Voices: Bradley Wright-Phillips

Carles Gil: Can the New England Revolution’s “baller” return to MVP best?


Carles Gil is a baller.

We're not just talking about any footballer – we're talking about ballers who play the game the right way. They’re players you pay to see, who get fans out of their seats with a turn or a defense-splitting pass. They can take people on 1v1, spot a run nobody else can and change a game in one moment.

For over five seasons now, we’ve seen that from the New England Revolution’s captain. He’s hit 20-plus goal contributions in every season when healthy, giving him 35 goals and 63 assists in 141 matches (two away from the G+A century club). That is a pure impact player, a baller who holds the highest respect around MLS.

And don’t forget: Carles Gil won the MLS MVP award only a few seasons ago, in 2021. He was a magician on that record-setting, Supporters’ Shield-winning team in New England. His left foot is incredible, he’s not afraid of a challenge and he leads by example. The Spanish No. 10 is truly an elite player in MLS.

This all means that, here in Matchday 11, New England need Carles Gil at his very best. They’re hosting Lionel Messi and Inter Miami CF on Saturday night (7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass), with over 65,000 fans expected at Gillette Stadium.

Yes, big portions of that crowd are coming to see Messi. But Carles Gil can take over that game too. As bad as the Revs have been in 2024, winning just once in eight games, Carles Gil is still creating chances, he’s still scoring goals. Week in and week out, he leaves the field and it's a 7-out-of-10, 8-out-of-10 performance. It's just he hasn't had the help. That’s the difference.

Now, here’s a chance to see some real fight from New England. I'd like to see them force Inter Miami into a high-tempo game like Sporting Kansas City did to start at Arrowhead Stadium several weeks ago. To do that, it’s getting Carles Gil on the ball higher up the pitch in dangerous areas with the right midfield support. This Inter Miami defense is vulnerable, and when you start sharp against them and don’t show them too much respect, you can get something out of the game.

Supporting cast

It can’t just all be on Carles Gil, though. Tomás Chancalay was scoring during their run to the Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinals, but it hasn’t translated to the league. Esmir Bajraktarevic is a big talent, but he’s only 19 years old and the end product isn’t always there. Getting Dylan Borrero back from injury soon will help, in all likelihood.

And here’s the elephant in the room: If Giacomo Vrioni were scoring, we’d be having a much different conversation. Vrioni has been here nearly two years now, scoring just eight goals in 43 games. It isn’t good enough, so I do think New England should go in another direction during the summer transfer window. He’s probably not the guy who will get you 15 to 20 goals and let Carles Gil truly shine.

It’s also because, as a striker, your relationship with your No. 10 is so important. I had that with Thierry Henry and Sacha Kljestan at the New York Red Bulls, and it’s truly the best feeling. All you’re thinking as a No. 9 is “give me one chance.” That can come through conversations or it can come naturally. But that mutual trust and understanding needs to be there. Going into a game and knowing you will get chances, that's half the battle for a striker. Then it’s on you to do your job and finish.

Which goes to say New England have half that puzzle in Carles Gil. But the other part is missing, so we don’t see his true peak here in 2024.

Carles Gil also signed a DP contract extension in March, committing to New England through at least the 2026 season. He’s one of the best players in MLS and is bought into that club, locked in as a Revolution player. He’s just 31 and probably has four more elite years in him. Players like him, with his special left foot, don’t come around every day. Keep building around him and find the right solutions to maximize this Carles Gil era.

I want to end on a high note: Earlier this season, Carles Gil scored an incredible goal at D.C. United – curling home a finessed shot into the top corner. It was a reminder that Carles Gil will have a say in any game he plays in, even if his team is struggling. No matter the match, Carles Gil will create a few chances where someone should score or he’ll get a goal himself. He still has that MVP-quality spark.

Will we see that this weekend against Messi and Miami? I think so. Ballers like him are built different with their technique, their vision and their game-changing ability.