Omar Gonzalez knows that he has an opportunity to accomplish something special at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. All he needs is his chance to shine.
Gonzalez and the United States arrived in Brazil ahead of the World Cup on Monday as they sit just a week away from their Group G opener against African powerhouse Ghana in Natal on June 16. That week of preparation is important for the Galaxy center back as he started all three of the team’s “Send-Off Series” matches on the bench, coming on as a second half substitute against Azerbaijan and Nigeria.
But even if Gonzalez doesn’t play a minute in Brazil, his presence in the tournament has already helped continue a grand tradition of Galaxy players at the World Cup. Since the team’s first match in the 1996, the Galaxy have had a representative at each of the past four tournaments.
In 1998 and 2002, it was LA legend Cobi Jones who carried the Galaxy flag to the tournament followed in 2006 by defender Chris Albright and Landon Donovan who represented the Galaxy in Germany. Four years later, Donovan again returned to the tournament in South Africa along with striker Edson Buddle.
This time around it will be Gonzalez who will carry the torch for Los Angeles, something that he’s eager to do.
“Being able to represent my club—the Galaxy—here at this level is everything. I know that, myself and the other MLS guys want to represent their club team as much as possible,” said Gonzalez. “We definitely want to help as much as we can to help this league grow, so doing well on this stage will definitely help that.”
But it won’t just be the Galaxy, who Gonzalez will represent when he dons his No. 3 USMNT kit in Brazil. The Texas-born son of Mexican immigrants also has a slew of people back home in Oak Cliff, Texas who will be rooting for him and the rest of the United States when they take the field in Brazil.
“Coming from Oak Cliff, Texas, I hope that I can be an inspiration to all the young kids there from my home town,” said Gonzalez. “I’m looking to represent my home town, the United States, my family, and make everyone proud.”
And if Gonzalez does get on the field and has a chance to stop the likes of Portugal—who the U.S. will face in the second group stage match in the Amazonian metropolis of Manaus on June 22—and superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, the Galaxy center back likes his chances.
“I’d like to think that I’ll be able to stop him,” Gonzalez recently told reporters. “It’s definitely going to take a lot of hard work, and we definitely can’t take any breaks during the game.”