MLS Cup MVP Gonzalez shines in Galaxy cup victory

Photo by ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

CARSON, Calif. — LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena has not had any conversations with U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann about centerback Omar Gonzalez.

That is likely to change after Saturday.

Gonzalez was named the MLS Cup final MVP following a dominant performance that helped the Galaxy defeat the Houston Dynamo en route to repeating as MLS champions at the Home Depot Center. Gonzalez was a rock in the back for a Galaxy defense that looked vulnerable for much of the first half, and he also provided the equalizing goal that helped shift momentum in the Galaxy’s favor in the second half.

For the 24-year-old Gonzalez, winning the MLS Cup MVP award was something he had never envisioned for himself, especially after tearing the ACL in his left knee this past January following a collision with Timmy Chandler while on a training stint at Nurnberg.

“It was pretty emotional for me after the game because at the beginning of the year I didn’t see myself getting back to this level,” said Gonzalez. “I had some days where I was just thinking if I was ever going to come back the same way. Today was really special for me because I know that I am able to go even further now.”

Gonzalez received plenty of plaudits after the match and rightfully so. He was masterful in the air against a Dynamo team that began the MLS Cup final by being more direct, which may have come as a result of his subpar outing in the second leg of the Western Conference finals against the Seattle Sounders. But he was also solid in his challenges and responsible for the game’s monumental momentum shift when he scored in the 60th minute on a play that came following a suggestion from midfielder David Beckham.

Minutes prior to Gonzalez’s equalizer, Beckham hit a corner kick that the hulking centerback failed to attack despite having the opportunity to do so. Beckham pulled Gonzalez over and told him to be more aggressive on chances like those, and the advice was heeded immediately.

“The next time the ball got near him when (Juninho) clipped it in and he went and got it and that was the obviously the moment that things changed,” said Galaxy forward Landon Donovan. “From there, we just kept putitng pressure and it felt almost inevitable that the second was going to come.”

Aside from calling Gonzalez’s headed finish the key moment in the match, Dynamo head coach Dom Kinnear also labeled the defender’s return from injury in July the likely turning point to the Galaxy’s season. Kinnear also acknowledged that the centerback’s play on the ground and in the air on Saturday was stellar.

The compliments from the Houston camp did not stop there.

“He’s a big defensive body, great in the air, we knew that coming in,” said Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis. “He was on his game. He played a very good game and when a player like that is on top of his game, he’s tough to beat.

“Credit to him, he made a great play on the goal he scored. It was a tough header. He did it well and he had a good game tonight. You just have to give him credit when that happened.”

Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said after the match and postgame celebration that he believes Gonzalez should be playing for the United States in the near future, and he was not the only one.

“He works hard, he listens, he’s a young player with a lot of talent that I hope at some point is going to play for the U.S. national team more regularly because he deserves it,” said Beckham before cracking a joke. “He’s been dancing around in (the locker room) naked, so he definitely deserves it after that.

“But no, he deserved the MVP today and we’re very lucky to have a young player with his talent in this team.”

Klinsmamn may soon be saying the same thing.

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39 Responses to MLS Cup MVP Gonzalez shines in Galaxy cup victory

  1. cj says:

    He will probably get calls in January to leave the Galaxy. Should he take them or wait till July for more competing offers?

    • shake says:

      Leave asap. This will give LA time to replace him, and it will help him prepare for the national team.

      • bottlcaps says:

        Absolutely NOT. Gonzales should stay put and cement his position with the USMNT.

        If he were to transfer to another (big) team in Europe, it would most likely take some time for him to jell and get a starting spot, maybe too long. In the mean time, JK may not call him up til he gets settled. Too much time and he ends up ceding a center back spot to Cameron or the (now settled and re-invigorated) Onyewu, who is STARTING for Malaga, a top 5 LA Liga team. Gonzales has been so snakebit when it comes to timing to make the USMNT, that he need to compete for the spot now and then after he has made (or not made) his mark, go look for another Big Euro team.

