CARSON, Calif. -- The CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal matchup between the LA Galaxy and Monterrey is an important and special contest for each member of the LA club, but it might just be more important to defender Omar Gonzalez.
Both sides of Gonzalez’s family hail Mexican state of Nuevo Leon—his father is from Montemorelos and mother is from Monterrey—and the defender made several trips to visit family in Monterrey as a child to visit relatives during summer and the holidays. But his trips weren’t limited to family visits as after his freshman year at Maryland; Gonzalez even had a trial with Monterrey’s inner-city rivals Tigres UNAL before opting to return to college.
“That's going to be amazing,” Gonzalez said of playing in Monterrey. “That one will be more special than the one here, I think, because I'll be playing in front of a bunch of family. My mom's going to fly down for the game, and it's going to be fun.”
Gonzalez even has a link to LA’s CCL semifinal opponents as his maternal uncle Lalo Rodriguez Plata served as the captain of Monterrey in the 1980’s. Gonzalez has yet to speak with his uncle about Wednesday's contest, but he did exchanged texts with him following his appearance for the U.S. National Team in a scoreless draw against Mexico at Estadio Azteca.
There are plenty of emotions swirling around the defender ahead of the match against his childhood club, but once the whistle blows, Gonzalez understands that LA have a match to win.
“We are playing against a team who has won this [tournament] twice, and my family is from there. My uncle used to play there,” Gonzalez said. “I just want this to be a good game. It's a good opportunity to show ourselves in front of a good Mexican club and just put ourselves on the map.”
To the Galaxy on the map however, Gonzalez will have his hands full as he looks to shut down a vaunted Monterrey attack led by star forwards Aldo De Nigris and Humberto Suazo.
“De Nigris, he's been good for a long time. He is a big presence, and he manages to get into the box always and always finishes off scoring chances,” said Gonzalez. “I've been watching [Suazo] on film. He scores amazing goals. His technical ability is great. He's very crafty and very clever, making great runs.”