado 0

May 20 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 3

May 27 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 1

May 31 Atlanta United 3, New England 3

June 7 Atlanta United 0, LAFC 0

June 10 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 1

June 21 Atlanta United 2, New York City 2

June 24 New York Red Bulls 4, Atlanta United 0

July 2 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 0

July 8 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0

July 12 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

July 15 Orlando City 2, Atlanta United 1

July 25 Miami 4, Atlanta United 0 in Leagues Cup

July 29 Cruz Azul 1 (5), Atlanta United (4) 1 in Leagues Cup

Aug. 20 Atlanta United 2, Seattle 0

Aug. 26 Atlanta United 4, Nashville 0

Aug. 30 Cincinnati 2, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 2 Atlanta United 2, FC Dallas 2

Sept. 16 Atlanta United 5, Inter Miami 2

Sept. 20 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 1

Sept. 23 Atlanta United 4, Montreal 1

Oct. 4 at Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 7 vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 21 at FC Cincinnati, 6 p.m.