LA Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez was immense as the United States were eliminated from the 2014 FIFA World Cup by Belgium in a 2-1 loss.
Making his second straight start for the Americans in central defense alongside Matt Besler, the U.S. defense held thanks to 16 saves by Tim Howard before conceding two extra time goals that sealed their fate. Following the match, the stat sheet was kind to the Galaxy defender who made a team-high 20 clearances as well as four interceptions and three blocked shots.
"What a battle. Belgium is no easy team to play against and it took a great effort to come back, especially in that extra time. Everyone was tired on both teams, but we never gave up and it’s something that we can really be proud of," sid Gonzalez. "I think that we can hold our heads up high. A lot of guys had great games tonight. We almost came back. We had a few great chances to get back and could have brought it to pks so I’m happy for my teammates and for myself.”
Although the result was a painful one, after the match Gonzalez admitted that the U.S. could hold their heads up high after the defeat.
“The energy is all about the passion for the game. It is something that is ingrained in the American spirit that we will never give up; we will never stop fighting,” said Gonzalez. “I really hope the fans across the world saw that today—that we never stop fighting.”
Despite all the heartbreak, Gonzalez and the rest of the U.S. were keenly aware about the way that the nation rallied around the team both in Brazil and back at home.
“I want to thank all the fans that made it out tonight [in Salvador]," he said. "The support, hearing the U.S. chant that late in the game was an unbelievable feeling and I know that the fans back at home were cheering their hearts out as well.”
LA Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez took part in a brief conference call with Los Angeles based reporters ahead of Tuesday's World Cup round of 16 match between the U.S. and Belgium.
During the call, Gonzalez was asked about a myriad of topics including defending the Belgian attack, whether or not he'd start the match and the U.S.' attacking plans.
Check it out below.
(On what Belgium offers as an opponent…)
GONZALEZ: “Well I think that what we’ve talked about as a team is that they aren’t much different than what we’ve seen so far. They pretty much field sort of the same lineup that we’ve seen and it’s going to be no surprise tomorrow. We know that they have very talented players, but they are definitely not more talented than what we faced already and the talent that we’ve seen in Germany and also going up against the likes of Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo. We know that it is going to be a tough challenge. Belgium is a young talented team and I think we are ready. I think we’ve prepared well and it’s going to be a fun game tomorrow.”
(On Belgium’s talented attackers and their movement up top as a challenge…)
GONZALEZ: “Their movement is very good up top and it’s going to be very challenging for us but as long as we can keep them in front of us and give support to our wide guys when they have [Eden] Hazard or [Dries] Mertens coming at them. Just provide support so that we don’t get a lot of one versus one out wide, and if they do get a one versus one out wide, we need to be sure to follow runners inside the box because they have some big guys who can definitely get to the ball.”
(On his confident performance against Germany and on how he can have a confident performance against Belgium…)
GONZALEZ: “I am feeling good. [My] Body has recovered well and I am looking forward to getting on the field tomorrow and putting on a solid performance. What I can do is do is basically what I did last game… be mobile, provide cover for my other defenders, I think we want to be a bit more aggressive. I think that we were too late to getting to the German guys the last game and we want to make sure to not let them have too much possession. If they do have possession then [we want to make it] not make it easy for them. That’s something that I want to help [shore] up and I can do that [through] a lot of communication and getting down in the right position so that they are able to get to the ball further.”
(On if he feels he locked down his starting spot for the Belgium game…)
GONZALEZ: “I can’t speak too much about locking down any kind of spots right now. Right now my mind is just about the team here and so I’m not looking for any personal gain here. If my name gets called upon again then I’m going to work just as hard as anyone else on that field. Tomorrow it’s going to take another great team effort and I’m hoping that I believe our team is very strong. We put together good team performances so that’s where I am at right now and I’m going to fight for the guy next to me.”
(On the support the team is receiving in the United States…)
GONZALEZ: “I have a pretty good idea just by following social media, you hear about the watch parties and you see the pictures and videos and you see the amount of fans that are going. It makes me really happy to see the fans back home rallying up behind us and it’s definitely not any more added pressure, I think it makes us want to work harder [because] we want to give them a great performance. I think as long as we put forth everything we’ve got, everyone can be happy about that but hopefully we can give them a win.”
