While in town for last week’s USA-Mexico clash in Columbus, US national team defender Omar Gonzalez met with Crew SC head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter.
A club spokesman confirmed Monday that the meeting had taken place, but details of that conversation are slim.
A source told MLSsoccer.com on Monday that the two met to discuss the possibility of Gonzalez returning to MLS, but the Crew SC spokesman said Berhalter characterized the meeting as “social,” and referred to the three years the two men spent as teammates with the LA Galaxy between 2009 and 2011.
Gonzalez, the third overall selection in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, left MLS a year ago, when the Galaxy sold him to Mexican club CF Pachuca for an unspecified transfer fee. Because the Galaxy got a fee in the deal, they no longer hold the MLS rights to Gonzalez.
Given his standing as a "select US national team player," Gonzalez would need re-enter MLS through the league's allocation process, and Columbus are currently 17th on the allocation ranking order. However, the allocation ranking order will reset ahead of the 2017 season, with the two expansion teams leading the ranking followed by existing teams in the reverse order of their 2016 finish, which would put Columbus at No. 5.
In addition to using their spot in the allocation ranking, any MLS team that wants to acquire Gonzalez would need to pay a transfer fee to Pachuca, barring an agreement to mutually terminate his contract or his contract expiring.
Gonzalez still has multiple years left on his Pachuca deal, but the source said Gonzalez and his representatives are willing to “review and assess any opportunities” that come their way. The defender has been a regular for Pachuca, helping them win a Liga MX title in May and so far starting 15 of the club’s 16 matches this season, which started in July.
During his time with LA, Gonzalez was named 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year and 2011 Defender of the Year, and earned three MLS All-Star nods. Between 2010 and his departure in 2015, Gonzalez and the Galaxy won three MLS Cups and two Supporters’ Shields.
His Galaxy career also launched his international career, as he made the USMNT roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and notched more than 30 caps for the national team.
He started and played the full 90 minutes in the USMNT’s 2-1 loss to Mexico in Columbus on Friday.