When word came out that Omar Gonzalez had injured himself on his first day on loan in Germany, the speculation wasn't good. Their were first opinions and second opinions, and it seemed likely Gonzalez could miss all of this season. That he was able to come back as soon as he did, without a relapse, is nothing short of remarkable.
Yet, he would never been one the brag about himself. Despite being one of the most talented players in the 2009 draft (you can coin flip between him and Steve Zakuani) he still plays the role of young player that just wants to work hard and learn from the veterans. It's earned him the respect of his peers.
"Omar isn't just a special player," said David Beckham, "he's a special person as well. He works hard, he listens. He's a young player with a lot of talent. I hope someday that he will play for the U.S. national team more regularly because he deserves it."
Certainly it's true that Gonzalez deserves a long look from Jurgen Klinsmann, especially as the back line is a questionable spot for the United States going into the Hexagonal stage. Beckham here was just asked how he felt about Omar's MVP performance, the fact that he feels Omar is a special person was unsolicited. Of course, Beckham also let this nugget go.
"He's been dancing around in there [locker room] naked, so he definitely deserves it after that. He deserved the MVP today and are very lucky to have a young player with his talent on this team."
Not only did Gonzalez' presence on set pieces completely turn the match around in the Galaxy's favor, but the adjustments he and the back line made in handling Houston's forwards kept the Dynamo from getting a second goal in that first fifteen minutes after halftime.
"I think when you’re looking at players like [Calen] Carr and [Will] Bruin," said Gonzalez, "they just want to make runs behind you. Today we just tried to keep them in front of us and drop early because we knew they were going to be sending balls to out wide and we tried to step into those places before they did and on the goal they scored we ended up getting caught high. We ended up not doing so well on that play and I think that we realized that, we corrected it and it didn’t really happen again. So you just got to keep those guys in front of you, make sure if they are getting the ball in the middle, just put pressure on them. I thought everyone did great."
It was Gonzalez who didn't step up in time on the offside trap, keeping Carr onside for that goal just before halftime. When asked to reflect on the season, Gonzalez didn't mention his injury. He said that he was coming in once a week during the early struggling days, and that everyone's heads were down.
"I think Bruce’s experience just took over and said ‘we’re going to be fine’. We ended up being just that. In the very middle of the season everyone started turning around and everything turned out the way Bruce said."
The players continually mention how Bruce pulls them all together, or Donovan, or Beckham. Someday Omar Gonzalez is going to be one of those players everyone rallies around. Hopefully he does it as a member of the Galaxy, because LA fans would love to be around when it happens.