A year ago, Revolution captain Carles Gil was struggling with an Achilles’ injury, for which he had surgery last April in Spain and did not completely recover until October. Gil returned in time to spark a Revolution playoff run, as the team reached its eighth Eastern Conference final and first since 2014.
Now, Gil appears ready to go as the Revolution prepare for their 26th season.
“So far I find myself in a good place both physically and mentally,” Gil said Tuesday from the Revolution’s training facility in Foxborough. “We’re only two days in, but we’re starting to feel good after being away for so long. It won’t be easy, but I feel good. I think we all want to win a trophy. Last year we came close and we’re trying to exceed that. I think that should be our goal.”
The Revolution tried several players in Gil’s position last season, but the attack mostly stalled until playoff time, when Gil combined with Gustavo Bou, Tajon Buchanan, and Adam Buksa to get the offense in gear.
Gil’s combination of skill and tactical awareness brought out the best in the Revolution, as it had in 2019, his first year with the team.
“My principal quality isn’t speed, it’s finding players in space,” Gil said. “We have a lot of players who are very fast. I think in this case my role is to try and understand when I can put the ball in space for those players to create danger against the opponent, and to possess the ball. This is a league that moves very fast from one side to the other, so it’s important to have that time to calm ourselves down and organize ourselves.”
At 5 feet 7 inches, 145 pounds, Gil appeared to be among the Revolution’s most vulnerable players when he joined the team. But he withstood some rough treatment from opposing defenders and proved to be the team’s most valuable player.
“I’m on record saying that I think we have, if not the top player in MLS, one of the top players in MLS,” Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner said of Gil. “You saw what he meant to our team down the stretch last year. He’s a guy that produces day in and day out and I’m not just talking about in the games when the lights are on. He comes to training every day, he works hard and he’s a great example for the younger guys on the team that he’s a product of hard work.
“So having him as our captain as somebody that we rely on to produce, his attitude is just awesome. And I’m really happy that he’s on our team because I wouldn’t want to be playing against him.”
The Revolution hope to regain their momentum when the season starts April 17. All 11 starters return from the conference final game, a 1-0 loss to the Columbus Crew. Among the newcomers added by sporting director/head coach Bruce Arena is Cameroonian Wilfrid Kaptoum, a former rival of Gil’s in Spain who is expected to combine with him in midfield.
“I’m sure he’s going to bring a lot,” Gil said of Kaptoum. “He’s a very dynamic player. I think he can help us and hopefully he can. Last year we showed that we have a very competitive team and I think that if we add good players to this group we can do great things.
“I think the club has grown a lot over the past few years with the arrival of someone as great in the American soccer world as Bruce. I think every player that comes here will be happy. We have a team that’s getting better. The expectations are high. Bruce is a winner. He wants to win wherever he goes and we all share that mentality.”