Gonzalez's aerial presence key as defender wins MLS Cup MVP honors

CARSON, Calif. --There was only one word to describe Omar Gonzalez's performance in Saturday's MLS Cup -- omnipresent. 

Throughout the opening stages of the match, Gonzalez provided an immense presence in the air, consistently batting away crosses and dangerous chances from the Houston Dynamo. But Gonzalez's presence wasn't just on defense as in the 60th minute, the Galaxy defender scored the tying goal off a lofted cross by Juninho to pull LA level. Five minutes later, the Galaxy would take the lead for good off a Landon Donovan penalty kick that was won, in part due to another header by Gonzalez.

When the Galaxy took the lead, Gonzalez's work did not stop there as he was able to repeatedly able to silence the Dynamo defense en route to being named MLS Cup MVP -- becoming the first defender ever to win the honor. Following the match, Gonzalez admitted that his presence in the air was vital to LA's victory. 

"I think that's just what I have to do, game in and game out. That's what I'm known for, it was just like any other game. I had to get out of the nerves out of it and just focus on playing a good game. The whole team did well," said Gonzalez. "For me, winning MVP is great. I never thought that I would be winning it, it was pretty emotional for me because at the beginning of the year, I didn't see myself getting back to this level and I was just thinking if I was ever going to come back the same way. Today was really special for me, I know that I'm able to go even further now." 

After a season that saw him battle back from a serious knee injury to become the Galaxy's fulcrum in central defense, Gonzalez took a moment after the victory to reflect on the 2012 season.

“I think I was looking at it from a totally different perspective at the very beginning of this year. I was coming in maybe once a week when those hard times were happening and those days that I would come in, everyone’s heads would be down. I think Bruce’s experience just took over and said ‘we’re going to be fine,'  we ended up being just that," said Gonzalez. "In the very middle of the season everyone started turning around and everything turned out the way Bruce said. Everyone started fighting for each other and it just turned out to be an amazing season for me, myself, the organization. It’s just truly outstanding players and friends on this team that I’ve made. It’s been a really special year.”