(On criticism coming his way and feelings turning around after his performance against Germany…)
GONZALEZ: “I’m not really worried about what people say out there. It’s pretty telling how quickly people can go from talking crap, or criticizing and then all of the sudden being in your corner if you have a good performance. My worry isn’t what people are thinking, what I am staying focused on is my team, the 23 guys that are here, and my coaches and all I have to worry about is what they think. As long as they feel that I am doing a great job, then I’m happy. One thing that I want to do is stay consistent. I’m coming off a good performance against Germany and now I want to have another good performance against Belgium.”
(On whether he was surprised to get the call to start against Germany…)
GONZALEZ: “I think that I was definitely surprised about getting the start. Jurgen [Klinsmann] wasn’t making too many changes in the lead up matches and then we had two pretty good performances against Ghana and Portugal so my mind set the whole time was if my name gets called then I’ll be ready. I definitely prepared and worked hard like the rest of the guys during the preparation camp and also leading up to the first couple of games. I wasn’t worried too much about what are the coaches thinking, or [wondering] am I going to get called now, am I going to get called before the first game? I was patient, I worked hard and I am happy that my name got called and I just basically went out there and do what I do.”
(On his goals for the tournament and whether he had any going in…)
GONZALEZ: “I think earlier on in the year I had more of a goal that I want to be starting every single game, but with my injury that happened leading up to the camp, there was even a question me not making the 23 man roster. Right before the World Cup happened all those goals went out the window and I just wanted to get myself ready for whatever happened. I worked hard to make the 23 man roster and then after that I worked hard to be whatever asset I can to this team.”
(On the importance of capitalizing on set pieces…)
GONZALEZ: “We think our set pieces are very important and we just need to be able to be more lethal when we have those opportunities. We are ready. Everyone knows their role. And when we do get set pieces we want to capitalize on those chances, but we don’t want to just count on set pieces. We want to get chances through the run of play, we want to find Clint [Dempsey], we want to get the ball out wide and get numbers in the box and capitalize on chances within the run of play and, of course, once we do get some corner kicks, some free kicks, we are going to do everything we can to score on those chances because we know that in these tight games that we’ve seen so far a lot of good chances come off of set pieces.”
Fan created videos are one of the best parts of the World Cup and the latest video may be the best one yet.
Entitled "Flip the script," the video by Tyler Wirfs will get you in the right frame of mind before Tuesday's all-important game.
Make sure to join the LA Galaxy at the official USA vs. Belgium viewing party in Redondo Beach.
The United States face a stiff test in the World Cup round of 16 match against Belgium, but LA Galaxy striker Landon Donovan believes that they're up for the task.
Speaking to reporters after the Galaxy's 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes at Stanford Stadium, Donovan spoke about the USMNT's chances ahead of Tuesday's match in Salvador.
"I think that it's going to be a good game and a difficult game," Donovan told reporters. "Belgium are a little inexperienced at this level, but a good team. If Thomas Vermaelen and Vincent Kompany can't play then it'll help us greatly. Let's hope that they win."
Donovan's supportive comments came just a day before an interview with Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke was released where he admitted that after being left off the World Cup roster, he rooted internally against the USMNT.
"I'll be completely honest, watching them play Azerbaijan, inside, part of me was thinking, I hope the game doesn't go very well today. In my heart of hearts, I thought, if we get a 1-0 win and the team doesn't perform well, that would feel good," Donovan told the L.A. Times. "Then the next day I woke up and said to myself, that's a really crappy way to feel. That's a bad way to live your life, it doesn't help me, it doesn't help the team, it doesn't help the energy that the team needs."
Will the U.S. get past Belgium? Thoughts on Donovan's comments?
Share your thoughts below.
On Monday, LA Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez will develop a lasting memory of his very first World Cup match when the U.S. takes on Ghana in their Group G opener.
But what about Gonzalez's first World Cup memory?
That goes back to the 1994 FIFA World Cup when Gonzalez was just a child living outside of Dallas.
"My first World Cup memory as a kid was at the Cotton Bowl, I got a chance to go to a few games as a volunteer," Gonzalez recently told LAGalaxy.com. "When I was there, my mom tells me that I used to mimic Bebeto's celebration."
Think Gonzalez will mimic that celebration if he scores?
A day ago, U.S. Soccer released 23 fascinating profile videos of each of the members of the 23-man U.S. National Team squad that will be competing in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
LA Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez's is perhaps one of the most interesting as he describes his love of cooking, the interesting way that he met his wife Erica and how he started his youth career in Dallas.
