Quest for the Shield: Gil sees what might have been

Luis Gil of Real Salt Lake

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SANDY, Utah - When Real Salt Lake’s Luis Gil takes the field against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, watch  LIVE online), he’ll be looking across the field at what could have been.

Gil – who signed with the league in early 2010 at the age of 16 – was initially allocated to SKC via the weighted lottery process but was quickly sent to Salt Lake. The youngster has grown tremendously since that point, becoming a regular in the RSL midfield rotation.

And it wasn't going to happen any other way.

"It was basically a done deal before the lottery even happened,” Sporting KC Coach Peter Vermes mentioned after training on Thursday. “It was already put out that he would go there no matter what, but RSL would have to give something up. That's why we got what we got for him."

Reports at the time had Gil interested in learning the ropes in either Salt Lake or Seattle, and SKC honored his wishes by making the deal with RSL that ultimately sent him to the Wasatch Front, with a second round SuperDraft pick and an international roster spot heading in the other direction. At the time, changes were afoot in Kansas City as Vermes had taken the reigns just a few months prior - near the end of what was a disappointing season for his squad.

While Kansas City were a team in flux, RSL were a rock-solid veteran side coming off their first major title. The allure for Gil was obvious.

“[I liked] everything about it – they had just won the championship,” explained Gil. “They were a veteran team, and full of a bunch of leaders, and so it was something that I felt like I could learn from them. They were a very possession [oriented] team, and that’s something that fits my qualities.”

Although Gil failed to make the pitch in that first season, a key injury to Javier Morales opened up playing time in year two. He played in 25 games for the team in 2011, with 14 starts. And in six games in 2012, he’s started each of them.

His growth has been rapid, enough so that his current coach doesn’t consider his age (18) to be a consideration.
 
“I just don’t have a lot of thoughts on how old he is, and that’s a very good thing,” said Kreis. “One of the first things I heard as a young professional is that there are not young players and old players, there are good players and bad players.

“He’s ready,” continued Kreis. “There’s no hesitation on my part. There’s no hesitation on his teammates’ part. There’s no hesitation on Luis’s part. When he gets called upon he’s ready to contribute in a pretty major way.”

Gil will certainly be looking to contribute in a major way on Saturday against his would-be team, but it’s clear that he has no regrets.

“It was just a decision I took,” insisted Gil. “I felt like I’d be comfortable here. I’m happy with my decision to come here.”