It was as if the script was already written for Herculez Gomez. The red-hot striker netted twice more on Wednesday, helping Santos Laguna advance past Seattle into the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals.
“It meant a lot to me, but I don’t consider I had a great game by any means,” Gomez told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the game. “I just feel fortunate enough that I was on the winning team.”
With his team in first place in the Mexican Primera División and now in the semifinals of the CCL after the 6-1 victory, the 29-year-old is clearly enjoying playing in Torreón with the offense-minded Guerreros.
“We have a clear sight of what we want to achieve and we all buy into what our coach is telling us,” he said. “It’s a good feeling.”
The Las Vegas native did have a few kind words for Seattle and is convinced the rout wasn’t as convincing as the score line makes it seem, adding that the gap between MLS teams and Mexican first-division sides is getting closer in terms of both talent and respect.
“I think the score tonight was a little bit deceptive,” Gomez offered. “We played well and beat a very good team, we know that.”
The World Cup veteran also said his substitution in the 70th minute – when he needed to be stretchered off the field – was also not as bad as it looked. It was nothing more than muscle cramp in his leg, the onetime Sounder said, caused by starting five games in the last 16 days.
Gomez has seven goals over those past five games, and it’ll probably take more than cramp to stop him attempting to keep the hot streak going against Cruz Azul on Saturday.
The requisite question of a return to the US national team follows, but Gomez was quick to deflect attention away from the issue.
“Like I’ve said, I’m not even thinking about the national team because, quite frankly, I’m not part of it,” he said. “What I am part of is Club Santos right now and I have an opportunity to hopefully keep helping this team achieve points and get further in the CONCACAF tournament; that’s all I can concentrate on right now.”
And while Gomez is thrilled at moving on in the CCL, where Santos will face Toronto FC in the semis in two weeks’ time, he admits he would’ve loved to see the LA Galaxy advance, allowing him to play against another former club of his.
“It broke my heart,” he said of the Galaxy’s shocking loss to Toronto later Wednesday night. “I’m very disappointed. The club has meant a lot to me throughout my career – I was a fan before I was a player.”
He stopped a moment, pausing to add his final thought.
“Hopefully,” he added, “I can exact a little revenge for them.”
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.