CARSON, Calif. — Since having been taken third overall in the MLS SuperDraft in 2009, Omar Gonzalez has glided rather effortlessly to success.
The Maryland product immediately nailed down a spot in the Starting XI, helped the Galaxy strengthen their defense and was a key part on a championship contender. He walked away with Rookie of the Year honors and has followed that up with a First XI nod in the 2010 MLS All-Star Game.
Gonzalez now will have a chance to carry over his run of success to the international stage. The Dallas native left for New Jersey to join up with the US National Team after the Galaxy’s 3-2 loss to Real Madrid on Saturday. Gonzalez is part of the United States’ first match in the 2014 World Cup cycle.
The US will play Brazil at New Meadowlands Stadium on Tuesday. Gonzalez is one of three Galaxy players on the team as both Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle are also part of the squad.
For his part, Gonzalez said he is ready to play a key role in the national team.
“I’d like to think so,” he said. “I think that I’m evolving and coming into my own.”
Much like the way he approached his rookie season, Gonzalez said he would look to guidance from the established players on the team.
“I’ve just got to go into the game and learn from the guys who are starting, Bocanegra and those guys, and try and see how they’re leading the team and maybe pick up a few pointers and try and use that for my game,” he said.
When the US initially released the roster for the match, Gonzalez wasn't part of it. However, when Columbus Crew defender Chad Marshall pulled out of the game, the University of Maryland alum was quickly called in to replace the MLS Defender of the Year.
After Saturday’s match, though, Gonzalez showed that perhaps he should have been included in the initial roster. He did well to stifle Real Madrid in the first half, keeping the likes of Karim Benzema and Rafael van der Vaart quiet.
“Omar Gonzalez played really well,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said after the match. “To see him play against some of those exceptional players is great. We probably made a little bit of a mistake playing him as long as we did because he wasn’t feeling well before the game but he gave us 60 to 65 good minutes.”
After the match, Gonzalez said he felt fine during the game and reported no immediate negative side effects. Instead, what gave him a boost was how he performed during the match.
“It was just seeing what it’s like at that different level and knowing I can get there one day. For me it was just a big confidence booster,” Gonzalez said. “It could help me making me that much more confident. The game [on Tuesday] is going to be that much more faster in the international play so if I get on the field I’m going to try and play my best.”