LAS VEGAS – Herculez Gomez barely has time to think this week, let alone focus on something still weeks away.
But despite everything going on around him – a return to his hometown for a high-profile friendly against Real Madrid, his brother Ulysses’ first-ever UFC fight, his father’s 60th birthday and even receiving an honor from the city – Gomez can’t get August 15 off of his mind.
That’s the day Jurgen Klinsmann’s US national team heads to Mexico City for a friendly against El Tri at Estadio Azteca, a game for which Gomez is desperate to suit up by just about any indication.
“I think it would a culmination of all the hard work and effort I’ve put in throughout the years,” he told MLSsoccer.com on Saturday. “This is by far the one game I’ve most wanted to play while wearing a US national team jersey. God willing I can get that opportunity, and from there it’s just about soaking it in, enjoying the experience and trying to make the most of it.”
It’s hard to argue Gomez hasn’t earned the opportunity to play in his first match in Mexico’s almost-mythical fortress. He scored five goals while logging just four starts during the 2012 Clausura for Santos Laguna, added six more in a run to the CONCACAF Champions League final and already has two in three games in the Liga MX Apertura campaign.
He also scored the Americans' lone goal in a 4-1 defeat to Brazil earlier this year, added another against Antigua and Barbuda in the opener of World Cup qualifying and played a total of 340 of 450 possible minutes during the US’ five-game swing during May and June.
Still, Gomez knows from experience that things don’t always work out the way you hope, a lesson driven home after a taking what can only be called an unorthodox road to Santos Laguna and the US national team.
That said, he has high hopes for what the US can accomplish under Klinsmann come August 15 and beyond, even if the unexpected happens and he misses out on what would be a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
“We’re trying to start something special,” Gomez said. “Everybody understands that with new coaching comes new ideas and new beliefs. We’re all adjusting the right ways, everybody has a good attitude about it and we’re trying to do some good things.”