Sandy • In his slow, uncomfortable walk off the field inside all-too-familiar Sporting Park, it was clear Luis Gil was hampered. It was April 5, and the 20-year-old attacking midfielder considered a massive part of Real Salt Lake's present and its future had put on a shining performance the previous week against Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe and Toronto FC. RSL railroaded the TFC 3-0 in front of Jurgen Klinsmann. Gil scored a goal.
The U.S. men's national team coach took notice, calling in Gil, along with RSL staples Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando and Tony Beltran for the April 2 friendly against Mexico in Arizona. Gil's momentum was rolling. He'd spent a month with the USMNT in a dry run at this summer's World Cup, impressing to make his first career senior team appearance during a 2-0 win over South Korea on Feb. 1 in Carson, Calif.
But the return trip to Sporting Kansas City, the site of RSL's 2013 MLS Cup final loss, dealt something new. It was injury. It was a test. Gil exited the eventual 0-0 draw with a leg injury, one that would keep him sidelined until May 17. It forced him to miss an inaugural pre-Olympic U.S. U-21 training camp in late April.