TORRANCE, Calif. – After a two year absence, Omar Gonzalez is back with the U.S. National Team and now that he has arrived, the LA Galaxy center back is eager to make his mark.
Gonzalez was among the 25 players called into the squad by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann for the annual January camp at The Home Depot Center ahead of the Jan. 29 friendly against Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. The 24-year-old defender joins the camp after a rollercoaster 2012 that saw Gonzalez go from knee surgery in January to MLS Cup MVP in December. (watch video above)
With the U.S. facing a loaded schedule over the next calendar year with World Cup Qualifying, Gold Cup, and friendlies all on the docket, Gonzalez is ready to fight for his place on the U.S. depth chart.
“It’s been a long time, it’s been almost two years now and it feels good to be back. It’s a brand new coach for me and I know that he’s been here a while now, but for me it’s a new thing,” said Gonzalez. “Obviously, I’d like to show well and I’d like to be a person who he thinks can play in these qualifiers and have a huge influence on this team. That’s where I want to be.”
The camp will be Gonzalez’s first under Klinsmann as he last donned the U.S. shirt under former U.S. boss Bob Bradley for a January 2011 friendly against Chile. Gonzalez was called-up by Klinsmann last January, but withdrew as he joined German club FC Nurnberg on a short term loan, a move that ended after a single day when he tore his left anterior cruciate ligament during a training session. Although Gonzalez has not played a major role with the U.S. yet in his career, Klinsmann kept tabs on the defender particularly during his recovery from ACL surgery. When the roster for the camp was announced, Klinsmann quickly sent a text to Gonzalez stating that he was excited to finally work with the talented center back.
“We were waiting for him quite a while because he had his injury. He was supposed to sign for a German club a year ago and then he got injured there and came back and had to wait until he was fit again, then played a tremendous second part of the season. We’ve have him on our plate for a while so we’re excited that he’s in the camp.
“We want him to prove his point, to understand that there is another level waiting for him and that he has to work for that level,” Klinsmann added. “He has to develop confidence and personality to get to the international level. We are curious, but there is no pressure because we’ll help him in that process.”
Ahead of an important month, Gonzalez asserts that the camp could be his chance to, at long last, become a regular with the U.S. team.
“I’ve heard the media [call the January camp] “Camp Cupcake,” but this camp is really meaningful, the World Cup is next summer,” said Gonzalez. “Right now, there is no time for resting or sitting on your laurels. I just need to show well in this camp and I think it could mean tremendous things for me going forward. It’s a chance to get my foot in the door and I’m going to take it.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com