If the first five years of a child's life are particularly important to development, then it's no wonder that Gabe Silveira is a soccer talent.
From ages 2 through 6, the FC Tucson midfielder lived, and began his education in the game, in Brazil.
Born in Northern California to Brazilian parents, Silveira moved to Brazil at a young age because his parents wanted to be closer to family.
"I got to learn Portuguese. I got to connect with a lot of my family," Silveira said after Tuesday's practice at Kino Sports Complex. "It was a great experience. I played soccer in the streets with all the neighbors.
"Playing in the streets was cool. I remember making bets on games, and the losing team would buy a 2-liter soda. So you'd have motivation to win your game. It was always fun."
Even after the family's return to California, his passion for the game didn't simmer like feijoada for very long as he quickly became a star on the rise in the Marin County youth programs.
"My dad's a huge soccer player," Silveira said. "He still plays today in an over-40 league. Soccer's always been a huge thing in my family."
He learned about "jogo bonito" or "the beautiful game" in Brazil; he learned about another vastly important soccer value from a youth coach in the United State.
"When I moved back here I played for a small club," Silveira said. "We were called the Tiburon Dynamite. It wasn't too competitive of a league, but I remember our coach focused a lot on fitness, and I feel like that's part of why I have my fitness level today."
Through his youth, high school and now college days - he will enter his senior season at Sacramento State this fall - fitness has been a hallmark of Silveira.
FC Tucson coach Rick Schantz couldn't help but notice that quality when Silveira started playing in the Old Pueblo. But upon closer study, Schantz realized there was more to the 21-year-old's game.
"When Gabe first came out here what set him apart was his work-rate," Schantz said. "He closes down defensively very, very well. He gets very close to his opponent. He's not easy to beat on the dribble. He challenges every ball in the air. He looks like he's always fresh. It's the 65th minute, and the kid is still running faster than everyone on the field. It's because of his desire to compete.
"Now, as I've gotten to see him over a month, it's not just his work-rate, it's his quality. He has a really, really good first touch. He's very deceptive. When he gets the ball, he doesn't lose it because he's got some body feints and some movements that are hard for defenders to read. So you mix that with that work-rate, and you have kind of the total package."
A total package that was delivered back via Brazil.
• The club announced the launching of a new soccer radio show that will be broadcast Saturday mornings on ESPN Tucson (1490-AM, 104.9-FM). The one-hour "Soccer Talk With FC Tucson" airs at 9 a.m. and will cover FC Tucson and the rest of the soccer world.
• Friday's match will be the first of back-to-back matches against the Ventura County Fusion. The teams will also face off Sunday at Kino Sports Complex North Field No. 5. In the early match of Friday's doubleheader, Tucson Soccer Academy FC will face the Utah Starzz at 5:15 p.m.
- What: Ventura County Fusion at FC Tucson
- When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
- Where: Kino Sports Complex North Field No. 5