CARSON, Calif. – Omar Gonzalez admits that he was a bit “nervous” that the left knee injury that he suffered two weeks ago could derail his hopes of playing for the U.S. National Team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The left knee “tweak” that he suffered while jumping up for a header in the first half of LA’s 1-0 defeat to the Colorado Rapids on May 3 occurred on the same left knee that required major surgery prior to the 2012 campaign.
But when the word came from U.S. National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann late last week that he had been included In the preliminary 30-man roster, the LA Galaxy center back was all smiles as he looks to fight for reach his first World Cup.
“Getting that phone call in itself was a great feeling. I definitely felt assured in myself knowing that I deserve to be there and the coaching staff believes that I deserve to be there,” Gonzalez told LA Galaxy Insider on Tuesday. “I feel great heading into this camp. I feel like I was really hitting a groove before the injury, but that was just a minor setback and I’m going into this camp full of confidence.
“It’s definitely very exciting to be one of the 30 called up for this camp. It’s going to be awesome being with the rest of the guys and preparing for such a great event and I can’t wait to go there and play like I know that I can and represent the United States.
“I’m coming along well [with my recovery],” Gonzalez added. “I’ve been speaking to the doctors and I think that I’m just excited to head off to camp with the national team and put in the hard work to prepare for Brazil.”
The 25-year-old defender admitted that he is already speaking to the training staff about his injury once he arrives at Stanford University later this week, but the early diagnosis is positive as Klinsmann told reporters in a teleconference on Monday that he expects Gonzalez to return to full fitness within the next week.
“By the end of the week he actually should be at 100 percent already. So he'll be just a few days late, which is alright. We'll have him from the beginning of next week going full speed with the group,” said Klinsmann. “Thankfully the injury was not that bad and it didn't take him out for much longer. Obviously the first moment we got the information [of the injury], we were a little bit worried."
Now that he has reached the preliminary roster, Gonzalez appears to be a safe bet to be among the 23 players that will head to Brazil after a strong 2013 season that saw him earn 14 of his 18 caps with the national team as he become a regular in Klinsmann’s starting XI alongside Sporting Kansas City center back Matt Besler.
Although the injury led to a few nervy moments for Gonzalez ahead of the roster announcement, the 25-year-old is focused on returning to full fitness as he looks to be in the starting lineup for the USMNT in Brazil.
“First and foremost, I want to be healthy on June 16 for our first [World Cup] game against Ghana,” said Gonzalez. “ I don’t want to hit the ground running right away [in camp], I want to make sure that everything is fine with my knee and once I’m cleared then I’m going to work my hardest to make the final roster and hopefully be starting in Brazil.”