LEHI, Utah — Last week saw the culmination of a whirlwind three-week adventure for Real Salt Lake teenager Luis Gil.
Make that a world-wind adventure.
Gil spent a week in France in mid-May (along with RSL teammate Donny Toia), where the US U-20 team tried to get over the disappointment of missing out on a World Cup bid by playing the French national team in two separate friendly matches. Gil featured in both, and notched a goal in the first of the two matches.
From there, Gil departed for Portugal to spend what was to be a little over a week with the US U-18 team in the Lisbon International Tournament. Gil captained the team in a draw against Netherlands in their tournament opener, but returned to the United States before the tournament was over to help shore up Real Salt Lake’s depleted roster.
“At first I was happy because I wanted to be playing on the first team, but at the same time I left my teammates back over there,” Gil said. “It was a tournament, something important for our country. It was a good experience, obviously, getting more playing time over there and representing [my] country. We got pretty good results.”
Gil hopes to put his international experience to use right away. His squad has absences in the midfield and at the forward spot, and he could see time in both spots as soon as the team’s matchup at home against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
“I’ve just got to be patient, and I know [head coach Jason Kreis] is being patient with me,” he said. “And when he does give me the opportunity, I’ve just got to take advantage of that and give it my all.”
After hurrying back from Portugal to join RSL just a day prior to Saturday’s match — a 2-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders — Gil did see a few minutes of action late in the game. He came onto the pitch in the 86th minute, and just two minutes later garnered an assist with a throw-in to teammate Nelson González.
“That’s what I’ve got to do,” he said. “I’ve got to come off the bench and be productive.”
When asked about his opportunities to improve, he answered with a simplistic confidence that will leave Kreis and Real Salt Lake fans hopefully smiling for years to come.
“That’s what I’m here for,” he said. “With time I’ll just get better.”