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Meet Real Salt Lake's 'Viking assassin' — defender Marcelo Silva

Real Salt Lake defender Marcelo Silva (30) celebrates after scoring the game-tying goal as Real Salt Lake and Minnesota play in an MLS soccer match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, July 20, 2019. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw.
Real Salt Lake defender Marcelo Silva (30) celebrates after scoring the game-tying goal as Real Salt Lake and Minnesota play in an MLS soccer match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, July 20, 2019. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw.
Scott G Winterton

SANDY — Real Salt Lake’s Marcelo Silva and his Spanish translator had answered a variety of questions — about his game-tying goal and a hard week of work to the club’s upcoming game against a respected Mexican team — when the center back was asked about a picture above his locker.

The Uruguayan soccer player laughed while looking back at a taped-up photo of Floki, a character from the popular History Channel show “Vikings” who was captured wielding an ax in each hand and a crazed look on his face.

Turns out, an RSL teammate was behind it ending up there, covering Silva’s nameplate in the home locker room underneath Rio Tinto Stadium.

"(Kyle) Beckerman told him he’s a Viking assassin," Silva’s translator said, smiling. "So he put it up there."

Floki the Viking was known in the TV show for being a fierce warrior and talented at his craft (building Viking ships). Though Silva doesn't carry around hatchets on the soccer pitch, the 30-year-old's reputation as a soccer assassin — or at least a tough-as-nails defender — is spreading.

Real Salt Lake defender Marcelo Silva (30) celebrates with teammates after scoring the game-tying goal as Real Salt Lake and Minnesota play in an MLS soccer match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, July 20, 2019. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw
Real Salt Lake defender Marcelo Silva (30) celebrates with teammates after scoring the game-tying goal as Real Salt Lake and Minnesota play in an MLS soccer match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, July 20, 2019. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw.
Scott G Winterton

His coach has certainly noticed — and not just because Silva scored a beautiful goal late against Minnesota on Saturday.

“Marcelo is somebody who I can relate to because he's cut from the same cloth as me," RSL coach Mike Petke said. "He's a no-nonsense, hard-working, hard-tackling type of defender who knows what he's good at and knows what he's not good at. He cleans up the ball, gets the ball to somebody who can make a difference."

The Assassin, an imposing and solid 6-foot-2, 181-pound athlete, made a difference Saturday while being in the right place at the right time.

With the home team playing a surprisingly lackluster game and trailing 1-0 to United, RSL had a corner kick that sailed long. But Jefferson Savarino recovered the ball on the far side and then fired a centering pass in Silva's direction.

"I could feel something coming," RSL forward Brooks Lennon said. "We were putting a lot of pressure on them and we were getting crosses from myself, from Savarino and from Donny (Toia) on the left side. We were putting a lot of pressure on them. I think we had a couple corners in that span. I knew we were on the front foot, and then luckily, Marcelo put one in for us to level it."

Silva took the ball off of a short hop, leaned his body back to leverage lower-body power and then catapulted the volley into the goal while landing on the turf.

“They were marking a zone and the first shot in the box looked a little long," Silva said via his translator. "Minnesota started to get closer to the goal and I had the position to be alongside him and was able to score the goal. It was a good position that I had with Savarino. He gave me the pass that gave me the opportunity to score."

The athletic move was just like the defender always practices just in case, right?

"We practice a lot," Silva said, chuckling. "But most of the time it's not me who does this."

RSL needed it, though. The goal helped salvage one point for a team that's battling for a playoff spot.

The goal was Silva's second this season. He didn't score in his first two seasons with Real.

Petke likes how he's playing overall — goals or not.

"I thought over the last couple of games, he's definitely been patient with getting back in the lineup," Petke said. "When he has been in the lineup, I think that he's done well, very well — to the point that when Nedum (Onuoha) comes back from injury and visa things over in England and everybody's healthy, it will give me a lot to think about. There's no guaranteed two center backs right now, because of the way Marcelo came back in."