ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Before Omar Gonzalez joins his new MLS teammates and tries to bolster Toronto FC’s struggling defense, he and his US national team cohorts face the beginning of an even bigger undertaking this summer.
The 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup is the USMNT’s first formal competition since elimination from 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying following a stunning 2-1 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago, in which Gonzalez scored an unlucky own goal.
And the coming edition of the Gold Cup is about more than just re-establishing regional supremacy, he says.
“Listen, there was a lot of turmoil the way things ended” with qualifying, Gonzalez said to reporters at US training on Monday. “And we’re on a mission now. We’re on a mission to change the way the world views us, the way we play. And we’re not taking that lightly.”
Speaking just minutes before TFC officially announced the signing from Liga MX outfit Atlas, Gonzalez declined to address questions regarding his club move.
However, as one of the players who has been at US coach Gregg Berhalter’s extended camp since Memorial Day, he made no secret he intends to make his TFC debut as a defending Gold Cup champion.
“We want to do our job, we want to come in, we want to win this tournament, that’s our focus,” Gonzalez said. “And we want every single game to continue to improve and impose ourselves on the other team and get results playing the way we want to play. That’s our mission from here on out.”
Columbus midfielder Wil Trapp — who like many MLS based players was in his first day of US practice on Monday — is among the larger cohort that got its first extended international look following that failure.
Trapp has far less frame of reference, but has still reached the point where he’s ready for an extended run of meaningful matches. That will come shortly, following tune-ups against Jamaica on Wednesday in Washington (7 pm PT | FS1, UniMás, UDN) and Venezuela on Sunday in Cincinnati.
“I think there’s always something to prove. ... And I think now that there’s real stakes, there’s a trophy up for grabs, that’s even more motivation for this group,” Trapp told MLSsoccer.com.
“You want to compete for something and have that pressure and that feeling of the real thing. Fortunately we have a whole tournament of it.”