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MLS: Luis Gil starts atop Real Salt Lake’s diamond midfield
Notes » 20-year-old begins game in place of Javier Morales, who’s out with a back injury.
First Published Mar 15 2014 10:43 pm • Last Updated Mar 15 2014 11:38 pm

Santa Clara, Calif. • He’s viewed as the eventual replacement, and on Saturday night, Luis Gil got another shot to show how he does atop the Real Salt Lake midfield attack. The highly touted 20-year-old started in place of RSL star Javier Morales against the San Jose Earthquakes due to a back injury Morales picked up in the season-opening 1-0 win at L.A. on March 8.

Gil, who has stamped his current starting spot on the outside in RSL’s midfield, has notched several starts in the Morales attacking role. Now in his fifth year with the club, Gil has started 30 matches atop the diamond across all competitions. He started there 10 times in 2013, 11 times in 2012 and nine times in 2011.

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With Morales out against San Jose and Gil moved around the midfield, rookie Luke Mulholland made his first career start in Major League Soccer. Mulholland came on as a sub in the 1-0 win at L.A. last week and scored a goal in the 75th minute, but it was whistled offside. However, in stoppage time Saturday night, the rookie made sure that wouldn’t happen. He ran onto a save by San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch and buried it to give RSL a 3-1 halftime lead.

Plata platter

Joao Plata had a stellar preseason, both in California and Arizona in the six weeks leading up to the start of the 2014 season. It’s certainly paid off.

The 22-year-old forward scored in the first half of RSL’s match at San Jose Saturday night, a week after scoring the game-winner against the Galaxy. The 5-foot-2 speedster has looked threatening throughout the start of the season, using his combination of speed and skill to punish back lines.

Familiar faces

Four days after being signed by one of his former teams, Khari Stephenson appeared in the active 18-man roster for San Jose coach Mark Watson. The former San Jose midfielder played with RSL in 2013 appearing in 25 matches across all competitions, starting in 12. Former RSL forward Atiba Harris started against his former side. In two seasons with RSL, Harris appeared in 45 matches, starting 26.

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