Scott French checks in with 16-year-old Luis Gil, the former U.S. U-17 star now with Real Salt Lake, which is patiently preparing him to break into MLS. The Southern Californian, a technically gifted playmaker with uncommon vision, could be the best No. 10 this country has produced.
Gil impressed at last year's FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria, where he was the Americans' youngest and best player, and he's a key part of the under-18 team that will form the under-20 team that hopes to compete at the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia.
Gil's approach to the game comes from his father, Auriliano, who played semipro soccer in his native Mexico and might have gone further had his family had enough money for him to do so. "My daddy don't help me," Auriliano Gil, who grew up in Guerrero state, near Acapulco. "I want to play professional. My daddy, he say no, you need to work."
Luis was 8 when he joined Pateadores, a Yorba Linda-based club that has alumni on the U.S. 30-man World Cup preliminary roster (midfielder Maurice Edu) and starring in MLS (New England goalkeeper Matt Reis and Philadelphia defender Danny Califf). At Real Salt Lake, there's no pressure on him to do anything big any time soon -- one of the lessons of Freddy Adu's teenage struggles is that there's a right way and a wrong way to develop players -- and if Gil is to become the player many believe he can become, then he can't skip any steps in his development.