MEXICO CITY — LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez represents the US national team, but he still very much considers himself Mexican and he's proud of it.
His Mexican roots make Tuesday night's World Cup qualifier against Mexico at the mythical Estadio Azteca (10:30 pm ET, ESPN and Univision, Live chat on MLSsoccer.com) a special occasion for the MLS Cup 2012 MVP.
"I'm really excited," Gonzalez told reporters on Monday. "I still have maybe half of my family that lives in Monterrey, Mexico, and I have a lot of ties here and I'm very proud to be Mexican and to be able to play against Mexico in Azteca is going to be something really special for me. I can't wait for it. I'm going to have a lot of fun with it.
"I'm playing for the US and that's what I always wanted to do," he continued. "But the feeling I feel of being Mexican and playing in Azteca is really hard to put into words. It's really a special time for me."
To think that the Azteca could have been Gonzalez's home field with Mexican giants Club América rumored to be interested in the central defender back in 2011. But that wasn't just heresay, according to Gonzalez.
"This past two years, I've been hearing some things and América has expressed some interest and we just haven't been able to go forward with it that much because of the injury and things like that," Gonzalez said. "But they've been following me every since I've come back [from injury]."
With his MLS contract expiring at the end of the current season, could a strong performance at the Azteca reignite the talk of a move to a Mexican club?
"Let's hope that I have a great showing," he said. "But that's not why I'm playing, obviously. I just want to get a nice game in tomorrow, hopefully get the three points and whatever comes with that, let it come."
Gonzalez, who revealed that he grew up following the Galaxy's upcoming CONCACAF Champions League semifinal foes Monterrey since his uncle played for the club, never received interest from Mexican youth national teams over the years despite being eligible.
He could make Mexico pay for their oversight on Tuesday night. Gonzalez, who enjoyed arguably his best showing in a USMNT senior jersey paired with fellow University of Maryland alum Clarence Goodson vs. Costa Rica, revealed that US players already know whether they were starting against Mexico. If it turns out he's one of them, the storybook headlines could write themselves on Tuesday night.
"Me and my family coming over to America to have a better life and I'm first-generation Mexican-American and making my life here," Gonzalez said. "Things have gone great for me. And I just think it just shows that to be able to live the American dream that so many Mexicans want to come over and do."