GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Toronto FC will be glad they don't have to face Herculez Gomez any more in 2012.
The US international made it four goals in four games against the Canadian side this year, as Santos Laguna beat the Reds 1-0 on Wednesday to advance to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Gomez netted in the 73rd minute, with a driven shot from the edge of the penalty area that beat TFC goalkeeper Freddy Hall with its sheer velocity.
“The goal gave us the three points and gives us a huge boost going into the knockout round,” the World Cup veteran told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the game. “Whoever we face in the quarterfinal has to come to Torreón in the second game and try to beat us there, which is a difficult task for any team.”
It was Gomez’s first goal in the 2012-13 edition CCL and he is hoping it may lead to more minutes in league play with the defending Mexican champions.
“I’m confident that if the minutes come, the goals will come,” he stated. “But the thing I’m most proud of is that I’ve been consistent. Earlier on in my career, that was something that was lacking.”
The side Santos Laguna face in the next round of the continental competition won’t be taken lightly, either, with last season’s beaten finalists determined to go one stage further this time around.
“I’ve been to a Club World Cup, I know how special that is,” explained Gomez, who reached FIFA's year-end event with Pachuca in 2010. “If Santos want to be internationally recognized, you have to make a name for yourself on the global stage. The only way to do that is by winning this tournament.”
Looking ahead to the quarterfinals of the CCL next March, one of the teams that Santos Laguna could potentially face is Gomez’s first pro team, the LA Galaxy, which he says would make for a very special occasion.
“It’d be amazing,” he said. “They are a team that is very close to my heart.”
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.