The New England Revolution are in the midst of a very impressive run. Entering the postseason as the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed, they have played spoiler twice. After beating ninth seeded Montreal in the play-in round, upsets against top-ranked Philadelphia and the fourth seed, Orlando City, have earned them a spot in the Eastern Conference Final.
Once again, they will be underdogs. The Revolution will travel to Columbus to face off with the third seeded Crew on December 6th.
One thing is for certain: New England would not be in this position without the sparkling play of Carles Gil. The 28-year-old has scored two goals and added three assists in the Revs’ trio of playoff games. Gil’s postseason performance has been good enough for an average FotMob rating of 8.8, and two Shaw’s Man of the Match awards.
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) November 30, 2020
It has not always come easy this year for New England’s number 22. The Spaniard missed most of the season recovering from Achilles surgery that he underwent in August. Luckily for the Revolution, the captain has gotten healthy at exactly the right time.
Carles Gil joined the academy system of his hometown team, Valencia CF, when he was just five years old. Gil started with the Valencia B team in 2009, eventually earning a loan move to Elche CF in 2012. Gil made 66 appearances for the Spanish club over two season, helping them to earn promotion to La Liga in 2012/13.
Gil returned to Valencia for the 2014/15 season, but he made just 11 appearances. In January, he moved to Aston Villa of the English Premier League. Gil made 34 appearances over two seasons for the first team. Gil returned to Spain for the 2016/17 season, as Aston Villa loaned him to Deportivo La Coruña. Gil remained there until January of 2019, when New England signed him as a Designated Player.
In total, Gil made 146 first team appearances in England and Spain before finding a home in New England, scoring ten goals.
MLS Newcomer of the Year
Gil had a phenomenal 2019 season with New England. The playmaker made 36 appearances in all competitions, scoring ten goals and adding 14 assists. Gil’s excellent debut season helped lead the Revs to their first playoff berth since the 2015 season.
In the process he won the MLS Newcomer of the Year award, an honor that has also been claimed by the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimović in the past. Gil was also included in the 2019 MLS best XI. Additionally, he was named the Man of the Year by the Midnight Riders, the Revolution’s main supporters group.
In some ways, the chaos of the 2020 season actually worked in the favor of Carles Gil. Gil suffered his injury in July, and underwent surgery in August. His first game back for the Revs took place on October 23rd. Last year, that date would have coincided with the conference semifinals round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
The Covid delay gave Gil the opportunity to appear in four regular season matches before the playoffs began. Consequently, Gil was able to work off the rust and peak at the right time.
So what exactly does Gil do so well?
For starters, he shows an excellent understanding of how plays develop around him. Gil combines his high soccer IQ with tremendous technical abilities that allow him to pick out passes and take advantage of the reads he makes. This phenomenon was clearly on display for the Revs’ second goal on Sunday.
This whole sequence 😍
— New England Revolution (@NERevolution) November 29, 2020
Gil picked up the ball in his own half, and had plenty of space to run into. Another player might have tried to beat his defender or play an early ball into Adam Buksa. However, Gil understood that an overlapping run from Tajon Buchanan would give New England the numerical advantage. Gil hesitated ever so slightly, and played a perfectly weighted through ball that encouraged Buchanan to hit a first time cross. Adam Buksa hit the post, but Gustavo Bou was there, unmarked, to fire home the rebound.
Not only did Gil correctly read the situation while it was still unfolding, but he utilized his vision and technical ability to make sure the Revs capitalized on the opportunity.
Gil may be underappreciated at the moment, but that is starting to change. His Revolution teammates are certainly aware of how fortunate they are to play alongside him. In his postgame interview, goalkeeper Matt Turner made it clear just how talented Gil is.
"With a healthy Carles Gil, we think we have the best player in MLS." – Matt Turner.#NERevs
— Jeff Lemieux (@jeff_lemieux) November 29, 2020
Athletes love being teammates with players like Gil, because his skill set makes everyone around him better. He can buy time and space for a defense that is under pressure, transition to offense and illuminate the strengths of the attackers around him.
Revolution legend Taylor Twellman made sure to emphasize the importance of Gil when previewing the Orlando City game with Jeff Lemieux. Twellman even said that he could imagine Gil becoming the greatest Revolution player to date if he sticks around long enough and stays healthy.
This is extremely high praise from the 2005 MLS MVP. Twellman knows a thing or two about what it takes to be successful in New England, having scored 109 goals in 190 appearances for the Revs.
Personally, I think Twellman is spot on. Carles Gil is a game changer in the prime of his career. Revolution players are lucky to play with him, and Revolution fans are lucky to be able to watch him.
Now that the Revs are a win away from MLS’ biggest stage, it’s time for the league to take notice of what a special player New England’s captain truly is.
– Andrew Fasciano (@afasc573)