Real Salt Lake and Club Tijuana played out to a rain-soaked, 1-1 draw in a mid-August club friendly at Rio Tinto Stadium Tuesday night. Yawn. Who cares, right? The World Cup is a distant memory, and as such so should all mentions of soccer on the Internet should summarily cease, no?
Regardless, RSL’s 88th-minute equalizer from Luis Gil is worth caring about, if you’re a U.S. Soccer fan already thinking about the 2018 World Cup on the distant (diiiiiissssstant) horizon. Granted the video of the goal doesn’t provide multiple angles, but the flick to himself and ensuing rocket into the upper 90 is pretty damn slick.
The 20-year-old Californian has made one appearance at the senior level for the U.S., playing in the February, MLS-based friendly with South Korea. Gil’s name should become more familiar with soccer fans, both casual and obsessive, over the next four years.
In semi-related news, Tuesday the USSF announced a year-end friendly in Dublin against the Republic of Ireland. The U.S. also has a date in early September vs. the Czech Republic. It’ll be curious to see if Jurgen Klinsmann starts ushering in a new wave of players like Gil, phasing out 2014 veterans or will the core of the team remain intact until 2018 CONCACAF qualifying resumes, in earnest, toward the end of 2015.
There’s also the centenary Copa America to be played in 2016 on U.S. soil . You’d figure Klinsmann would still want to have his best-available team for those games, meaning aging veterans Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, etc. will still firmly be in the mix, making it a little more challenging for youngsters like Gil to force their way into the National Team set-up. Either way, the more players like Gil the U.S. has coming up through the ranks either in MLS, Liga MX, Europe or whereever, the better for the U.S. given that competition generally lifts the level of play across the board.
As of yet, there’s been no word on a testimonial/farewell match for Landon Donovan. I’m guessing Mexico would love to square off against him one more time. Let’s make it happen.