The presumptive Landon Donovan MLS MVP frontrunner subbed on in the 66th minute of Friday night’s 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Union, marking the league assist leader’s (15 total) return from a muscle injury that necessitated rehab in his native Spain.
But Gil re-joined his teammates for training on Monday in Foxborough, giving the Supporters’ Shield leaders a boost as they chase silverware during their potential record-breaking 2021 season. The Revs, with 10 regular-season games left to play, clock in at 2.17 points per game, slightly better than LAFC’s 2.12 PPG pace from the 2019 campaign.
Head coach Bruce Arena has the luxury of not rushing Gil into the starting XI, especially since they hold a 14-point lead atop the Eastern Conference standings.
“We’re just going to slowly move him forward,” Arena said. “We'll see how he recovers from this. In the next month, he'll be back at full speed, but we'll take it slowly.”
Gil, speaking postgame, acknowledged that he’s not quite back to his old levels. But as training sessions accumulate ahead of next Saturday’s home rematch against New York City FC and beyond (7 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+), the Designated Player will get there.
“I need to train more with the team, to get more minutes,” Gil said. “Maybe I’m 50, 60 percent, but maybe in one or two weeks, I will be good.”
Gil subbed on with the Revs reduced to 10 men after midfielder Arnor Traustason was shown a second yellow card in the 59th minute, resulting in his sending off. But he still expertly sprung left back DeJuan Jones forward in the 75th minute, leading to an over-the-bar miss from Scott Caldwell that would have doubled New England’s advantage. And Gil had a look of his own in the 82nd minute, only to be denied by Philly goalkeeper Joe Bendik on the counter-attack.
“It was difficult with 10 players,” Gil said. “We defended very good and we know we are a team with good character in these difficult moments. We know defense and to be together, so it’s a very important win.”
Now, Gil is focused on avoiding another setback and fueling the Revolution's stretch run. His return from injury in 2020 helped ignite an Eastern Conference Final appearance, leaving New England hoping for a similar lift this go-around.
"Carles is a guy that kind of brings a spark to this team," goalscorer and midfielder Matt Polster said. "He’s arguably the best player in the league. So, when you have that kind of talent that you can, you know, we went a stretch without him and did really well. Now, we can implement him back into the team and that’s going to help us toward the end of this year and help guide us a little bit, and get three points on a consistent basis, which we have shown previously anyway.