FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It was Carles Gil who expertly dispatched the match-winning penalty in Saturday night’s 2-1 win over Atlanta United FC, but the New England Revolution captain was quick to credit one of his teammates for what turned out to be a prophetic piece of advice.
Gil recalled a Friday afternoon conversation with Matt Turner, who offered a bit of perspective as a goalkeeper who had seen Gil drill his last two penalties straight down the middle.
“It’s kind of funny, because yesterday I was talking with Matt Turner and we talked a little bit about that,” Gil said of stepping up to the spot against Brad Guzan, a former teammate of his at Aston Villa. “The last two penalties that I took, I kind of put towards the center. He told me, ‘Hey, don’t do that again. Don’t do that for the next one.’ I paid attention to his advice, and honestly that goal I kind of have to give credit to Matt.”
While ever-so-humble in crediting Turner for the successful penalty – which he hit hard to the lower right corner while Guzan stayed central – Gil starred in a virtuoso performance on Saturday night, registering 93 touches (his sixth-highest total since joining the Revs) and completing a game-high five key passes.
Gil also provided the primary assist on Brandon Bye’s goal to open the scoring – cutting inside to clip a perfectly-placed, right-footed cross onto his teammate’s head – marking the fifth time in his Revolution career that he bagged both a goal and an assist in the same game.
“We all know Carles, the capabilities he has on the ball and the vision he has,” said Bye. “He gets the ball, gets it onto his right foot actually, gets his head up and sees me. I think it was a recycled corner kick or free kick or something like that. I was up the field and able to just get in front of my defender.
“Whenever he gets on the ball, all I always think is just run, because you know he can find you and he can deliver the final pass. So I made the run, and he was able to put it right on top of my head. It’s all credit to him. And obviously he finds the (game-winning) goal. Definitely a big-time player and he’s always shown that.”
With teammate Gustavo Bou sidelined by a minor muscle injury, Gil shifted into a central role as the Revs moved to more of a 4-2-3-1 setup, as opposed to the 4-4-2 they’d played in the first two matches. But head coach Bruce Arena pointed out that Gil always has the freedom to roam in the attacking third regardless of the formation, and it speaks volumes that on a night when Gil was utterly dominant, Arena saw something of a typical performance from the midfield maestro.
“He played very well,” Arena said. “I’m not sure if he brought it up a notch. That’s how Carles plays. He’s a very good player. He’s, in my opinion, one of the elite players in the league.”
At the moment, Gil is also captain of one of the league’s elite teams, with New England currently alone atop the Eastern Conference standings on seven points. They’ll look to build upon their unbeaten start next weekend when they visit Nashville SC, a team they played to a pair of draws in 2020.
“We knew we had to start the season well – we didn’t do that last year,” said Gil. “Now, we’re focused on preparing for Nashville and to come away with three points in that game.”