We've been hemming and hawing collectively about Luis Gil for the better part of his Real Salt Lake career, wondering what his best position was, and if it was a position we could support within the team.
We came one step closer to answers on Saturday when he started against Seattle Sounders in our rousing 2-1 win at home. He was a strong figure in the lineup, but he wasn't playing the Javier Morales role. I mean, outside of his position — at the top of the diamond — he differentiated himself as a player.
It's not the first time he's shown that he's quite a player in his own right, but it might have marked the first real turn from a player trying to replicate another's style of performance to a player expressing himself as an individual.
It was like Guarneri branching out from Stradivarius-inspired instruments to becoming his own luthier — if you don't mind a bit of historical relation here, however inappropriate it may be. Luis Gil may not yet be a master of the trade, but he's moving in the right direction.
Time and time again, he took the ball and drove toward the defense, his dribbling skills carrying him across difficult challenges and his awareness moving him into stronger positions than we might have seen even a few months ago. It wasn't just a case of rising to the occasion, though there was certainly a sense of that. It wasn't just about becoming a "big player," or adapting his approach to better suit the opponent.
Gil pushed forward with the ball at his feet, and he attacked the defense with aplomb and style. It may have been his strongest MLS performance to date. It was arguably better than his very good showing in midweek against Club Tijuana — and he went 90 minutes then, too.
Luis Gil isn't there yet, though. He's not a complete player, and he's not Javier Morales. But for all the talk of him being the heir-apparent to Javier Morales, this was the first time he really looked like he was on the right path to that. For a player with so much potential it's at times frustrating when it doesn't shine through, this was a highly encouraging showing.
While we're at it, take a gander at this pass for Luke Mulholland's goal on Saturday.