Luis Gil Excited About Move to Liga MX Side Queretaro
December 29, 2015
HE SIGNED a Generation Adidas contract with Major League Soccer in 2010 at 16. He’s been a key component of U.S. youth national teams at every level. He received his first senior cap in February 2014 and has made 134 appearances for Real Salt Lake.
It's easy to forget that Luis Gil today is still only 22 years old.
The Garden City, Calif., native last week completed his transfer to Liga MX side Queretaro FC, departing Real Salt Lake after having accrued more first-team professional minutes by his 21st birthday than any other American player in history. In 2015, though, his playing time took a serious hit; like the veteran he already was, Gil quickly saw the need for a change.
“I think MLS was a great move. I don’t think you should downgrade it at all,” Gil told American Soccer Now from Mexico. “It’s a really good place to start your career. It obviously takes patience. I came in when I was 16, so I had to be more patient with Jason [Kreis]. He wanted to take it easy on me. That was a big part of my career, just being patient and taking it step by step to grow as a player. Last year wasn’t what I wanted, so that is why in the back of my mind thinking to make a move that was best for my career.”
Queretaro—with which Gil signed a three-year deal—finished 11th in the 2015 Apertura but has had recent success elsewhere, advancing to the final of the Clausura earlier in the year and reaching the quarterfinals of the current iteration of the CONCACAF Champions League.
But perhaps looming larger than that success for Gil was the presence of head coach Víctor Manuel Vucetich, who had inquired about Gil’s availability on multiple occasions while coaching Monterrey. “I felt that really was one of the big points—where it kind of made my decision easy,” Gil said of the opportunity to play for Vucetich.
With Gil now fully involved in preseason, Queretaro will open the Clausura on Jan. 8 when it hosts Atlas. Should he get off to a good run of form, it would be welcome news not just for Queretaro and Gil himself but also for the U.S. U-23 side, which is a decisive underdog in its Olympic 2016 qualifying playoff against Colombia in March.
“It’s going to be a difficult task to get through,” said Gil, one of only a handful of American players who showed well at October’s CONCACAF qualifying tournament. “We never said it was going to be easy, even during the first round of qualifying. It’s never going to be handed to you. So we just have to go out there and take care of business.”
Getting off to a good start south of the border will be crucial. But is it realistic?
“Liga MX is not so much fast-paced, but the ball does move a lot faster, and guys are thinking quicker,” Gil said. “So it’s not about movements—it’s about more where the ball is traveling and guys thinking about things ahead of time. Obviously for me it is going to be a little bit difficult. All the guys around me are quality players, and they’re not going to let down easily.
“That is going to push me as a player to my limits. That will get the best out of me.”
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Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.