If there’s one player who can offer the best perspective of what many are hoping is a budding rivalry between the LA Galaxy and Club Tijuana, it’s Herculez Gomez.
The Club Tijuana striker also played for the Galaxy and came on as an 80th-minute substitute in Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first-leg matchup between the two teams, which LA won 1-0.
But what Gomez had to say to journalist Andrea Canales, who was on hand writing for ESPNFC.com, probably isn’t what the Galaxy want to hear.
Gomez was not only critical of the mostly pro-Tijuana crowd at StubHub Center for the series’ first leg, which still wasn’t anything to write home about, he also said the rivalry isn’t much of, well, a rivalry.
The 2010 World Cup veteran was also clearly not happy with his own coach, César Farías for starting him on the bench. And perhaps it's for good reason, considering Gomez has nine goals against teams from north of the border in CCL competition.
On the pro-Tijuana crowd: “I think it was disappointing for LA. You can’t claim to be one of the best fan bases and the flagship team of the league and get shown up like this. I’m sure their players feel disappointed.”
He also said he expected it.
“No, I’m not surprised,” he said. “I expected it. We’re really popular. People keep saying MLS should go to San Diego, but that’s maybe not such a good idea.”
He continued to slam the atmosphere: "A few thousand people shouting one way, a few thousand people another way, that’s not a good atmosphere."
On his benching: "There’s a chip on my shoulder that I didn’t get more time today, that’s for sure. I think you should maybe know your players better. This is a tournament that I get up for. I’ve done a lot of things that have been positive in this tournament. I would have loved to have had more time. I was proactive, I was getting looks, it just wasn’t enough. I would have loved to have done more."
He also had some things to say about he match itself, saying Tijuana were unlucky not to score a goal.
“Absolutely, but that’s the way football goes,” Gomez said. “You have to give [LA] credit for looking for it in the first half. Maybe in the second half they weren’t very proactive offensively, but they did enough to get the result. It’s maybe not the best result they would have hoped for, but it’s still a result.”