"I'm all in": What Omar Gonzalez gives the New England Revolution

A free agent this offseason for the first time in his 10-year MLS career, Omar Gonzalez didn't have to think too long upon receiving word of interest from the New England Revolution.

The veteran center back was announced Wednesday as the Revs' newest signing after a two-and-a-half season run with Toronto FC. It's a two-year deal that reunites him with head coach Bruce Arena, who he previously starred for with the LA Galaxy's dominant championship sides of the early 2010s, winning three MLS Cups and two Supporters’ Shields.

At age 33 and with New England already featuring an entrenched first-choice center-back pairing in Henry Kessler and Andrew Farrell, exactly what role awaits Gonzalez with the 2021 Supporters' Shield champion remains to be seen. But speaking to reporters on his introductory video call, Gonzalez said he fully intends to lift everyone's performances.

“They’re a well-established group. They played really well last year," Gonzalez said. "Obviously, Kessler and Farrell are a great center-back pairing. I think I'm coming in to add to the competition. I want to be on the field just as much as they do, and I think as a player, as [are] those two guys, you should never be satisfied, and you should always be trying to push to be your best, and so I'm coming in to push them.

"I'm coming to push myself, and hopefully we can all make each other better, and we can make it an even better 2022 than they had in 2021. That's the goal. We want to win MLS Cup. We want to win [Concacaf] Champions League. The thing that I'm adding is depth, and whether I'm on the field, whether I'm starting, whether I'm not starting, I'm a team-first guy. I'm committed. I'm all in."

Watching the Revs from afar, Gonzalez has been struck by how the winning culture Arena famously instilled on those Galaxy teams has translated to New England.

The Revs have embarked on a massive turnaround under Arena since his 2019 arrival, culminating in a torrid 2021 that saw the club set a single-season MLS points record (73) and earn four MLS Best XI spots alongside a slew of awards, including midfielder Carles Gil as MVP.

“Speaking to our Galaxy days, those are some great memories," Gonzalez said. "From Supporters’ Shields to MLS Cups, to a lot of winning. That’s what I remember the most, is just winning and a good environment, a positive culture, a place you wanted to be every day where you love coming into work.

"I remember an environment where Bruce gave a lot of leeway but expected the most from his players. And so I expect to be coming to New England and seeing that same sort of culture here."

Whether he becomes a regular starter or not, there will be minutes for the taking as the Revs contend with a hectic early-season schedule. New England qualified for the 2022 Concacaf Champions League thanks to last year's Supporters' Shield title, a tournament that Gonzalez won in 2017 while at Liga MX's Pachuca. They're drawn against Cavaly AS in the Round of 16, with a two-legged series set for Feb. 15 in Haiti and Gillette Stadium on Feb. 22.

Then their MLS campaign begins Feb. 26 at the Portland Timbers, while their U.S. Open Cup bid begins in mid-May when that competition returns for 2022. As miles pile up across multiple fronts, squad rotation will be a necessity.

"You need depth at the very beginning of the season," Gonzalez said. "Games come quickly, and you need to be able to rotate. You need experienced players. Bringing me along, I have the experience. I've played in this tournament before. I can help the other guys who maybe don't have that experience, be a good sounding board."

Overall, it's about carrying 2021's pace-setting form forward and vanquishing an early Audi MLS Cup Playoffs exit at the hands of eventual champion New York City FC. And Gonzalez's mentality is fully geared toward adding more to the trophy case.

"I want to be a part of this growth," Gonzalez said. "I want to be a part of adding a star to the jersey, to making the fans proud, seeing a full Gillette Stadium. That would be incredible. So there's a lot of things to look to, and I'm hoping that we can accomplish those goals."