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Jeff Cassar faced with Gil conundrum

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Cassar has a problem, and it has been described by some as a "good problem to have." I'm not convinced that's the case.

If you'll let me go back to last season for just a moment, I'd remind you that Gil seemed to be Cassar's first choice starter for the side of the diamond along side the dearly departed Ned Grabavoy (RIP), with Mulholland being the favorite to come off the bench. After a short injury break for Gil, Luke had secured the starting spot ahead of Gil for the short term and they ended up trading off starting spots throughout the rest of the season.

For Gil that meant making 4 fewer appearances, and (this is the critical part) playing almost 700 minutes less in '14 than he did in '13. That is not a small setback for a young player that many had picked to have a break out season last year. It is definitely too early this season to draw sweeping conclusions about a player's contributions, but it's hard to argue that Mulholland hasn't had the better impact on the field for RSL so far this season.

There is also a case to be made that Gil is largely being played out of position. Under Cassar he has been mostly deployed tactically as a number 8, playing a wide(ish) midfielder role, one with more defensive than offensive responsibilities. Its a widely help opinion that while Luis has adapted to that role quite well, it is not his best position. For the youth national team, and when Javier Morales is not available, he usually slots into the number 10 spot, where he has generally played well.

A number of pundits and national media types have at one point or another pegged him as the next Landon Donovan or Claudio Reyna type player, and that creative attacking midfielder position seems to be where he will eventually end up. It is hard for me to ignore the fact that he's in his 6th year of his professional career and hasn't played that postion with any kind of regularity at the club level.

We can talk about the impact of the Mulholland signing on Gil's minutes, or him playing out of position for the majority of his club career, but bottom line is that Gil has done little to live up to the hype surrounding the player the first 3 or 4 years he was on the team.

At 21 years old, the time has certainly not yet passed for Gil to become the player we all expected he would become. He still could be the next Donovan, but I don't think its unfair to say he has not progressed as fast as we hoped, and with the Javi and Mulholland playing as well as they have played this year and last, when can we expect that to happen?

Cassar has to somehow help Gil to realize his potential, while at the same time win games, even if that means playing other players ahead of Gil. Who is that a good problem for?