USMNT / World Cup

Possible future national team star

Luis Gil

Luis Gil, who recently played quite well in the U-17 World Cup, has decided to sign with MLS. Although Kansas City got him in a lottery earlier today, he has special considerations in his contract that could take him to Seattle, Real Salt Lake, or possibly another team. After hearing news that Arsenal and Real Madrid were interested in bringing him into their youth systems, I was surprised that MLS was able to sign Gil. After watching him play I was convinced that he had a great deal of ball control, dribbling skills, and strong passing. I think that he has shown the same skill level of Freddy Adu at a similar age. If he can develop his game and keep a proper attitude, then he could be a great asset to the Full Men’s team in the future.

He was 16 last year during the U-17 World Cup and he looked smaller than his opponents. I thought that it was a good sign that Gil found success through skill rather than through speed and strength.

Obviously it is far too early to be certain that Luis Gil will develop into a strong player in the future. However, he has shown enough that with proper development he could be a great creative playmaker for the National Team in the future. Gil like many of our most impressive young talents has foreign roots. He is reportedly looking into getting Mexican citizenship, which he can get through his parents. Let’s hope that he doesn’t decide to play for Mexico. At the same time from the little I have read about him, he sounds like he considers himself to be an American. I think that getting a Mexican passport is simply a way for him to expand his professional options.

The citizenship issue may be moot though if he doesn’t have a chance to develop. This brings me to the issue of how MLS can develop a player like Luis Gil. Some of you may already know that MLS disbanded the reserve league for this coming year. So if Luis Gil is not ready to start in MLS, and I very much doubt that he is, when will he play?

Short of some sort of loan option, Luis Gil would be limited in his options. After checking most teams’ websites, I saw that many teams appear to have at least two US Academy teams and a USL Super 20 League team or a PDL (Premier Development League) team. The PDL is another USL league similar to the regional Super 20 leagues, but is considered more competitive. Other teams have different set ups. For instance Toronto FC has a development team in the Canadian Soccer League, and Philadelphia Union has linked up with Reading United AC, which has both a PDL and a Super 20 League team. We will have to wait to see how Philadelphia Union reserve players will fit into Reading United AC.

Of the three teams that appear to have the highest chance of getting Luis Gil after MLS negotiations, none appear to have either a PDL or Super-20 League team. While the Kansas City Wizards and the Seattle Sounders appear to have US Development Academy teams, Real Salt Lake does not. This comes after checking the USL club rosters for the PDL and the Super 20 League in addition to the US Development Academy club rosters. The official team websites also seem to support this conclusion. Of course it is also possible that these teams have PDL or Super 20 League affiliates like the Philadelphia Union. Based on this information I really hope that Luis Gil is able to get onto an MLS team with at least an U-18 Development Academy team, but more hopefully a Super 20 League or PDL team. I am not sure how the affiliate teams will mesh with MLS reserve players.

The U-16 and U-18 Academy teams play in the US Academy league, which I believe was carved out of the USL youth leagues. I am also not sure who exactly directs the US Academy Leagues, but US Soccer appears to have a major influence.

What I do know is that these leagues are supposed to be made up of the top youth teams in the country by region.  For instance the Mid-Atlantic Division of the East Conference has the DC United U-18 team and FC Delco, a famous Pennsylvania team, along with other Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania teams. Amongst all the various regions there are currently 77 teams represented in the US Academy Leagues.

The Super 20 league is regional like the US Academy league and for players 20 and under. The PDL is an under 23 league, and states that it is the 4th tier of American soccer behind, MLS, and the first two USL Divisions. The MLS reserves will most likely be playing in either the Super 20 league or the PDL. Of course the U-18 Academy team might also be a decent starting point for Luis Gil because the U-17 National team plays teams in this league.

None of these options seem to contain the same level of competition that Luis Gil would have seen in the MLS Reserve League. I also don’t think that these leagues will provide Luis Gil with opposition similar to the leagues that the Arsenal or Madrid youth teams play in. At the same time it might be better for Luis Gil to stay close to home until he is ready to live abroad. Landon Donovan for instance had a terrible time playing in Germany at a young age. In addition Luis Gil is still so young that he might be out of contract and ready to move to Europe at 19 or 20. Hopefully Luis Gill will be able to develop properly in the US without the MLS reserve league. He will also find it easier to participate in the US National youth teams if he is located in the US. We’ll have to see what happens. Let me know what you think.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *