CARSON, Calif. – In two seasons with the Los Angeles Galaxy, Omar Gonzalez has taken large steps forward.
After being selected with the third overall pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, Gonzalez started every game with the eventual MLS Cup runners-up and walked away with Rookie of the Year honors. Last year, Gonzalez was a finalist for Defender of the Year and helped lead the Galaxy to the Supporters’ Shield title.
Now, Gonzalez is hoping to take a similar rapid path towards success on another stage. He is spending January in the United States national team camp and has set his sights on further time with the USMNT in a few months’ time.
“My goals are to be on [the Gold Cup] team, if not starting then helping out any way that I can,” Gonzalez said.
Before suiting up for the US in June, Gonzalez will have to impress in January. While he has the opportunity to win over the coaching staff in camp, Gonzalez will have a chance to prove his mettle against an international opponent on Jan. 22, when the US play Chile at The Home Depot Center.
Gonzalez said he would determine how far he comes along in the January camp by the approach he takes.
“I’ve just got to focus on being myself, playing freely, not putting too much pressure on myself,” he said. “If I do that, the rest will come along with it.”
While blossoming into one of the league’s top defenders, Gonzalez had help. He has played alongside US national team veteran Gregg Berhalter for much of his time with the Galaxy and also learned things from the club’s other veteran players.
Taking the things he learned from his former and current club teammates and putting them into use with the national team is something that could also lead to success on the international level.
“The main thing is that I’ve always had good people around me, good friends and good teammates who can help me,” he said. “That was always the main thing for me.
"All of the veteran players with the Galaxy were always there for me to talk to. It was always good but they’re not here right now so just take what I’ve learned and be confident because I’ve had two good years, so just take that and keep on going with it.”