Former LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez wrapped up a dream first season in Mexico's Liga MX, clinching a Clausura title with Pachuca in a dramatic finale on Sunday. And it came at the expense of another US international.
With the aggregate-goal series tied at 1-1, Gonzalez's Pachuca and Monterrey were facing extra time in the decisive second leg of the final series played at the BBVA Bancomer Stadium in Monterrey. And it wasn't looking good for Pachuca, who were down to 10 men and barely hanging on after several providential saves by their 43-year-old goalkeeper, Oscar "El Conejito" Perez, in addition to a missed penalty kick by the dominant locals.
But Pachuca stunned the home crowd with a 92nd-minute, stoppage-time goal mere moments before the final whistle to claim the championship. Victor Guzman headed home a pinpoint cross, leaping over US national team left back Edgar Castillo, who was overpowered on the critical play.
Castillo will look to erase the nightmare finish with a trip stateside to join the USMNT, which made him a late injury replacement for fullback Timmy Chandler for the upcoming Copa America Centenario kicking off Friday, June 3.
Gonzalez, meanwhile, will be taking an offseason break after US manager Jurgen Klinsmann opted to exclude him from the Copa America roster, a decision which came as a surprise to many after he started all 23 of Pachuca's matches in their championship run following his transfer from the LA Galaxy in December 2015.
This latest league triumph adds another trophy to what is already a decorated career for the 27-year-old center back: He won three MLS Cup trophies with the LA Galaxy (2011, 2012 and 2014), the 2011 MLS Defender of the Year award, 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year honors and he was also named to the MLS Best XI in four of his seven seasons in the league. Before joining MLS he captured the 2008 NCAA title with the University of Maryland.
With the US national team, the 2014 World Cup veteran has 31 total caps and helped the team win the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. His last appearance in red-white-and-blue came on March 25 in a 2-0 World Cup qualifying loss to Guatemala.
This feeling will never get old! So proud of my teammates & our entire staff. And so proud to be a Tuzo! Champions! pic.twitter.com/SzUX7SxUyI— Omar Gonzalez (@Omar4Gonzalez) May 30, 2016