Gonzalez making steady progress on comeback trail

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By ADAM SERRANO

CARSON, Calif. — Omar Gonzalez has every reason to be optimistic.

The 2011 MLS Defender of the Year's recovery process has been going well and Gonzalez has trained fully with the club for the past two weeks. On Monday afternoon, Gonzalez bypassed yet another hurdle as he went 45 minutes with a Galaxy reserve squad in a scrimmage against the club's Under-18 side.

In the scrimmage, Gonzalez did not show any of the signs of a player that underwent surgery for torn knee ligaments in January as he was active. He instead showed flashes of the Gonzalez of old.

"Today was just to see how I am and how my fitness is coming along," said Gonzalez. "I got a little bit tired towards the end, but we’re playing against our academy so I didn’t have to get up for a lot of headers or do a lot of defending so for the most part, I think I did well, but I wasn’t really tested so all in all, I’d say it was a pretty good day."

Since undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee in January, Gonzalez's recovery has been a steady one.  For the first three-and-a-half months, Gonzalez was apart from the team while he underwent physical therapy. Following Monday's scrimmage, Gonzalez admitted that his time away from the Galaxy was "a bit of fresh air" and responsible for igniting a greater fire within him that has helped him as he makes his return.

His initial prognosis placed his return at seven to nine months, but with 45 minutes under his belt, Gonzalez expects that he may re-take his place in the Galaxy back four sooner rather than later.

“It is a moving target. We still don’t know yet,” Gonzalez said. “At the end of this month or early next month is my goal. But you never know, maybe I’ll surprise you guys.”

While a surprise return is a possibility, Gonzalez's teammates believe that he'll only return when he's fully ready to contribute.

"I think that the last thing that you want to do is wait for a guy six months and rush him one or two weeks so I’m hopeful," said Landon Donovan. "I don’t know anything about the medicine side of it and I’m not a coach, but our guys will make sure that it’s handled in the right way and he won’t be back too soon so something else happens. "

Although the 23-year-old has been extremely pleased with his recovery process, he was not immune to the mental barriers that are apparent with all players who recover from a serious injury. Gonzalez admitted to reporters on Monday that he has eased into tackles at times and can sense his teammates are doing the same with him, which he believes has been invaluable as he regains his confidence on the field.

While the club is being extra careful with Gonzalez as he makes his return, it did not prevent one scary moment in training last week.

"I had one scare last week when Clarence [Seedorf] was here, he took a shot and I tried to block it and it twisted my foot and my knee," said Gonzalez. "That was actually a good little scare because it made me feel like my knee is good, my knee is ready and the next day when I came out I had a great day."

With his knee feeling better and better, it is unlikely that the Gonzalez’s teammates will need to show restraint in training for much longer. And Gonzalez admits that when he's ready, he'll let his teammates known in his own special way.

"I’ll just crack them," he said with a smirk.

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21 Responses to Gonzalez making steady progress on comeback trail

  1. Tony in Quakeland says:

    As the state of the Galaxy makes clear, he is the retroactive team MVP. I’m rooting for him to get back on track – the Nats need him

  2. Will says:

    Arena is absurd to count on this guy this season. The minute he went down they should have been looking for an adequate replacement.

    LA’s depth is weak compared to other teams that are ready to strengthen their squads.

  3. Old School says:

    Unrelated:

    What’s up with our boys at Rangers? I see Naismith just signed with Everton on a free.

    Is Edu, Boca & Bedoya soon to follow on exiting that train wreck?

  4. Siberian says:

    Really hope he comes back strong and can still get that transfer to Europe.

  5. soccerhorn says:

    Please Jesus let Omar get back to 100%. Galaxy is still terribly vulnerable in the back and the Nats need him too!

  6. gerald says:

    Getting Gonzalez back at the beginning of August could be a nice boost for the last 10-12 matches

  7. DT says:

    Given what we now know about Timmy Chandler’s loyalty to the US, does anyone think that there was a little bit of maliciousness on Omar during his time at Nurenburg?

  8. Sean says:

    Really? We honestly know nothing about that. Just because he hasn’t fully made up his mind yet means he had someone try to injure a player? That’s asinine.

  9. froboy says:

    That is among the more ignorant comments I’ve seen on this blog, what possibly would have been his motivation. Chandler feels no hostility for the US, he has put on the jersey. In the worst case he is just holding out for Germany, but would have no reason to hurt a guy who has never put on the shirt for us. Also not that easy to tear someone else’s ACL on purpose

  10. EgoBrain says:

    He may never be the same again. Looks like Arena is back to sleepwalking for the first half of the season. Hopefully they are looking at bring some reinforcements in. They have to do better in CCL.

  11. biff says:

    Although initial reports cited (before they were toned down), if memory serves me correctly, that a “crunching tackle” was responsible for Omar Gonzalez’s injury, I doubt very much that Timothy Chandler intentionally tried to injure Gonzalez. But as I have said in the past, I think it is possible there is more to the story than has up to this point been made public. It just seems unfathomable to me that in the first 30 minutes of practice in Turkey after a three-week Christmas break that a 1. Bundesliga team would be doing full-contact drills. Of course, I could be wrong and maybe this is standard-operating-procedure. But I would not be surprised if there is another story, maybe boys-being-boys horsing around or Chandler showing off and being the big guy and maybe a bit too exuberantly showing the new American what life is like in a Bundesliga practice and–Uhhh-ohhh! Sorry about that, Omar.

    I hope at some point a reporter asks Gonzalez to tell the story. In the meantime, I am hoping Gonzalez can return to his previous form and find a good team to play for in Europe (please not Nurnberg) and that Klinsmann calls him up to the Nats for a tryout.

  12. Hector says:

    Too late if they want to be contenders

  13. Gnarls says:

    Not too late if they continue to hover around 5th-6th in the West.

  14. Gnarls says:

    We need him back asap, but it’d be a huge disappointment (to LA and USMNT fans) for him to rush back prematurely and re-injure himself.

  15. Nick in LA says:

    Our depth is weak? I think you mean the opposite. We have the most depth in the league. We have about 20-21 players who can be good starters in MLS on our roster. We’ve had a ton of injuries and we keep finding players. Our third string keeper is better than a lot of starting keepers. Depth has not been our issue. Our issue is a disconnect in defensive communication and Chad Barrett/Edson Buddle. That’s close to 450k in salary for two terrible strikers.

    We are in 5th despite our problems and with a win tomorrow against Philly and a win this weekend in Chicago, we are well on our way back to the top of the West. Omar coming back soon is just gravy and I think most of the league should be wary of that. Think about this. David Junior Lopes doesn’t get to play when Omar gets back. That means no 1-2 free goals per game for the opposition. We’re good.

  16. hogatroge says:

    Not an LA fan, but hope all goes well for him. Clutch player last year.

    From a USMNT perspective, Gooch 2.0 is badly needed. If all goes well, a Gonzo – Cameron partnership in the backline might be an decent replacement for Gooch – Bocanegra.

  17. Dinho says:

    baby jesus?

  18. Gnarls says:

    No, Jesús, the lead groundskeeper at the Home Depot Center.

  19. Gnarls says:

    +1

  20. josh says:

    You bring an interesting point… he should be named MVP this year, as demonstrated how awful LA have been without him. You don’t necessarily have to play to have your value proven, right?

  21. PetedeLA says:

    Or Goodson continues to improve… which I wouldn’t put past him.

    Some might also say that Spector’s natural position is in the back.

    Omar’ss been great in MLS, but we’ll see if he’s fast enough for top competition.

    I think the pressing need is for a Demerit type.