American Exports: USMNT's Herculez Gomez formally presented by Club Tijuana: "I feel at home"
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – The next stage of Herculez Gomez’s Mexican adventure is underway.
The US international was introduced to the press at his new home at Club Tijuana on Sunday and wasted little time in stating that he has big ambitions at the border-town team.
“I’m coming to a team that has made a lot of history in a short amount of time and we all have the same idea of continuing to achieve important things,” the 31-year-old told reporters. “Tijuana wants to break through borders, to be an international team; I feel at home.”
Xolos are Gomez’s fifth team in Mexico since leaving MLS and moving down to Puebla in early 2010.
He became the first American to win a foreign scoring title in his first season with La Franja and went on to spells at Pachuca, Estudiantes Tecos and Santos Laguna, where he won the Clausura 2012 and was twice a runner-up in the CONCACAF Champions League.
“We wanted Herculez a year-and-a-half ago and he wanted to come,” Club Tijuana sporting director Ignacio Palou admitted at the same press conference. “We are very happy because we hope to see the same form that he has shown in other teams.”
Gomez was announced as a new signing at Club Tijuana on June 4, but only signed his contract in recent days.
The Las Vegas product becomes the highest-profile American name at Tijuana, a club which also boasts US internationals Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona in its first team, as well as younger Americans Greg Garza, Alejandro Guido, Stevie Rodriguez, Raul Rodriguez and Paul Arriola, among others.
“I’ve not spoken a lot with the director, but he’s given us the confidence that we are here to contribute and that if you give everything, all will be OK,” added Gomez. “It’s a very mentally strong group, they understand that the group’s unity is the strength of this team.”
Gomez is set to travel to the United States on Monday with the Club Tijuana squad to continue the next stage of preseason, but the 2010 World Cup veteran may be forced to work separately due to his recovery from a bone contusion in his right knee, an injury that forced him to pull out of the US squad on June 10.
Xolos will play Club América as part of their preseason on July 6 in San Diego as the squad prepares to compete in both the Liga MX's Apertura 2013 season as well as the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at email@example.com.