Player of the Week

Player of the Week: Brian Sylvestre

Photo: Earl Gardner

Let’s be honest: Philadelphia Union’s match against Vancouver wasn’t particularly inspiring between the poor finishing, two gifted goals, and Maurice Edu getting torched by Darren Mattocks. Still, because of this woeful combination of poor performances, deciding the player of the week was actually quite easy.

Brian Sylvestre has had an interesting soccer career, to say the least. After playing his youth and academy soccer in Florida, Sylvestre passed up a chance collegiate soccer, instead joining the Vancouver Whitecaps residency program in 2009. He eventually signed with their senior team in the preseason of 2011, but failed to make a first team appearance and was cut following the 2012 season.

He then signed with the USL Pro side and Philadelphia Union affiliate Harrisburg City Islanders, where he famously made his professional debut in a 3-1 loss against the Union and their freshly minted head coach, Jim Curtin. Despite the loss, Sylvestre played admirably and produced a number of show-stopping saves before conceding the equalizer to Maurice Edu late in the game, followed by an Andrew Wenger brace in extra time. It was largely through this performance that Brian Sylvestre earned a spot in Philadelphia’s preseason camp, ultimately getting cut and signing with the NASL’s Carolina RailHawks to serve as a backup netminder.

He was temporarily handed the reigns as the Union’s starting goalkeeper thanks to some bizzarre circumstances in which both John McCarthy and Andre Blake injured themselves during training, which would have logically opened up the door for Rais Mbolhi to return. But it wasn’t meant to be, as Jim Curtin stood his ground in saying that Mbolhi had made his last Union appearance. Curtin’s comments were echoed by Philadelphia’s CEO Nick Sakiewicz, who stated that Mbolhi was earmarked for summer transfer (one of the few wise things that he’s stated in about two years). It should also be noted that Rais now trains in the Union’s practice facility, but not with the team itself. However humiliating that must be, the estimated $400,000-$450,000 that he’s making will likely soften that.

So, in Mbolhi’s place on Saturday stood Sylvestre, a 22 year old goalkeeper who filled in admirably despite the loss. He put in a steady performance with solid distribution, sound aerial play, and 7 key saves against a formidable Vancouver attack. In addition, he showed a certain fight and resolve that hasn’t been seen much in this ill-fated season. While the outcome was probably inevitable from the start, Sylvestre’s performance was inspiring to watch.

During the 2015 season, the Union have been hard hit by a number of injuries, suspensions, poor calls, overpaid goalkeepers, and self-inflicted errors. As Adam Cann said in his player ratings, Brian Sylvestre managed to do the impossible: keep the goalkeeper’s play out of the conversation despite such dire circumstances.

Will we ever see him in a Union shirt again? Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, for now, he is PSP’s Player of the Week.

6 Comments

  1. With all due respect to the goalkeeper. I think POTW honors clearly go to Ricky Fowler.

  2. Going by Curtin’s previous logic with Blake not starting over McCarthy, then there should be no way that McCarthy should start over Sylvestre now, right?

  3. I actually thought Sylvestre played better in that one game than McCarthy did in his 5. Small sample size for sure – but he made all the saves he was supposed too and his distribution was much better that McC’s….he deserves another game. Which he may get anyway considering the league policy on concussions.

    • Agree. If possible, I’d start Sylvestre over McCarthy. It’s an easy decision.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Agree. McCarthy is too likely to hurt someone, out there…and by someone, I mean his brain.
        .
        I cannot believe that these are our goalkeeping options. It’s beginning to become surreal. I’m now interested to see how bad this club can get…

  4. Other folks know the intricacies of the game far better than a civilian like me, but I liked what I saw of Sylvestre.

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