LA Galaxy president Chris Klein – not surprisingly – called the departure of longtime center back Omar Gonzalez “bittersweet” on the heels of his transfer to Liga MX club Pachuca.
Yes, the Galaxy are losing a player who has proven to be one of MLS’s best defenders in his seven-year tenure with the club. But, Klein said, the business aspect of the deal will allow LA to bolster their roster ahead of the 2016 campaign, which gets under way with a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals matchup against Mexican side Santos Laguna in February.
“This is part of sports; it is part of the world that we live in,” Klein told LAGalaxy.com. “… Omar has meant and will always mean a tremendous amount to the Galaxy, both to our club and our fans. Any way that you slice it, this is going to be bittersweet for us because we all love Omar.”
Regardless, Gonzalez’s move will be seen as the end of an era for a player who came into his own with the club and personified LA’s success in recent years. He won three MLS Cups with LA, was selected to four MLS Best XIs, won the 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year award and 2011 Defender of the Year award.
That wasn’t lost on Gonzalez in an open letter he tweeted to Galaxy fans.
“Finding the words to sum up the last seven years with the LA Galaxy is no easy task,” he wrote in the letter’s opening. “I arrived in Los Angeles looking to fulfill my dream of playing professional soccer and everything that has happened since I arrived has been a dream come true.”
Gonzalez had his Designated Player contract in 2015 bought down by the added Targeted Allocation Money to pave the way for the summer addition of Mexico star attacker Giovani dos Santos, allowing the Galaxy to maintain the league-mandated limit of three DPs.
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That a very difficult proposition in the upcoming season, leaving LA brass with a roster dilemma.
“This positions us to go out and do some things,” Klein said. “Bruce [Arena, Galaxy head coach] and his group have been working hard to do that. We know that we need to shore up that [center back] position, and it gives us some resources to go out and shore up not only this position but others as well.
“There are a number of positions on the field that we want to upgrade. We feel like we have a great base to be able to work from. We’ve got most of our core coming back, and we’ll be able to get not just one but a few players to make our team better.”