Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil was named to MLSsoccer.com’s 24 under 24 list on Friday, placing second on the site’s annual ranking of top MLS players under the age of 24.
Gil – who came in at No. 14 on last year’s 24 under 24 list – is one of two RSL players on this year’s countdown, joining forward Olmes Garcia, who was ranked 19th.
A Southern California native, Gil has taken a big leap forward in 2013, scoring five goals and notching three assists in MLS play and starring at the FIFA U-20 World Cup for the U.S. Under-20 side. Gil’s five goal output this year eclipses his career total entering this season and his three assists match his career assist mark entering 2013.
Click here for the full 24 under 24 rankings
2. Luis Gil
Pos: M | Real Salt Lake | Age: 19
You think Sporting Kansas City would like to take back that trade in 2010? The RSL midfielder has improved each year since coming over following a weighted lottery for his right, and he's really excelled in 2013 after the departure of Will Johnson opened up a slot for him as a regular starter in Jason Kreis’ lineup. The 19-year-old already has more goals and as many assists as he tallied in his previous two years combined. But more importantly, he’s become a two-way stalwart in the midfield for the Western Conference powerhouse.
What TDs and coaches like: "With Luis, you have a skillful kid – very technical, comfortable with the ball. As a starting point, that’s paramount. ... He’s played a lot of games, both with MLS and in international competition. He’s faced good competition and he’s comfortable with the next level. ... He’s got a good eye. He gets his head up and sees things early. ... This has been a breakout year for him. He did well with the [US] U-20s, and I think that was an important tournament for him. Will Johnson leaving [RSL] allows him to get some consistent starts which I think has buoyed his confidence a little bit. ... He's popped up and scored some good goals. He's good with both feet, he's got a pretty good understanding of the game for a young kid. ... He's added in this year, seemingly from years past, some fitness and an ability to play both ways, which in their diamond midfield you have to be able to do. I don't think he does it as well as Ned Grabavoy or as well as Will Johnson, but he's not far behind, and for a 19-year-old that's pretty good. ... He's better in the air than people give him credit for at 5-9, 5-10. We have to pay attention to him on set pieces."
Where TDs and coaches want improvement: "Where he may lack a little bit is pure pace, but he thinks quickly and plays quickly. That kind of makes up for that. ... The only thing for me might be, what’s his best position? They’ve used him wide, they’ve used him inside, they’ve used him underneath. At this level, it’s still a question of what would be the most effective spot for him on the field. ... He went through inconsistency in a stretch in the middle of the year where he was in and out of the starting lineup because his form was patchy. ... [Holes in his game?] Not that I've seen. You look at both sides of the ball, defend and attack, his movement's good, he can go from right side to left side. For a young player, he's everything you want to see."
Opta Says: Diego Fagundez (12) is the only player under the age of 21 with more goals scored than Luis Gil (6) since the start of 2012.