Omar Gonzalez

Omar Gonzalez back with LA Galaxy, but ankle injury may delay his return to lineup

CARSON, Calif. – Omar Gonzalez, fresh from experiencing a dream come true in Brazil, now wants to do his part to help the LA Galaxy claim some silverware.

He might have to wait a little while to pitch in.

Gonzalez made his first media appearance Tuesday since returning from the World Cup and acknowledged that the ankle injury he picked up in the United States' round-of-16 loss to Belgium could keep him out of Saturday's Western Conference showdown against Real Salt Lake (10:30 pm ET, MLS Live).

"It was a pretty good injury there, but I'm still feeling it," Gonzalez said as he exited LA's training session at StubHub Center. "Still don't know if I'm going to be up for playing against Salt Lake. I'm practicing here, but practicing limited right now. But I'm going to try to get as fit as I can, make sure it's a smart move if I do end up playing. Because I want to be good for the rest of the season, and if I play and get hurt, maybe I'm out a little bit longer.

"So we have to be really smart about what happens, but, trust me, I always want to be out on the field. So it's a conversation that I have to have with Bruce [Arena] and our trainers."

Gonzalez saw action at the end of the Americans' group-stage game against Portugal, then gave strong performances in central defense when Jurgen Klinsmann gave him a starting role in the group finale against Germany and the knockout-stage clash a week ago with the Belgians.

He rolled his right ankle in the 74th minute against Belgium but completed the match, a 2-1 overtime defeat. Arena, the Galaxy's head coach, says it's too soon to reach any decisions for Saturday.

"It's only Tuesday ...," Arena said. "We'll see. We'll get into the week and see."

Gonzalez was back in Southern California for the Galaxy's 2-2 draw Friday night against Portland, where he received a thunderous response from the sellout crowd at StubHub, and he returned to training Monday.

"My goals right now are just get back here, get on the field with the Galaxy, hit the ground running, continue with the way that I'm playing, and look to winning another MLS Cup," he said. "That's the only thing on my mind."

He brings with him "a beautiful experience."

"[The World Cup] was, first of all, a dream come true," Gonzalez said. "When I was 6 years old, I said one day I was going to be out there, and it finally came true. ... I was kind of pinching myself throughout the whole tournament. It just kept on getting better and better ... and every little bit, I had to say, 'Wow! I'm really here, but I've got to stay focused and stick to the mission at hand.' "

He said he was satisfied with the Americans' showing – "I think everyone counted us out, not getting out of the group, and from the very beginning we had belief that we were going to get out, and we did that" – and that reaching the round of 16 is the benchmark for the US in the World Cup.

"Now we want to get to that point and take it even further, get to the quarterfinals, get to the semifinals," he said. "That should be our goal next time, not to just get out of the group."


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