The Silver brothers could hardly appear more different. Jonny stands 5 feet 10 inches, a stout goalkeeper with black, wavy hair, brown eyes and tree-trunk legs. Bryan measures just a shade under 6 feet, a willowy attacking midfielder with tightly cropped blonde hair, blue eyes and a long stride.

Hang around Oakton's prized siblings for any stretch of time, though, and you'll notice more similarities than differences between the twins. Both are quick to laugh. Both furrow their brow when elaborating a point. Both are more articulate than your average high school kid.

And this summer, both soccer players are determined to get better.

"It's really important to get ahead of everybody else, especially in the summertime," Bryan said, "so that you're fit and you have that advantage over other players who might not be training over the summer."

For Virginia public school students like Bryan and Jonny Silver, high school soccer season won't get underway for another eight months, an eternity for any teenager. Many multi-sport athletes use their summer breaks to gear up for football or cross country in the fall, while others look ahead to basketball or swimming in the winter.

But for club soccer standouts throughout the area, July marks a pivotal month to stay sharp on the pitch. The Silver twins' club team, Loudoun 99 Red, won the US Youth Soccer Region I (East) championship for the Under-16 division in West Virginia last week, vaulting them to the national championships in Frisco, Tex., on July 26. That competition is considered the country's most prestigious youth soccer tournament, the final stage of a year-long progression beginning at the local and state levels.

The twins' Oakton team, meanwhile, is coming off a superb spring season that ended prematurely. The Cougars went unbeaten en route to the Conference 5 title before falling to eventual state champion Washington-Lee, 2-1, in the 6A North region quarterfinals.

"Losing to Washington-Lee was unfortunate because we had to do it so early. We were hoping to get to play them in the state finals," said Bryan, a rising junior born 18 minutes ahead of his brother. "It may not have been our best game, but I still think we put up a good fight. We were probably the best team around to stop them."

Bryan plays his preferred position as a defensive, holding midfielder for Loudoun 99 Red, though Oakton Coach Todd Spitalny likes to utilize his speed as an attacking midfielder in the springtime. Either way, that means Bryan bases his training regimen on stamina.

One of his favorite routines for bolstering endurance is called "120s," a fitness drill that gives you 60 seconds to sprint from one end of the standard 120-yard field to the other and back. If you make it in 55 seconds, you have five seconds until you have to go again. If you don't make it in 60 seconds, it's a failed attempt. Bryan and Jonny typically aim for about 15 successful attempts before moving on to something else.

"The first thing is being able to last the whole game," Bryan said. "And then you've got to work on your touches and technical work."

Lasting the whole game was a struggle for Bryan during an arduous sophomore season. Just a couple days before the conference tournament in May, he was diagnosed with second-stage Lime Disease, which doctors explained had been causing his fatigue and apathy for the previous two months. Bryan recovered gradually and returned to play 50 minutes in the first round of regionals against Mount Vernon, scoring on a spectacular, left-footed half volley to give Oakton a 2-1 lead deep in the second half.

Jonny takes part in 120s, too, but his regimen centers more on quick, lateral movement than distance running. Quickness and proper footwork are paramount for any goalkeeper, so Jonny loads up on shuttle runs between cones and goalposts while mixing in shot-stopping to hone both his stride length and handling technique.

Jonny's quickness and sure hands weren't the only attributes that made him a first-team all-region selection this year. He's also reliable with his feet, having honed his footwork as an occasional field player growing up. He was Loudoun 99 Red's leading scorer during fall season two years ago as a forward.

"That really did help me get the mindset of a striker," said Jonny, who's posted 11 shutouts since taking over Oakton's starting goalkeeper spot near the end of his freshman season. "In a one-on-one situation it would help me out to see how the striker would try to finish the chance."

Seven starters are set to return for a promising Oakton squad next year, but for now the Silver twins are envisioning the national stage as they shoot on each other in the backyard.

"It really does help me, especially because we're always pushing each other to get better, pushing each other to do one more, two more," Jonny said. "Having somebody to shoot on me and somebody as good as Bryan, he can really push me and challenge me to make a couple saves and to keep working hard."

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