LA Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez took part in a brief conference call with Los Angeles based reporters ahead of Tuesday's World Cup round of 16 match between the U.S. and Belgium.
During the call, Gonzalez was asked about a myriad of topics including defending the Belgian attack, whether or not he'd start the match and the U.S.' attacking plans.
Check it out below.
(On what Belgium offers as an opponent…)
GONZALEZ: “Well I think that what we’ve talked about as a team is that they aren’t much different than what we’ve seen so far. They pretty much field sort of the same lineup that we’ve seen and it’s going to be no surprise tomorrow. We know that they have very talented players, but they are definitely not more talented than what we faced already and the talent that we’ve seen in Germany and also going up against the likes of Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo. We know that it is going to be a tough challenge. Belgium is a young talented team and I think we are ready. I think we’ve prepared well and it’s going to be a fun game tomorrow.”
(On Belgium’s talented attackers and their movement up top as a challenge…)
GONZALEZ: “Their movement is very good up top and it’s going to be very challenging for us but as long as we can keep them in front of us and give support to our wide guys when they have [Eden] Hazard or [Dries] Mertens coming at them. Just provide support so that we don’t get a lot of one versus one out wide, and if they do get a one versus one out wide, we need to be sure to follow runners inside the box because they have some big guys who can definitely get to the ball.”
(On his confident performance against Germany and on how he can have a confident performance against Belgium…)
GONZALEZ: “I am feeling good. [My] Body has recovered well and I am looking forward to getting on the field tomorrow and putting on a solid performance. What I can do is do is basically what I did last game… be mobile, provide cover for my other defenders, I think we want to be a bit more aggressive. I think that we were too late to getting to the German guys the last game and we want to make sure to not let them have too much possession. If they do have possession then [we want to make it] not make it easy for them. That’s something that I want to help [shore] up and I can do that [through] a lot of communication and getting down in the right position so that they are able to get to the ball further.”
(On if he feels he locked down his starting spot for the Belgium game…)
GONZALEZ: “I can’t speak too much about locking down any kind of spots right now. Right now my mind is just about the team here and so I’m not looking for any personal gain here. If my name gets called upon again then I’m going to work just as hard as anyone else on that field. Tomorrow it’s going to take another great team effort and I’m hoping that I believe our team is very strong. We put together good team performances so that’s where I am at right now and I’m going to fight for the guy next to me.”
(On the support the team is receiving in the United States…)
GONZALEZ: “I have a pretty good idea just by following social media, you hear about the watch parties and you see the pictures and videos and you see the amount of fans that are going. It makes me really happy to see the fans back home rallying up behind us and it’s definitely not any more added pressure, I think it makes us want to work harder [because] we want to give them a great performance. I think as long as we put forth everything we’ve got, everyone can be happy about that but hopefully we can give them a win.”
(On criticism coming his way and feelings turning around after his performance against Germany…)
GONZALEZ: “I’m not really worried about what people say out there. It’s pretty telling how quickly people can go from talking crap, or criticizing and then all of the sudden being in your corner if you have a good performance. My worry isn’t what people are thinking, what I am staying focused on is my team, the 23 guys that are here, and my coaches and all I have to worry about is what they think. As long as they feel that I am doing a great job, then I’m happy. One thing that I want to do is stay consistent. I’m coming off a good performance against Germany and now I want to have another good performance against Belgium.”
(On whether he was surprised to get the call to start against Germany…)
GONZALEZ: “I think that I was definitely surprised about getting the start. Jurgen [Klinsmann] wasn’t making too many changes in the lead up matches and then we had two pretty good performances against Ghana and Portugal so my mind set the whole time was if my name gets called then I’ll be ready. I definitely prepared and worked hard like the rest of the guys during the preparation camp and also leading up to the first couple of games. I wasn’t worried too much about what are the coaches thinking, or [wondering] am I going to get called now, am I going to get called before the first game? I was patient, I worked hard and I am happy that my name got called and I just basically went out there and do what I do.”
(On his goals for the tournament and whether he had any going in…)
GONZALEZ: “I think earlier on in the year I had more of a goal that I want to be starting every single game, but with my injury that happened leading up to the camp, there was even a question me not making the 23 man roster. Right before the World Cup happened all those goals went out the window and I just wanted to get myself ready for whatever happened. I worked hard to make the 23 man roster and then after that I worked hard to be whatever asset I can to this team.”
(On the importance of capitalizing on set pieces…)
GONZALEZ: “We think our set pieces are very important and we just need to be able to be more lethal when we have those opportunities. We are ready. Everyone knows their role. And when we do get set pieces we want to capitalize on those chances, but we don’t want to just count on set pieces. We want to get chances through the run of play, we want to find Clint [Dempsey], we want to get the ball out wide and get numbers in the box and capitalize on chances within the run of play and, of course, once we do get some corner kicks, some free kicks, we are going to do everything we can to score on those chances because we know that in these tight games that we’ve seen so far a lot of good chances come off of set pieces.”