What Ever Happened To ... Christian Gomez
MLSsoccer.com continues its look back at the stars, personalities and cult heroes who made Major League Soccer what it is today. Our second annual “What Ever Happened To..." series rolls on with 2006 MLS MVP Christian Gómez.
Where He Was Then
From the second he first landed in Major League Soccer in August of 2004, Christian Gómez was an impact player. His four goals down the stretch that season helped D.C. United return to MLS Cup glory and kicked off the Peter Nowak Era on an up note.
Over the next three seasons, Gómez was explosive, his 35 goals and 27 assists helping United to back-to-back Supporters’ Shields in 2006 and ’07 and earning himself three straight All-Star nods and MLS Best XI selections along the way. His 2006 season was particularly impressive, as his 14 goals and 11 assists won him the MLS MVP award.
Though the ending may not have been as glorious – Gómez was shipped off to Colorado in 2008 to make way for fellow Argentine Marcelo Gallardo, only to return to D.C. a year later to far less glory – few players in league history enjoyed such a prolific three-year span.
Where He Is Now
After his return to United for the 2009 campaign, which ended up being his last in MLS, Gómez joined Miami FC of the USSF Division 2, where he spent a season. By that point, he knew it was time to go home.
Eight years prior, after he helped Nueva Chicago win promotion to the Argentine first division, he made a promise to go back to his boyhood team one day. Staying true to his word, Gómez returned to the Buenos Aires club – currently in the Argentine third division – in late 2010. Despite Nueva Chicago’s fall from the big time, it was an easy decision, he says.
“At the end of 2010, many fans went to the airport to welcome me unexpectedly,” he explains from Buenos Aires. “In the streets, there were people who wouldn’t stop asking me when I was going to return to the club. So I gladly went back to a club that was aching, but that also had the desire to go back to the top like old times.”
At 37 years old, the midfielder has given a new spark to his hometown team and hopes to take them once again to a higher division.
“This [season] will be essential for the club if we want to get promoted,” he says, fully aware that only the champion of the league wins promotion outright. “Reaching second place won’t work.”
After 20 years of playing the game, Gómez doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. He says he still feels the adrenaline before every match, and was a major contributor during the recently completed Apertura season, appearing in 15 of Nueva Chicago’s 20 games and adding two goals. His club’s fate will have nothing to do with his future, he says.
“Whether we make it or not, it will not affect my decision,” Gómez says. “Right now, I feel good physically and mentally. Hopefully we’ll get promoted with Chicago and then we’ll see if I keep playing here or at another club.”
Regardless of where he goes, Gómez still holds the fondest of memories of his time in MLS with D.C. United. Aside from winning silverware and all the personal accolades that came with it, he also made some good friends.
“With Jaime [Moreno], Ben Olsen and other experienced players, we had control over that team,” he recalls. “D.C. was a top team and we would go everywhere expecting to win. Teams would go to Washington covered in fear. They would line up with all their men playing defense because they had so much respect towards us.”
Gómez says he hopes to go back to Washington one day and see some of those friends he left behind. Perhaps, he adds, he can join them one day in D.C. United’s Hall of Tradition.
“I lived many beautiful moments,” he says, “and was lucky to leave a mark in D.C.”
What They Said
“For me, it was very easy to play with Christian. We had a great understanding. We had some very memorable years together and became very good friends. He went on to become the MLS MVP and that doesn’t just happen. One achieves that with a lot of effort and dedication, which is what he did.”
– Jaime Moreno, former D.C. United teammate
WATCH: Gómez's dynamite 2006 MVP season