Few players at Real Salt Lake had a more mixed 2015 than Luis Gil, whose sixth year at the club looks likely to be his last.
Expectations for Gil have been high since his arrival as a 16-year-old. He disappointed in 2014, and those around the club described his poor season as a point of frustration, including for the player himself. That included since-departed GM Garth Lagerwey.
But despite the frustration, the club showed real faith in him for 2015, handing him the
This year, he didn't come close to meeting them. In fact, by and large, he struggled to make more than a momentary positive impact on a match.
In many cases, asking about coaching concerns is mostly a non-factor. With Gil, we have to wonder if there's a conflict there, whether it's of personality, contract, or something more significant. At times, he appeared to completely and utterly lack motivation.
That failure on his part to play reasonable defense — something that he'd made part of his game under Jason Kreis in 2012 and 2013 — led to him being basically dropped from starting contention. From April 11 to May 23, he started and played 90 minutes in every match. Then, only three days after that, he was called to the U-23s Toulon Tournament, and RSL requested he stay.
But at the same time, Javier Morales, whose timetable for return from a concussion had been fluid — at best — recovered and started matches again. Gil was cut out of the struggling side, and he went back to a bench role. As a young player, that's something that happens, but it led to Gil not making another start until June 27. He made two consecutive starts, then in the next match — a July 11 loss against Colorado Rapids. The highlight above? That's from that match.
Gil made the starting lineup three times after that. And after August 8, he made only one — a start in the final match of the season as RSL juggled CONCACAF Champions League qualification in the group stage.
Of course, without context, that just looks like a player who is out of favor, and while it does seem like there might have been something to that, we should also consider that he was away with the U.S. U-23 side in a CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.
We should also look at the arrival of Luis Silva as the sort of move that led to decreased minutes for Gil — but it was more than just minutes. Often, Gil didn't make the bench at all.
The highs of Gil's year were undoubtedly not with Real Salt Lake, as he continued his rise with U.S. youth teams. In matches with the U-23s in the first few months of the year, he captained the team, and by all accounts, did quite well.
That continued in the U-23 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament, and he eventually captained the team for one match when Wil Trapp was out of contention.
But beyond his personal success during the tournament, insofar as he played significant minutes in each match, the team struggled once they made it to Utah for the semifinal against Honduras.
Beyond continuing to be one of the key cogs for a U.S. youth team, Gil also earned his second U.S. cap, again during Jurgen Klinsmann's January camp.
Gil's contract is set to expire at the end of 2015, and he's been said to have offers from Europe, Mexico, and elsewhere in MLS. While that hasn't materialized into anything yet, that gives plenty of credence to the notion that he's long gone.
Where will he end up? It's hard to say, but Real Salt Lake made him an offer earlier this year, and there's every reason to suspect that was a bonafide offer — and perhaps one designed only to retain Gil's rights as he looks to push his career forward.