SANDY, Utah — Although it it still early in the season, Luis Gil has been the only Real Salt Lake midfielder to start each of their four games. His presence has helped keep some continuity with the shuffling of players in and out of the lineup due to various reasons, from injuries, illness, family matters or international duty.
"I think the guys that have stepped in have done a good job," the 19-year-old told MLSsoccer.com this past week at training. "Sure, it hurts us to keep having to bring guys in and out all the time, but all the guys now know our system and what is expected of them. We are still trying to learn more about each other, still trying to jell, but in the long run, maybe it can help us that we have had a few different players step in and I think they have played pretty well."
While Gil has positive thoughts about how those around him have played, he is a little less certain with how well he feels his play has been.
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"I think I have played OK," he said. "I'm not sure if I would give myself a grade, but I think overall I have had some really good moments, but there is always more I could do. I had a few good offensive chances in the first couple of games, but I think I could have done a little better in the last couple."
Gil's self evaluation goes right along with how RSL coach Jason Kreis feels not just about Gil, but how the overall team has played as well.
"I think in every game we've had moments and spurts where it has been pretty good, and moments and spurts where it has been pretty bad," Kreis told reporters. "That is what I expected. I expected to not see perfection over the first four games of our season. I think we should be a little bit thankful that it's not. We have a lot of room to improve, a lot of stuff to learn. We want to be at our best at the end of the season."
Having only one player that has started every game in the midfield does make it tough, but Kreis feels even if he could have all his first-choice XI available every game, the RSL lineup may have had just as many variations to it.
"It would be nice, but again, I don't think that even if all of our players were healthy and fit, I'm not so sure we would be playing the same lineup," said Kreis. "At this time of the season, I don't think that you really should be. I think you need to be giving different players opportunities and chances and looking at how different mixes look together so that you can get to the middle or second-half of the season and then try to maintain a little bit of consistency."
As Real host Seattle at Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday (6 pm ET, watch on MLS Live), the lineup will once again have some variety to it. The five players away on international duty, Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, Nick Rimando, Abdoulie Mansally and Álvaro Saborío, are all back and expected to be in the starting lineup.