WHO: Omar Gonzalez
WHEN: Saturday, August 3
WHERE: vs. Juventus (Guinness International Champions Cup) – Dodger Stadium
WHAT: While summer friendlies against European powers are commonplace for the Galaxy, success in those matches played in Southern California has been less frequent. In fact, in 10 matches since the start of 2005, the Galaxy had gone 0-7-3 in friendlies against European sides in Southern California, losing to the likes of Barcelona, Chelsea, Rangers and Real Madrid while playing to a tie against AC Milan, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. However, playing as part of the first soccer games at the historic Dodger Stadium, the Galaxy were able to snap that streak and send the home fans happy, beating reigning Italian champions Juventus 3-1.
The game’s opening goal came from an unlikely source as Omar Gonzalez got his team on the board in the 36th minute, finishing in right-center field with the same joy that had been shown on the same stretch of grass by the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig throughout the Major League Baseball season.
In addition to finishing the move that led to the goal, Gonzalez started in, collecting a pass near the center stripe and playing a ball forward toward the feet of Michael Stephens. With a Juventus draped all over his back, Stephens was only able to pass the ball back to Juninho, who had begun to push forward on the play. The Brazilian midfielder collected the pass and split a host of defenders, finding Gonzalez, who had continued his run forward, in stride. With legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon racing off his line, Gonzalez clipped a shot over him and into the back of the net, giving the Galaxy a 1-0 lead. And while the result was inconsequential, the depth of the celebration showed just how much games like these mean to the players.
To see the rest of the candidates for LA Galaxy Goal of the Year, go to LAGalaxy.com/GOTY.