FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Revolution captain Carles Gil believes valuable lessons have been learned from the club’s 2023 campaign.
The Revs suffered a frustrating end to a promising year with an early exit from the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, falling at the Round One stage at the hands of previous runners-up Philadelphia Union.
With the Revolution having started the year brightly, standing as Supporters’ Shield contenders through spring and early summer, off-field disruptions and coaching changes during the second half of the season sadly hampered hopes of success.
Reflecting on an unfortunate and underwhelming conclusion to the campaign, skipper Gil could not hide his disappointment and hurt not to have mounted a stronger challenge for silverware, but asserts the talent and togetherness within the roster stands the squad in good stead for a new era in the New Year.
“Obviously, after the loss, it’s a disappointing end to the season,” he admitted. “It was a difficult season – many things happened outside the pitch, difficult moments.
“During the moments that everything was normal, we were in a good position – second position in the league, winning the second game in the new [Leagues Cup] tournament – and then when everything happened, it was different.
“We tried to take all of these things off our minds, but it’s not easy. Everyone is disappointed. We had a good opportunity this year to make an important thing, but it didn’t happen.
“The playoffs are the moment you are waiting all the season for to be ready. After losing, in the locker room with everyone, we didn’t feel we were in the right moment. Everyone knows that in the last two months, our results were very bad, also our performances – but you’re still thinking: ‘Maybe in the right moment, we’ll be ready.’
“It’s difficult. If you are coming from two difficult months, it’s difficult to change that in two games.”
As captain of the team, Gil shouldered the responsibility of guiding the squad through transition periods and tough moments.
Earning praise from his peers, staff, fans and media for his leadership qualities, the playmaker was named the club’s MVP and Players’ Player of the Year for the third time in his five seasons. Though he concedes there were testing times with so much uncertainty, he was pleased to see his players pull together in solidarity.
“It’s always difficult,” he added. “It’s not my first time when I have had a difficult season with a different coach, but it had been a normal way to change the coach.
“We tried to do our best. In the locker room, everyone knows me as a captain. They know that many times, I try to be focused on our team, on everyone, on the players.
“It’s never easy. It’s not just me – we have good players and leaders with many years at the club. They know everything very well.
“Sometimes, we didn’t do what we needed on the pitch but this year, when everything was on the right way, we showed we were a very good team – in second place – and everything changed.
“As a team, we had a very good first half of the season. When everything was right and normal, we showed we had that mentality. I remember when we were in second position, we never looked behind – we never looked at Orlando [City SC], we looked at FC Cincinnati. We tried to go there [to the top] but after what happened, it was more difficult, and the reality was different.
“Sometimes, these things happen. We tried to continue winning games but as we saw on the pitch, in the end, it was the same team. We are obviously sad and disappointed.
“Although it doesn’t show it on the field, I learned that in the difficult moments, in the locker room, we stayed together. We tried to be in the same way, we tried to win games. It didn’t happen but sometimes you learn more from difficult moments, and hopefully we can learn from it in the future.
“[Going forward, we have to] win, be champions of this league. This club deserves that. If you think of all of the teams, maybe we are in the top five best teams with these two seasons. Maybe in the last four, five years, if you think about what this club did, we were in the Conference Final, we had the best regular season ever – there are positive things you can continue.
“The important thing is to be champions and it’s never happened here. Obviously, that’s the goal.”