Luis Gil's performance on Saturday was very, very good, and we've been effusive about it since. It may have been his best 90-minute performance of the season — he didn't have much in the way of dropoff, and he remained active and involved in play.
But his 2014 has been marked by inconsistency — inconsistency in playing time and subsequent inconsistency in performance. Those two so often go together. We're not blaming Jeff Cassar for picking Luke Mulholland week-in, week-out, though — he's been a surprise all season.
So when we gaze upon a projected lineup for Sunday's second leg against LA Galaxy, we might ask ourselves a question about who starts in the central part of midfield. If we rewind a bit, we'll see Luke Mulholland and Ned Grabavoy have been the consistent pairing, but it's rarely so simple.
Let's go over the three players gunning for that spot. We'll let you decide who starts. (I mean, kind of. You don't actually get to decide.)
Our kind-of-long-haired midfield man, Ned Grabavoy, brings to the field a veteran presence, a desire to retain possession in difficult circumstances, and smart play. He may not often be the one sending in the final pass or scoring the goal, but he's involved in play leading to goals with startling frequency. (We'll break down who is involved in goal-producing plays in the offseason, don't you worry.)
His argument for starting is simple: He's calm, good in attack, good in defense, and a master of possession. Aside from all that, he's no longer terribly ill. Good.
Our English central midfielder doesn't have too much bite to his play — in fact, he's weeded out the bad tackles this season after that red card against Chivas USA — but he's a fine player defensively and a very good player in attack. His best trait? Probably his propensity for getting on the end of rebounds, which has benefited our side often.
His argument for starting: He hasn't done anything to lose his starting spot. He's been good for most of the season, and he's gone from a 45-minute player to a 60-minute player to a 90-minute player.
Our young American dynamic midfielder, Luis Gil, is pegged as potentially the best attacking American midfielder ever. Now, obviously that's a little premature, but what we saw Saturday was an attacking midfielder playing a deeper spot and doing it well. He's long been thought of as being played somewhat out of position, but really, it's more that he's been forced to add elements to his gameplay that weren't there. He's slowly becoming a much better player than simply an attacking one — he'll be a great all-around midfielder someday. We hope.
His argument for starting: He's got magic feet and a great eye for the final pass.