Orlando City SC improved its roster depth a few days ago when the club signed 23-year-old midfielder Luis Gil to a loan contract from Mexican side Querétaro FC. The former Real Salt Lake man joins an already crowded midfielder, which leads us to one question: how can he help the team make the playoffs for the first time?
“I am trying to be that type of player who covers a lot of ground and makes the game easier for Kaká, when he comes back, and Cyle. Just making it easier for them, that’s my job,” Gil said on a video released by the club following the announcement of his signing.
Ready for this opportunity! Let's get to work ⚽️ https://t.co/jIJEAsbYLb— Luis Gil (@Luisitogil_10) April 6, 2017
Even though his answer summarizes the situation pretty well, it is also important to take a quick tour of Gil’s career in order to understand how he can contribute. In his six years playing for Real Salt Lake before he moved to Mexico, the attacking midfielder amassed 134 appearances (89 starts) with 11 goals and nine assists. He also played for the U.S. U-17, U-18, U-20, and U-23 teams, recording 15 goals in 61 matches.
His most productive year so far was 2013, when he scored five goals and had three assists in 30 matches (24 starts). This performance earned him the No. 2 spot in MLS’s 24 Under 24 list. On the video below, you can see some of the goals he scored and hear the evaluations of two very familiar faces about him at that time.
Arguably, the fact that he worked for a long time under Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis (and had some success with him) in Salt Lake City is reassuring. No one knows Gil better than the Lions’ gaffer and he certainly has a plan in place to make the most of the player’s skills.
“Having a good relationship with Jason Kreis helps out a lot. He’s someone who believes in me and I believe in his work as well,” Gil commented.
During his time in Real Salt Lake, Gil was mostly used in the central area of the field, both as an attacking midfielder or as a central midfielder. It’s important to remember, though, that Kreis had RSL playing in a 4-4-2 diamond, a system that’s considerably different from the 4-4-2- flat formation he has Orlando operating this season.
This formation “excludes” the No. 10 position, one of Gil’s possible spots on the field. He could eventually play as a center midfielder alongside Will Johnson to make the team more offensive and to improve its passing accuracy. I don’t think we would see that on a regular basis, though, as the Lions have some other great options for this role, as Antonio Nocerino, Cristian Higuita and Servando Carrasco.
Gil was never a winger in his career but he can be used on both sides of the field as well. He’s a smart player, who possesses good passing skills and a reasonable pace and could be brought off the bench to help in this role as well, if needed.
The position I can see the Lions’ new addition being more effective, though, is as a second forward. Gil is a fearless player, who likes to operate inside the box and, even though his finishing skills could be better, he can score even on headers. The young player could be a good option to play underneath Cyle Larin up front.
I don’t see Luis Gil being a difference maker to Orlando or even getting himself a starting job with the club. However, I think that the offensive midfielder, who will wear the No. 17, can be extremely useful to the Lions by filling multiple holes in the lineup during the long and exhausting MLS season.
He signed that paper and now Luis is ready to 'cover ground' on the pitch. ✍ #NeverHuntAlone pic.twitter.com/GcauSlm2bF— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) April 6, 2017