CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – As if making 54 appearances and 33 starts for one of the top teams in MLS before his 19th birthday wasn’t enough, Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil feels like he has to “prove something” in 2013.
While it’s debatable how much Gil has to prove – those 54 appearances and 33 starts before turning 19 last November speak volumes – he’ll certainly be very busy in 2013. The fourth-year pro is the favorite to fill the starting spot vacated by RSL’s December trade of midfielder Will Johnson to Portland. He’ll also have a full international schedule with the U.S. U-20’s, which need a top-four finish at February’s CONCACAF U-20 Championships to qualify for this summer’s FIFA U-20 World Cup.
“It’s a big year,” said Gil, who arrived at RSL’s preseason camp in Casa Grande on Tuesday night after completing a training camp with the U-20’s. “This is my fourth year with RSL and I feel like now I have to step up and prove something. Obviously I’m still learning as a player, but going into national team camps and stuff like that, it always brings out more confidence in me.”
Gil enjoyed his time with Head Coach Tab Ramos’ U-20’s, training with the team in Puebla, Mexico – the site of February’s CONCACAF U-20 Championships – for a little over a week. Gil will be back with Ramos and his youth national teammates in early February for a pre-CONCACAF tournament camp.
“It’s a good accomplishment, to represent your country,” he said. “We’re preparing for our qualifying coming up next month and it’s definitely a good feeling to be with the team.”
Gil’s solid attitude should serve him well in 2013. The L.A. area native is more committed than ever to improving his game, taking lessons from U-20 camps and applying them when he’s with the Claret-and-Cobalt.
“Going down with kids my age and trying to connect with them, then coming here and starting up with RSL, it gets me back into a rhythm,” he said.
“I’m just looking to get better every single day. I feel like now I’m starting to take every practice seriously. Obviously I always have, but now it’s just at another level.”