CHESTER, Pa. – As the New England Revolution closed out a gutsy 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union with 10 men on Friday night, an essential member of the squad made his return for the final 24 minutes of the match.
Playmaker Carles Gil missed six games due to a muscle injury as he rehabbed in Spain, and his 66th-minute appearance off the bench was his first time appearing in a Revolution game since July 31.
“I feel good,” Gil said postgame. “I’m really happy to be back. Of course, it’s my first game after only three training sessions, so obviously I’m not fit. It was not the best moment, because with 10 players, more distance, it was more difficult. But yes, I feel good and I’m very happy to get three points.”
After Arnór Traustason was ejected due to a pair of yellow cards, Gil came on to preserve the lead and add quality in the midfield to better control the match, logging one shot on target.
Head coach Bruce Arena gave Gil specific instructions entering the game.
“[His message was] to keep the ball, to try to pass the time, try to find one moment to create some chances,” said Gil. “I had one against the goalkeeper. But yeah, it was difficult with 10 players. We defended very good and we know we are a team with good character in these difficult moments. We know defense and to be together, so it’s a very important win.”
While Gil had a solid 24-minute shift, he still has a ways to go before playing a full 90 minutes.
“[Carles Gil] played 25 minutes tonight,” said Arena. “We're just going to slowly move him forward. We'll see how he recovers from this. In the next month, he'll be back at full speed, but we'll take it slowly.”
While the coaching staff is being cautious by easing Gil back as he increases his fitness, the captain’s boost was immediate as he reunited with his teammates in Foxborough last Monday.
“Carles is a guy that kind of brings a spark to this team,” said Matt Polster, who scored the game's only goal on Friday night. “He’s arguably the best player in the league. So, when you have that kind of talent that you can, you know, we went a stretch without him and did really well.”
“He’s a great player, brings a calm to everybody,” said Brandon Bye. “He’s someone you can give a ball to and you know he’s going to keep it and draw a foul, he’s going to make a killer pass, whatever it is.”
While the team went 4-1-1 without their captain for a month, they know having him return healthy provides a boost heading into the final 10 games of the season.
“Now, we can implement [Gil] back into the team and that’s going to help us toward the end of this year and help guide us a little bit, and get three points on a consistent basis, which we have shown previously anyway,” said Polster. “It’s nice to have him back. Everybody’s happy.
“[Gil] brings a spark to the group that not many players can do. I’m extremely happy he’s back.”