Check it out below.
Omar Gonzalez serves as late substitute as U.S. defeat Nigeria 2-1 in final World Cup Send-Off match
The United States attack came alive in a major way on Saturday thanks to a brace from Jozy Altidore as the Americans earned a 2-1 victory over Nigeria helping the U.S. compile a perfect 3-0-0 record in their "Send-Off Series."
Altidore scored in both halves with a tap-in to put the Americans ahead in the 32nd minute before tallying a confident strike in the 68th minute to seal the victory. The goals ended a six-month scoring drought for Altidore who had last scored for his club side Sunderland back in December 2013.
Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez checked in for Altidore in the 80th minute and just moments after he checked in, Nigerian striker Victor Moses was awarded a penalty after a defensive breakdown forced American center back Matt Besler to bring down the forward in the penalty area. Moses slotted the penalty past American goalkeeper Tim Howard to spark a Nigerian rally, but the U.S. held on for the victory.
The U.S. will head to Brazil in the coming days and play their final World Cup tuneup against Belgium in a closed-door scrimmage on June 12 in Sao Paulo. Klinsmann's group will open Group G play on June 16 against Ghana in Natal. Nigeria are in Group F alongside Iran, Bosnia and Herzegovina and tournament favorite Argentina. The Super Eagles open the tournament on June 16 against Iran in Curitiba.
Pleased by the result? Upset that Gonzalez did not start for a third straight match for the USMNT?
Share your thoughts below.
Walk around StubHub Center on a game day and you'll see tons of Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez jerseys, and it's no surprise that their popularity is translating nationally.
On Wednesday, MLS announced their top 15 best-selling jerseys of 2014 and the LA Galaxy's Designated Player trio were among the most popular. Landon Donovan was the highest ranked Galaxy player at No. 2, Robbie Keane checked in at No. 6 while Omar Gonzalez's kit is the eighth best selling jersey of 2014 so far. Seattle Sounders FC forward and U.S. National Team forward Clint Dempsey topped the MLS best-seller list.
The rankings are based on sales of adidas MLS jerseys on MLSgear.com and MLSGearCanada.com since the outset of the 2014 MLS regular season.
Robbie Keane to miss Chivas USA match to join up with Ireland for matches against Costa Rica and Portugal
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy will be without the services of Robbie Keane for their June 8 match against Chivas USA after the forward told reporters on Thursday that he will be reporting for the Republic of Ireland’s friendlies against Costa Rica and Portugal in the United States.
Keane told reporters that he’ll join up with the Irish National Team in Philadelphia ahead of their match against Costa Rica at PPL Park on June 6, following the Galaxy’s match against the Chicago Fire on Sunday at Toyota Park. Ireland will take on the United States’ Group G opponent Portugal on June 10 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Although the callup will force Keane to miss the Galaxy’s final game before the international break, the Galaxy captain said that the conversations between club and country went smoothly.
“Really, I should have been gone for four games because international teams have a priority in these situations when it is an international fixture on the schedule,” said Keane. “Ireland and Bruce spoke and they were happy if I played two games for the Galaxy and miss the Chivas game, that way I was missing two for Ireland and playing two for Ireland.
“I’m grateful for both teams and it’s one of those situations where I have to sit back and let the teams discuss it,” he added. “Of course, I want to be in both places and playing for both, but unfortunately, the way that schedule works. At the same time, it’s a good chance for [younger] players in Ireland to get games and experience.”
SAN FRANCISCO— Omar Gonzalez will look to make his case to be one of the two starting center backs for the U.S. National Team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Tuesday’s friendly against Azerbaijan at Candlestick Park.
Gonzalez has returned to training with the U.S. after suffering a knee injury against the Colorado Rapids in May, and was named to the 23-man squad for Brazil last Thursday. Whether or not he’ll start for the Americans is a point of contention, however, as he’ll face stiff competition from Geoff Cameron and John Anthony Brooks for his spot alongside Matt Besler in the USMNT backline.
As part of the continuing World Cup coverage on LAGalaxy.com, I’ll be covering Tuesday’s friendly from San Francisco and will provide reaction from Gonzalez following the match.
Do you believe that Gonzalez will get on the field against Azerbaijan?
Share your thoughts below.