GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Herculez Gomez is still on cloud nine, less than 24 hours after a day he will never forget.
Not only did his Santos Laguna team get crowned Mexico Primera División champions, but Gomez received a long-awaited recall to the US national team for the first time since August 2010.
“It kind of validated the season,” Gomez told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Monday afternoon. “I knew I was having a good season, but to finally get that call-up was special.”
This marks the first time Jurgen Klinsmann has called up the popular player into a squad. The two forwards briefly crossed paths when Gomez was a youngster with the LA Galaxy and Klinsmann was working as an unofficial advisor to the club.
Gomez (above left, with Santos teammate Marc Crosas) is obviously delighted with his return to the mix, but also keenly aware that this is only the provisional squad. When he arrives in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday, after three flights from Torreón, he will have just 36 hours in camp to show himself before the squad of 27 is cut to 23 on Friday.
It would be a strange situation should he not make the cut, but he isn’t complaining.
“If this was a World Cup year, I’d be right there in the final 27,” he said.
Gomez reflects with pride at adding the Primera División title to the list of accomplishments he has achieved while in Mexico: the scoring title during the Bicentenario 2010, his run to the World Cup that summer, appearances at the Club World Cup and Santos’ memorable performance in this year’s CONCACAF Champions League.
“I don’t think there are too many Americans that have come and made an impact [in Mexico],” said Gomez. “We are few and far between. That gives me a great sense of pride.”
The MLS Cup 2005 winner cites consistency as one of the main traits he has learned in the Mexican game and feels he is still improving.
Gomez says the atmosphere at Santos Laguna is like that of a family. He did his part with vital goals from mainly a right wing position this season, becoming a respected part of Mexico’s most lethal offense.
Even so, this is transfer silly season and there have been rumors in the Mexican press linking him with Club América or a return to Puebla. Even Chivas have been mentioned.
And while he allows that anything can, and does, happen in soccer – especially in Mexico – he’s not in a hurry to go anywhere.
“There’s always rumors, but I’m happy where I am,” he said. “The ownership wants me to stay.”
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org