KINGSTON, Jamaica – Herculez Gomez had no desire to discuss his transfer from Santos Laguna to Club Tijuana on Tuesday, a move which was reported early in the day and confirmed late in the evening by Santos.
Speaking briefly to the traveling media before the US national team's training session at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex, the striker offered only a blank look and a terse “no comment” on the reports.
But Gomez did reveal that he remains hampered by a bone contusion in his right knee, and he used the past tense to refer to his time at the Torreón club as he discussed the nagging injury which kept him out of Sunday's 4-3 friendly victory over Germany and is complicating his efforts to be in the starting lineup against Jamaica at the National Stadium on Kingston's west side come Friday night (9:30 pm ET, beIN Sport, Live Chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“Towards the end of the season, when I was at Santos, the last month, I was playing with a knock on the knee, had a little bone contusion, and that's what was causing a little discomfort when I got here,” Gomez said. “We did a little treatment and the knee has reacted with a little more swelling than usual because of that treatment. But nothing crazy, nothing that's keeping me up at night.
“Definitely not an issue, but enough of an issue where we have to be smart.”
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Gomez went the full 90 in the Yanks' last visit to Kingston, a stunning 2-1 loss to the Reggae Boyz last September that knocked the US off stride in the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying but did not prevent them from reaching the Hexagonal stage.
He and his teammates are eager to learn from that humbling setback – Jamaica's first qualifying win against the US – and strike a blow against the home side's flagging hopes this week. The Reggae Boyz suffered a close but dispiriting 1-0 loss to Mexico on Tuesday night and may have to rotate their lineup, while the USMNT have arrived earlier than usual to ensure a calm, methodical buildup.
“That's the idea, that any time you can fail, you can use those failures to succeed next time,” Gomez said of last year's trip. “And we understand that they're a very difficult group, but also there might be some changes for them, so a little bit of 'expect the unexpected.' But we know they're going to be a physical bunch, we know that they're going to come out to play, they're going to come out with the right attitude so we need to match that intensity.”
Jamaica coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore and his men now prop up the Hexagonal standings with two points from four games and will likely approach Friday as a must-win affair. Whitmore brought Vancouver Whitecaps striker Darren Mattocks off the bench against Mexico, and he is one of several squad members who will be eyeing a bigger role against the Yanks as the hosts seek improvement in the attacking third.
“At the end of the day, you're still playing Jamaica, no matter who plays,” said Gomez. “It could be a huge overhaul, a lot of different players we haven't seen. But that comes with this territory, that's just the region. It doesn't matter who plays ... it's going to be complicated because of the field, the weather, the opponent. It's going to be a physical battle, but we've got to come in with the right mentality.”