CARSON, Calif. – Omar Gonzalez skipped the last three LA Galaxy games with knee pain (and to avoid Portland's and Vancouver's artificial surfaces) following his Fourth of July return to the field, but he says he's now ready for his next step in his comeback from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
MLS' reigning Defender of the Year is hoping to get some minutes in Saturday night's SuperClásico against Chivas USA at Home Depot Center (10 pm ET, TeleFutura in the US, MLS Live in Canada), though the need for head coach Bruce Arena to rest weary legs has made his potential role in Saturday's showdown unclear.
Arena says Gonzalez is a “guy we can consider,” though he also puts midfielder Mike Magee and left back Todd Dunivant into that category, both of whom are less likely to feature in the second Clasico of the campaign.
“Right now, it's all in Bruce's hands and whether he feels I can get sufficient minutes,” Gonzalez said following the Galaxy's training session Friday morning. “It's tough, because we're coming on our third game in one week, so he has to worry about other guys who have heavy legs and whether they can go 90 minutes. So starting me or bringing me in late – whatever happens, I'm up for it.”
Gonzalez, who tore his right ACL in January in his first practice on loan with German Bundesliga club FC Nürnberg, made his return in the July 4 match with Philadelphia, playing the first half of a 2-1 defeat. He was on the 18-man game day roster four days later at Chicago, and then reported that scar tissue under the tendon was causing pain.
“It just doesn't feel right, right now,” Gonzalez said. “I'm kind of hitting a little spot where I'm kind of questioning it a little bit. I think I have to really think about things right now.”
He made the trip to the Pacific Northwest for games last weekend at Portland and Wednesday at Vancouver, but he wasn't going to play on the surfaces of JELD-WEN Field and BC Place.
“The whole last week was good, just to travel with the team and get my fitness up and get a lot of trainings ...,” Gonzalez said. “I did a bunch of ball work before the guys went out to warm up [before the game in Vancouver], and I felt really great. And afterwards, I could just feel it in my knees, just how hard that turf is.
“They say that field [at BC Place] is, like, the top turf, and it's definitely not. Portland's field was a lot better. If there was a game to play, then it would have been Portland's. That field [in Vancouver] wasn't good enough.”
Gonzalez said he believes he has “worked my way up to more than 45” minutes, and that he's “not too far away” from being able to go 90.
The Galaxy sure could use him: They've conceded 11 goals in their last five matches.
“He's looked a lot better,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. “He came back and was excited to play, and I think what's probably normal with long-term injuries like that is the initial excitement is there, and you play, and they you're going to have a little bit of a down period because your body's not used to this kind of intensity all the time.
“It's actually been a blessing in disguise to have a Chicago game where he didn't need to play and these two games where they were on turf, where it was a good reason to keep him out. Now he's build up his strength and endurance over the last few weeks, and hopefully he's good to go.”
Trio doubtful for Saturday
Magee, who is suffering from a shin hematoma suffered against Philadelphia, says his leg still gets numb when he runs, “so that's not a good sign.” He's targeting the July 24 friendly against Tottenham Hotspur for a few minutes, “and if not, then [the game in] Dallas next week.”
Dunivant skipped training Friday after leaving the Vancouver game in the first half with a calf strain; Arena said LA would “see how he is today” before making any decisions.
And forward Edson Buddle, rehabbing following surgery for a torn meniscus suffered May 26 at Houston, says he hopes “it will be a week or two” when he can return fully to training. He's just running and swimming now.