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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How former Revs midfielder Clyde Simms moved on after kidney disease

How former Revs midfielder Clyde Simms moved on after kidney disease

By the time Clyde Simms was forced to retire from the New England Revolution at age 31, his kidney function was down to about 20 percent.

The reason? Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, also known as FSGS. He was diagnosed with the disease while he was in high school but still managed to have a nine-season career in the MLS — the last two years coming with the Revs.

Simms eventually had to go on dialysis, and after a first kidney transplant failed, he underwent a successful kidney transplant in December 2014. Simms dealt with severe complications along the way, but his lifetime of soccer training paid off in a huge and unexpected way.

"I was in the hospital for an allergic reaction, and unfortunately what I was having a reaction to, they were still pumping into my body so I was getting worse and worse and they just could not figure it out. No one knew," Simms told NBC Sports Boston. "My temperature got up almost to 108 [degrees] and everyone was rushing around the room, throwing ice on me.

"Once it came back down, the doctor came in to talk to me. He said, 'The only reason why you survived — or survived without brain damage — is because you were so fit.' It basically saved my life, and so my passion for fitness grew even more."

What did Simms do with that renewed passion for fitness? He decided to help other people get fit, by co-founding Rev'd Indoor Cycling.

After starting the company in 2004, Rev'd operates in three locations, with three more under construction.

And while Simms says cycling is easier on the body and joints than other exercises like running and cutting, it also provides other benefits, like building a community with other participants.

"There's nothing like going into something with a team, with all like-minded people. You seem them working as hard as you're working, putting in as much effort as you're putting in. I no longer miss that part of it. I obviously miss my old teammates and keep in touch with them, but the fact that I have a good team here helps me to not miss it so much."

For more about on Simms's story, check out the video above or click here. And for more on mental health in sports, check out more Headstrong content on NBCSportsBoston.com or on NBCSports.com.

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Revolution re-sign young defender DeJuan Jones to new deal

Revolution re-sign young defender DeJuan Jones to new deal

The New England Revolution continue to make transactions during a busy off-season. 

The Revs announced Friday they have re-signed 22-year-old defender DeJuan Jones, who will be entering his second MLS season. Jones appeared in 20 games, including 14 starts during his rookie year, notching a goal and an assist while holding down the fort on the back end.

He was drafted 11th overall in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft out of Michigan State University, where he tallied 16 goals and 14 assists over 75 appearances for the Spartans. 

The Jones deal comes after Bruce Arena's squad added highly-experienced left back Alexander Büttner and signed 16-year-old midfielder Damian Rivera to a homegrown player contract. 

But while the Revolution are busy adding players, forward Juan Fernando Caicedo reportedly will be leaving the organization, according to ESPN, after a one-year loan from Independiente Medellin of Colombia. 

After an exciting turnaround that saw the team make the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, more is in store for the rising Revolution. 

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