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Real Salt Lake takes chance on another teenager

MLS champs make deal with Wizards for solid prospect

SANDY — The last time Real Salt Lake made a big move for a promising 16-year-old, the experiment failed miserably when the team took Nikolas Besagno with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft.

Under a completely different front-office regime, RSL is ready to take a chance on another teenager.

Real Salt Lake acquired 16-year-old midfielder Luis Gil from Kansas City on Tuesday in exchange for a 2011 second-round draft pick, an international roster slot and 25 percent of any transfer fee RSL receives from a foreign club for Gil in the future.

"Real Salt Lake provides a prime environment for the development of young players," said RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey. "The track record that Jason Kreis and our coaching staff have of nurturing talent is exemplary, and the dream of venturing onto the Rio Tinto Stadium turf will surely inspire Luis to work hard every day in training.

"We have a talented, veteran team, and we have no expectation that any young player will easily crack our championship lineup, though our hope is that Luis is eventually able to earn minutes in the years ahead."

Many believe Gil is a can't-miss prospect.

The Garden Grove, Calif., native was named the 2009 U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year and was approached by European powers such as Arsenal and Real Madrid last summer about signing with them. He opted instead to sign with MLS and made it official last week.

By signing with the league after the MLS SuperDraft, Gil was subject to a weighted lottery, which Kansas City won on Monday. Speculation was that he only wanted to play for Real Salt Lake or Seattle, a hope that became reality on Tuesday.

Gil played in 18 youth national team games in 2009, scoring four goals and registering four assists.

Gil was born in California, but his father is from Mexico, and the Mexican Football Federation aggressively sought his services before he pledged himself to the U.S. National Team.

Real Salt Lake is in the midst of training camp in Casa Grande, Ariz., this week, but Gil won't join the team until next week, when it returns to Utah for a few days before departing to Charleston, S.C., for its next preseason stint.

Brian Gil, the older brother of Luis Gil, played in several reserve games for RSL in 2005 and 2006, but it was only as a guest player, as he was never officially signed by Real Salt Lake.

e-mail: jedward@desnews.com