SEATTLE – The timing should have raised eyebrows and prompted skepticism from even the most naïve among us.
Yet Twitter still bit hard on Monday when Herculez Gomez used a three-year-old picture and a month of prep work to announce what appeared to be an imminent move to Chivas USA.
Like his on-field persona, Gomez isn’t one to shirk on effort when it comes to banter, so he enlisted help from his brother, Ulysses, to help plant the seed while he fanned the flames until the “move” grew into a full-fledged rumor that only died out once everyone finally took a closer look at the calendar.
Not only is there no truth in the gag, Gomez says he hasn’t heard from Chivas USA – or any other MLS club, for that matter – since moving south to Puebla in January 2010.
"The only thing I can say is that I represent myself and to this day I have not received any calls, offers, nothing,” Gomez told MLSsoccer.com on Monday night ahead of Tuesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League semifinal first leg against the Seattle Sounders (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). “I respect MLS because it has been part of my making as a player, and it has a big part of my heart. But this is a career, and up to this day, I have not received any offers."
Of course, it’s hard to imagine Gomez is in any hurry to cut short the magnificent run he’s had in Mexico as a member of Puebla, Pachuca, Estudiantes Tecos and Santos Laguna over the past three years, a period during which he’s scored 35 league goals, won the league title and finished as the division’s leading scorer.
But even if the timing isn’t right now, could Gomez return to MLS at some point before his career is finished? He's not ruling that out.
“Absolutely,” he told MLSsoccer.com’s Tom Marshall recently. “I don’t like the word 'finish' because I feel like I have 20 years left in me and I’m not even at my prime yet. I feel like it could be in the works.”
Should that ever materialize, MLS sides certainly wouldn’t mind avoiding the opportunistic striker during CCL play. He’s been a regional bogeyman for the likes of Seattle, Toronto FC and the Houston Dynamo since joining Santos, scoring all eight of his goals in the competition against sides playing in the US top-flight where he started his career.
Three of those goals came against the Sounders in last year’s quarterfinal series, which the Mexican side won handily 7-3 on aggregate, and Seattle manager Sigi Schmid will have a word of warning for his backline on Tuesday night when both teams meet in the first leg of a semifinal series in which Santos is the favorite to advance.
“I like big moments, and it just so happens these MLS clubs were in those big moments: quarterfinals, semifinals, knockout stages,” Gomez said. “It is what it is. It just happened to be them. I don’t think I subconsciously try harder because it’s an MLS team, but it also doesn’t mean I want to lose to an MLS team.”
But does he want to play for an MLS team? That’s a bit more complicated.
“I love the [United States]. This is my home,” Gomez said. “But to this day, there hasn’t been one MLS club to approach me with an offer. So the ball’s in their court.”