CARSON, Calif. – Omar Gonzalez will join the United States at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, but he’ll be staying around StubHub Center to help the LA Galaxy take on Vancouver Whitecaps FC first.
U.S. Soccer announced late on Thursday that the LA Galaxy center back had been called up by U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann as one of the four changes to his squad. Gonzalez will not join the U.S. team until after LA’s match against the Whitecaps on Saturday, meaning that for the defender to be a part of the American squad at the Gold Cup, they must win their quarterfinal match against El Salvador on Sunday in Baltimore.
The announcement comes a day after Gonzalez and head coach Bruce Arena stated that the 24-year-old center back was unlikely to join with Klinsmann’s squad for the Gold Cup, but at around 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Gonzalez noticed that he had a missed call on his cell phone.
“I was getting ready for the ESPYs and I came back to my phone and I saw that I had a missed call from Jurgen,” said Gonzalez. “It was pretty much a surprise, but I’m happy that I got the call up. First and foremost though, we have to be able to take care of business on Saturday with the Galaxy then I can worry about shifting focus to the national team on Sunday.”
Whereas the other three players that Klinsmann selected to join the U.S. squad were leaving their respective MLS squads to immediately meet with his team ahead of their quarterfinal match up, Gonzalez will stay with the Galaxy until after LA’s clash with Vancouver on Saturday.
When asked about the Galaxy’s conversations with U.S. Soccer to keep Gonzalez an extra game, head coach and general manager Bruce Arena stated that “we don’t discuss those things. Omar will be here Saturday.”
Gonzalez is pleased to stick around a little while longer as the club looks to get back to winning ways after a disappointing late defeat to the Portland Timbers a week ago—even if it means missing the quarterfinal.
“I think that it’s great. I want to stay here and get the win with the Galaxy against Vancouver then leave on a high note,” said Gonzalez. “I know that [the U.S.] are going to take care of business and then I’ll do whatever I can to help the team win [after].”
The U.S. have impressed so far at the Gold Cup, easily winning Group C with three straight victories. During their group stage, the U.S. has scored a whopping 11 goals—six coming against Belize in the group opener—while conceding just two. Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan has done his share of damage on the offensive end during those three matches with the U.S. as he’s tallied two goals and three assists.
If the Americans reach the semifinal, Gonzalez is likely to reprise his role in central defense alongside another one of Klinsmann’s call-ups, Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler. No matter where he’s placed in the squad though, Gonzalez is ready to contribute.
“I’m hoping to step in and be a good teammate. I don’t know what my role is, but I’ll make an impact whatever way that I can,” said Gonzalez. “I’m going there to win the tournament because I want to be a part of the Confederations Cup the next time around.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com