SANDY, Utah — When Luis Gil left for the U-20 World Cup in early June, many wondered about the future of the 19-year-old midfielder with Real Salt Lake.
The tournament has traditionally been used as a springboard for young, talented players to make a move to Europe with a big club. But despite a strong performance at the tournament in Turkey, Gil (above, right) still remains within of the league-leading RSL fold.
Part of it may be that he struggled to regain his footing after rejoining the club but the way he has been playing lately, fans and club are plenty happy he is still in Utah.
"When I came back from the [U-20] World Cup, I wasn't really in the RSL rhythm, so I focused more on my defensive responsibilities," Gil told MLSsoccer.com following training on Tuesday. "But now, I am more comfortable and starting to concentrate on going forward, putting myself in position to score goals."
Gil has four goals and three assists on the season, both career highs, but he feels like he has been a much more complete player this year.
"I feel like personally I have been more committed defensively, but my offense has been coming around. I think just lately I have been getting more into the attack and getting some chances to score besides with my head," joked the 5-foot-8 Gil, who before Saturday's goal against Columbus had three goals on the season – all with his head.
In RSL's diamond midfield, Gil is given a huge defensive responsibility, something he takes great pride in, even more so than in his previous three seasons in the league.
"The big thing for me is to play good defense as soon as possible after we lose the ball," Gil said. "If we can win the ball in their half the field, it makes it that much easier to get in the box. High pressure defense makes the offense that much better and you are much more likely to put yourself in position to score."
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Gil said he felt like his game against Columbus last weekend was probably his most complete he's played this season, which is perfect timing with RSL's huge Western Conference contest coming up against Portland on Friday at Rio Tinto Stadium (10 pm ET, NBC Sports).
"I am not one that really cares about my stuff personally," he said. "It may have been my best game, but all I am really focused on now is helping out the team and getting ready for a big, big game against Portland."