After impressive US camp, Gonzalez plays waiting game
CARSON, Calif. – Omar Gonzalez arrived in the LA Galaxy's preseason camp on Friday following three weeks with the US national team, just in time for a 45-minute stint against the US Under-17 national team Friday morning.
He could be back with the US just as quickly as he arrived, though, as he awaits word on whether he'll be selected for next week's World Cup qualifier in Honduras.
“I hope I get the invite,” Gonzalez said following the Galaxy's 5-0 romp over the U-17s on the club's training ground at the Home Depot Center. “I don't know [when I'll find out]. We'll see if I get an email here in the next couple of days or something, but I guess we'll find out.”
Gonzalez impressed during the national team's January camp at HDC and fared well over a relatively quiet 90 minutes in Tuesday's 0-0 draw against Canada in Houston. Whether it was enough to gain him a spot on Jurgen Klinsmann's roster for Wednesday's final-round CONCACAF qualifying opener against Honduras in San Pedro Sula won't be announced until Monday, but the US coach clearly liked what he saw from the 6-foot-5 center back.
“It's really nice to see how seriously he takes his job, how he's matured, and how he's greedy for the next level,” Klinsmann said before the Canada friendly. “He comes in every training session 100 percent focused, hungry, and he wants to prove his point. This is the type of player we need everywhere in every position, and he's a good example for that.”
Gonzalez, 24, made just his third international appearance Tuesday, and he was happy with how it went -- and with what he showed during the camp.
“That game against Canada was a little bit difficult,” he said. “They were a playing a little bit more defensive-minded; they had everyone behind the ball, and it was pretty hard to break them down. Our back four didn't have much to do. I thought it was a good game to be part of, just making sure not to give them any chances.
“I think the most important part [of camp] was getting to be with Jurgen and the coaching staff for a good few weeks. It was a good opportunity for them to see how I am day in and day out, see that I'm taking things really seriously, and I'm looking for this opportunity. That was good.”
Gonzalez was in command at the back throughout the first half of Friday's scrimmage, a game LA dominated, with Mike Magee and Robbie Keane, on a penalty, scoring first-half goals, and Jose Villarreal, rookie Greg Cochrane and Jack McBean adding second-half strikes.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena paired Gonzalez with Tommy Meyer – rather than with A.J. DeLaGarza, also back from the national team camp – in the opening 45 minutes, but cautioned not to read into the lineup decision.
“We don't know yet who our starting group will be,” Arena said. “For the most part, our tandem of Omar and A.J. has been our group.”
Said Gonzalez: “I have no idea what Bruce is thinking. Today is just because I wanted to play the first half, and he already had A.J. playing the second.”