FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Revolution head coach and sporting director Bruce Arena has led some sublimely-talented attacking players during his storied club-and-country career, and his latest stop is no exception.
Spanish midfielder Carles Gil, the Revolution’s only Designated Player, is an “exceptional attacking player” according to Arena. He added that while “no two players are alike,” the left-footed Gil reminds him somewhat of Marco Etcheverry, the Bolivian lynchpin of Arena’s D.C. United teams.
Forward Teal Bunbury said that Gil “wants to be on the ball if he’s got four or five guys around him” and seldom loses possession.
“It helps me in knowing when to make my runs,” Bunbury said. “He’ll find us.”
That partnership has proven fruitful, as Gil found Bunbury with a defense-splitting pass for what turned out to be the game-winning goal in Arena’s sideline debut for the Revolution, a 2-1 decision over the LA Galaxy back on June 2.
Gil said through a translator that the game plan against the Galaxy arrived via film study.
“I knew where the space was going to be so I could create and the team was ready and knew what spots to be in so that we could exploit that versus the Galaxy,” Gil said.
On the Revolution’s first goal, Gil used a nifty scoop-flick pass through a trio of defenders to play Cristian Penilla into the space that created the opening strike.
“It’s easier when we have guys like Teal and Penilla with the pace that they have,” Gil said. “When I get the ball in spots where I can spring them forward.”
Gil, who leads the team with four goals and four assists, isn't limited to creating and converting goal-scoring chances. He has played every minute of every league match this season and often tracks back in defense, which isn’t lost on his teammates.
“He works his tail off, too, it’s not just the stuff on the ball,” Bunbury said. “Off the ball, he’s running around, he’s pressing, which you love to see in any type of player.”
The 26-year-old, who played in Spain and England prior to MLS, also draws his fair share of fouls and knocks. Gil said he watches film to see how teams disrupt play so he can react to it.
“When I get to that spot, I need to play the ball quick, one or two touches, and get out knowing that the pressure is coming or that I am going to get kicked,” Gil said.