Omar Gonzalez's loan deal to FC Nürnberg couldn't have gone any worse. In his first training session with the Bundesliga club last week, he collided with fellow American Timmy Chandler and tore ligaments in his left knee.
Though no diagnosis was available after the LA Galaxy team doctors examined Gonzalez upon his emergency return from Germany, head coach Bruce Arena said he doesn't anticipate getting the 2011 MLS Defender of the Year back until the tail end of the 2012 season. Still, that wasn't the most pressing worry on Arena's mind.
“It’s disappointing,” the Galaxy coach told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday. “I’m more disappointed for Omar than I am for my team although, believe me, I am concerned for the Galaxy. This was going to be a nice opportunity for Omar, something he wanted to do and we were happy to support him in it. It’s a shame because he’s a player who was coming into his prime.”
This is the second time in three years a Galaxy player has suffered a damaging injury while on loan. David Beckham tore his Achilles tendon in March 2010 while playing for AC Milan, an injury that kept him out of the World Cup. Beckham, though, was able to take the field for LA again later that year and Arena hopes the same for Gonzalez.
In the short-term, Arena said, he and the Galaxy will have to look at their options as far as finding "somebody or some players who can help fill that void” of the dominant 6-foot-5 center back.
A.J. DeLaGarza played the position for most of 2011 after Leonardo was lost to a season-ending injury, but beyond that, LA lack depth. Neither Leonardo nor Dasan Robinson – acquired from Toronto last September – has a deal to return in place yet. The Galaxy did, however, sign Re-Entry Draft pick Andrew Boyens to help bolster the back line.
Arena doesn't anticipate being able to find a replacement in Thursday's SuperDraft, and that a replacement player or two would “likely” come from abroad.
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.