Real Salt Lake had a quiet draft in 2011. The first-round pick the team had was traded to Chivas USA in exchange for allocation money, their first second-round pick was sent to Portland for Arturo Alvarez, and their second second-round pick, in one of the more important deals in Real Salt Lake history, was sent to Sporting Kansas City for Luis Gil.
When Luis Gil decided to spurn offers from Arsenal and interest from Real Madrid, Manchester City, and others, part of his MLS contract stipulated a limited set of teams he could play for in the league. Two, to be precise: Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake. He was signing a Generation Adidas deal, and the league had much interest in keeping him around.
Rather than allow teams to select Gil in a draft, MLS held a weighted lottery to allocation the youngster. Kansas City won that, but the league had already assured Gil that he'd play for one of those two teams, one way or another. The lack of transparency in the league may be a hinderance in some respects, but that assurance given to Gil may have been the one thing keeping him from taking that Arsenal deal, which was laden with risk.
At Arsenal, Gil would have been moved around in Europe until he was 18 — two years of playing with whomever was interested in developing him — then he'd sign a senior deal and spend time in Spain until he could secure a passport. It's common practice for Arsenal today, with the best player to come out of that arguably Mexican striker Carlos Vela — but others didn't fare as well. Wellington Silva, Pedro Botehlo, and Samuel Galindo are three to have tried the same strategy, but so much is dependent on the player and external circumstances — none of them made it the club, although Wellington Silva still remains under contract.
So to MLS he went, and Kansas City picked him up. A closed, blind-bidding process ensued between Seattle and Real Salt Lake to determine where Gil played. He landed here in exchange for an international spot for a year — putting us at five for a year, which is not particularly many — and a second-round draft pick in 2011.
And so it was that Luis Gil came to Real Salt Lake, with the club accepting some short-term difficulty in exchange for one of the more promising players to come from a United States youth system. It remains to be seen how Luis Gil's career trajectory ends up actuating, but for RSL, that deal has already been well worth it.