CARSON, Calif. — It may not have happened quite the way he wanted, but Omar Gonzalez is re-energized.
A nose fracture knocked Gonzalez out of action for several games, but with the help of a mask, he was able to overcome the injury. Ultimately, it may have been a blessing in disguise for the 2010 Defender of the Year finalist.
“This injury is bad just because I missed Real Madrid and the Columbus games,” Gonzalez said. “It sucks to be out of those games. But it gave me a chance to recover a little bit from the first half of the season and I’m feeling like I was back in the preseason.”
Gonzalez felt strong in the preseason until the tail end of it, when he injured his shoulder and missed the first three games of the 2011 campaign. But now he’s had some time to step away from the playing field, watch the team from afar and mentally re-focus.
“I’m feeling pretty confident right now,” Gonzalez said. “I feel re-energized.”
His fractured nose — which he picked up in training — required some assistance to overcome. Gonzalez must wear a mask in order to play games and participate in training. His first game with it was against Manchester City on July 24.
But it wasn't the mask that had Gonzalez feeling some nerves before he entered the match at halftime.
“The only reason I was nervous was because I’d been out a week and hadn’t played and my first game back was going up against Man. City,” he said. “But that was the only nerve-racking part. Once I stepped on the field, I felt normal. I thought that I performed well.”
The only league match in which Gonzalez was unable to play was against the Crew, a 1-0 Galaxy victory on July 20. Luckily for LA, the defense did not miss a beat by having Gregg Berhalter and A.J. DeLaGarza pair centrally.
Though the unit overall has done well this season — Gonzalez has played a large part in that success — he said he still has some parts of his game to work on, even if the defense overall has been solid.
“I just need to calm down a little bit and just be more vocal as well,” Gonzalez said. “We haven’t been doing too many things wrong so there wasn’t too much to critique. I definitely want to get better in certain areas.”