Revolution

In appreciation of Carles Gil's special debut season with the Revs

In appreciation of Carles Gil's special debut season with the Revs

Some people may not have known who Carles Gil was at the start of the season, but they do now. Major League Soccer named Gil the Newcomer of the Year Wednesday, capping an outstanding first regular season in New England.

When the New England Revolution acquired Gil — in what was then a club-record transfer from Deportivo de La Coruña — nobody knew exactly what to expect from him.

Yes, he was a Designated Player signing. Yes, he played in La Liga and the English Premier League. Yes, he was just 26 years old and coming from Spain's second division.

Admittedly, I didn't know much more about him when news broke of his move to New England on January 30. So what do you do when you need info? You google it. A YouTube video pops up. I saw a stunning strike for Aston Villa in the FA Cup a few seasons ago. Great. Cool. Nice. The Revs got a young talented player with top-flight experience and a highlight reel goal on the web. But what did that really mean for Gil and the Revs? Nobody could answer that question.

Fast forward to today. Gil is one of four MLS players this season with double-digit goals and assists. Only one player — in historic fashion — had more combined goals and primary assists in 2019. LAFC's Carlos Vela, who is a lock to win MLS MVP, had a record-breaking goal-scoring season on a record-breaking team. In any other season, Gil may have been in the mix for more than just the award for the best debut season in MLS.

I wonder what Gil's MVP candidacy would be with a full season of Gustavo Bou on the roster, but La Pantera has only 14 games with the Spaniard.  

Gil's ability to score and create goals might be matched by his durability. He started all 34 matches this season with a target on his back. Just 2 players in the league suffered more fouls this season than the Revs midfielder. Hack-a-Gil did not work.

Carles still scored. Carles still assisted. Carles still played. He was subbed off just once and missed a grand total of eight whole minutes. 

His production was impressive, but so was his leadership on the field. Gil earned the captain's arm band in May shortly after the Revs shook up the coaching staff and front office, and he never looked back.

He's been the team's captain for the final 23 matches of the season en route to the team's first playoff berth since 2015, all while leading the team in both goals and assists. That's an achievent taller than Tacko Fall for any player, let alone a newcomer from Valencia, Spain, who had to adjust to a new league, a new country, and a new culture. 

I'll take Gil's goals, assists, and leadership seven days a week and twice on matchday. Those are all great. But what makes him so different from other talented players is the one thing he does to help his team win — everything.

Gil will do it all. He will do the dirty work. He will track back. He will defend. He will get down and dirty. He's a shark on the field who wants the ball at all times. And if he doesn't have it, then he'll go get it.

The relentless midfielder led the league in possessions won in the final-third. The next closest player had just over half as many. And If you couldn't take the ball away from him, he would make you pay for it. No other player had more successful passes ending in the final-third. He's dangerous in dangerous spots. And if he wasn't either of those, he would find a way to make sure he was. Mwah. Me gusta Carles Gil.

Sporting Director and Head Coach Bruce Arena wasn't quite as affectionate when speaking about Gil this week, but he sure was just as complimentary.

"To have a player with that kind of quality on your team is great. He's an excellent passer and he can score goals. He can defend, which often you don't see that out of players that play the kind of role he plays. He keeps the ball. He's a very good possession player as well. He does whatever the game asks of him. If that means tracking back into the defensive third, he does that. You rarely see that with a player of Carles' caliber. He's got a great mentality to be a team player as well as being an extremely talented player." 

It's been 259 days since the Revs added Gil and I finally learned what his addtion means: The Revs made the biggest offseason move in MLS and I am head over heels for Carles Gil. 

Five reasons Revs can beat Atlanta United FC>>>>>

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Revolution Classics: Lee Nguyen scores two goals vs. his former team

Revolution Classics: Lee Nguyen scores two goals vs. his former team

With no MLS games for the foreseeable future, NBC Sports Boston will give New England Revolution fans a chance to get their fix by re-airing some classic games. On Saturday, we'll take a look back at Lee Nguyen's two-goal performance against the Vancouver Whitecaps, who waived him earlier in the 2012 season.

In March 2012, the Vancouver Whitecaps opted to part ways with midfielder Lee Nguyen. That decision came back to bite them two months later.

On May 13, a 25-year-old Nguyen got his revenge as a member of the New England Revolution. Nguyen scored two goals and notched an assist against his former team to propel the Revs to a thrilling 4-1 victory. Those two goals also happened to be Nguyen's first two MLS scores.

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Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Boston, you'll have a chance to relive Nguyen's sensational performance. Here's how to tune in:

How to Watch

NBC Sports Boston will be re-airing this match on Saturday, June 6 at 7 p.m. ET. You can watch on TV on NBC Sports Boston, or stream the action via NBCSportsBoston.com.

Revs return to training as Major League Soccer lifts restrictions

Revs return to training as Major League Soccer lifts restrictions

There's still a long way to go before games are played, but June 4 has been a good day so far for sports fans clamoring for leagues to return to action.

Not only did the NBA and NHL both announce plans for playoff formats, MLS lifted the team training moratorium that began on March 12. Teams may now submit individual club plans for full team training, which must be approved by the club's medical staff and local infectious disease experts before MLS approves those plans.

While full team training will be mandatory, the Revs held voluntary small group training at the team's training facility Thursday. Revs in attendance included Matt Turner, Teal Bunbury, Andrew Farrell, Adam Buksa, Scott Caldwell, Diego Fagundez, and Carles Gil.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

"This has been a very difficult time with COVID-19 and the Governor has done a remarkable job in dealing with the safety and welfare of the citizens in Massachusetts," said Revolution Sporting Director and Head Coach Bruce Arena. "The state and local authorities have been outstanding. In a perfect world, we would have preferred to be on the field earlier, but we completely understand the issues involved and safety first."

“I most definitely think the Revolution organization and MLS have created an environment where I feel safe and the rest of the player pool feels safe," Bunbury added. "They’ve taken every measure. Our athletic trainer and fitness coaches have really been on top of everything, so it’s helpful for us knowing we want to continue to push ourselves, but also knowing that we’re staying safe.”

Small group training is a good first step back for the Revs, but everyone knows that there's a long way to go before the league can hold a tournament in the Orlando area later this summer.

"We’re not in touch with the other players because we’re not allowed to pass balls to each other, we’re not allowed to speak with each other so it’s a little different than it was in the beginning of the year," said Buksa. "But it’s very important that we have a chance to train on our pitches."

“It’s very different. It’s a very awkward protocol. I think it’s safe, well over-the-top, but as I mentioned with what the Governor has done, the league has done the same thing," Arena said. "They’re very cautious about not having teams jump into full training too soon. It’s safety first. We’re being smart about it. It’s a safe environment for the players, and that’s our number one priority.”

While safety might be the Revs' number one priority, increasing their fitness level is close behind, especially considering it's been almost three months since their last game.

“I think fitness-wise, I don’t think we’re game-fit yet. None of us," Fagundez said. "It’s hard to be game-fit when you’re at home for a month and a half and you’re not on the field playing around with your teammates. It’s two different kinds of fitness. We’re trying to get there. We’re building that. I know we can get there. It’s going to take a little bit of time. With the time we have right now until the season starts, I think we’re good to go.” 

For Gil, the extended break gave him a chance to heal his injured foot which had kept him out of the preseason and the team's first two games of the season.

“Yes, it’s been good in the sense that my foot was able to recover," said Gil, "and I have a very good feeling that I’ll be able to be physical and put in hard work to find out if I’m 100 percent.”