WASHINGTON— While the LA Galaxy were decompressing from their trip to the White House on Tuesday night, LA center back Omar Gonzalez was helping the United States earn an historic scoreless draw with archrival Mexico at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
The Galaxy defender played the full 90 minutes and received considerable accolades throughout the region for his impressive performance against El Tri. Whether it was with his aerial presence or physicality, Gonzalez proved too much for Mexico’s vaunted strike force of Javier Hernandez and Giovani Dos Santos as he was responsible for seven clearances and four interceptions on the night.
After watching the U.S. match from the team's hotel in Washington D.C., LA head coach Bruce Arena, who confirmed that Gonzalez will join the club in D.C. on Wednesday, admitted that he was impressed with his center back’s showing for the U.S.
“I thought he played well in a game that they certainly needed to be solid defensively because they weren’t going to be able to generate much going the other way,” Arena told LAGalaxy.com following Wednesday’s training session at Georgetown University. “The focus and concentration by Omar and the U.S. team was excellent.”
Gonzalez’s longtime teammate and center back partner A.J. DeLaGarza agreed.
“I thought he did well. I think that he was maybe Man of the Match, but I thought that the defense all preformed pretty well, even though there was question marks going into it,” DeLaGarza told LAGalaxy.com. “It was a different lineup than it was [when the U.S. defeated Costa Rica 1-0 last Friday], but they’re all experienced and good players and it showed.”
When Gonzalez returns to the Galaxy, he’ll return for a busy set of fixtures that will see the Galaxy take on Toronto FC on Saturday before a crucial two-leg CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal against Mexican giants C.F. Monterrey, giving the team three important games in an 11-day span.
But in June, Gonzalez will likely be called up by U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann once more as the U.S. face a vital three-game set that will see them travel to Jamaica on June 4 for a match in Kingston, before two games at home against Panama on June 7 in Seattle and Honduras on June 18 in Salt Lake City. Those two matches will likely go a long way to determine the U.S. fate in 2014 World Cup qualifying as the U.S. currently sits in third place in the “Hexagonal” standings with four points, just one point behind group-leader Panama.
As the U.S. continue their qualification for the World Cup, Gonzalez’s old college teammate DeLaGarza believes that he’ll remain a part of the U.S. set up for many years to come.
“I would expect him to be, even if he didn’t have his best game and for him to have a game like that against Mexico definitely raised his stock,” said DeLaGarza. “He can only go forward so it’s a great experience for him and I’m happy for him.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com