DENVER – The Sporting News' Brian Straus' controversial behind-the-scenes article certainly ruffled a few feathers around the US national team this week.
But while one of his teammates called the story's anonymous quotes from US players “shameful,” on Wednesday, Herculez Gomez amiably described the whole affair as a welcome sign of his sport's growing stateside relevance.
“Teddy bears,” he exclaimed with a grin when MLSsoccer.com asked him how the incident compared to the keen media scrutiny in Mexico, where he plays his club soccer. “It's funny, they're making a bit of a hoopla about it right now. It's almost, in a sense, cute, you know?
“But if this was Mexico, this would be on ESPN all day, this would be something where it was hush-hush, nobody says anything. But we live in such a great country where [the media] even have dialogue with us and things can be easily worked through. I think this, for us, is a learning experience. We will be a better team for it.”
Gomez, who spoke at length with both the English- and Spanish-speaking media after the USMNT's training session at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Wednesday afternoon ahead of Friday's World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica (10 pm ET; ESPN/UniMas, LIVE chat on MLSsoccer.com), even hailed Straus' work, which called into question several key aspects of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's stewardship of the squad.
“I love it – I love it,” he said. “It's about time. It's about damn time you guys took some interest and you guys started asking some tough questions. I think that shows us growing as a footballing nation, I really do.
“I think if Brian doesn't write that story and he kind of looks the other way – even if he has a hunch, I'm not saying he's right in doing it, but it's his job, so he's got to do it. He's going to burn some bridges along the way, but this country needs that exposure. This country needs football to matter. And I think that's great.”
Despite his team's 0-1 start to the CONCACAF Hexagonal round and the injury crisis which has eviscerated Klinsmann's usual roster, Gomez struck a bullish note about the tests ahead.
“Look, I'm not going to tell you that every team I've been on is perfect, because it's not the case, not at all,” he said. “But where I have been, and we've been successful, things have been kept in-house. And there's always something to be said for that. But I think we learn from this … We've touched upon it, we've compromised with each other, we're committed to each other, we know how important Friday is, and we're all fully convinced that Friday's there for the taking for us – and so is Mexico, Mexico City.”