        • SuperChivo says:

          How can he cement a position with the USMNT when he has yet to be called up by Klinnsmann? He needs to do what is best for his career and let the USMNT fall in place when it does. Ultimately, this is a delicate dance between Omar, the MLS, and any European suitors, assuming that there are some. If he gets a chance to step up and it is a serious offer then how it may hypothetically affect a USMNT career that to date consists of a single match will have no weight on the decision at all.

          • A says:

            Klinsmann called Gonzalez up and then Gonzalez tore his ACL.

            You should educate yourself before looking like a fool.

            • GW says:

              The fact remains he has never played for Klinsmann

              • beachbum says:

                sometimes you make salient points, sometimes you flame out

                here’s some aloe vera

              • Hogatroge says:

                Let’s be real…
                *Boca’s injured and on the decline
                *Goodson’s club and NT form has been poor
                *Onyewu is making rare appearances for Malaga in non-league matches
                *Ream is riding pine, and playing DM when he does get PT
                *J.A.Brooks is even more untested than Omar
                *Mo Edu is a wild card
                *Besler is untested and unlikely to win a starting spot ahead of Omar
                *Hedges and Berry are inferior players and far too raw
                *Opara and Boss haven’t been impressing lately
                *DeMerit and Borchers are old and injury prone
                *Whitbread is uncapped, old, and very injury-prone

                Plus, JK has intimated that Omar would have been at the last round of WCQs if the Galaxy hadn’t been alive in the playoffs.

                He will have no problem breaking into the starting lineup by the 3rd game of the Hex. I don’t imagine JK will start him away at Honduras, though he could come on late if we’re chasing a goal.

            • SuperChivo says:

              So much for civility in public discourse. If that is the case, I can’t find evidence of it. Not that it changes anything, at this point in his career he makes the best move for himself.

              • A says:

                Don’t talk to me about civility in public discourse.

                You just outright made something up.

              • Hogatroge says:

                To be fair, Omar’s made 2 appearances for the USMNT (Brazil, Chile.

                JK allowed him to skip the last January camp in order to trial at Nuremburg.

                JK’s comments surrounding the last WCQs suggested that Omar would have been on the roster had the Galaxy not still been in the playoffs.

        • GW says:

          So turn down :

          A chance to test himself against better opposition and a more regular basis and become a better player

          A chance to probably at least quadruple his current salary because his value now is about as high as it is ever going to be.

          Why?

          JK wants players who want to be the best they can be not someone who is content to play it safe. And what has all his outstanding play at LA gotten Gonzo? He has been outstanding before this final you know.

          One cap. One lousy cap.

          He played well in this game but if you think that automatically makes him a starter for the USMNT you’re sadly mistaken.

          If he gets a good offer and it is the right situation for Gonzo, he’d be crazy not to transfer.

  2. Murphy says:

    That was a great header. I didn’t know he was 6′ 5″ and he got up high for that one. Him and Cameron could be a perfect central defense pairing for the U.S., right? I like his intensity too. Seems like a confident guy. Glad he got the MVP.

    • Bobb says:

      Time to get Goodson out of there altogether, and phase out Bocanegra who has given so much but is getting too old for this level.
      2013-14 defense:
      Johnson/Castillo/Lichaj —- Cameron/Besler/Ream —- Gonzalez/John/Brooks —- Chandler/Parkhurst/Beitashour

  3. Tony in Quakeland says:

    The good news: despite all the lip service given to service, defense, possession, positioning and so on, MVP awards and Man of the Match and player of the week awards always go to the guy who puts the ball over the line into the net, no matter how little he may have had to do the events leading up to the goal. So it’s great to see the nod go to a center back for a change. (Who happens to be one of my favorite young American players to boot.)

    The bad news: He had to score to get it.

    He probably would have been my pick anyway. How many times do you see someone just dominate a game from CB or the deep middle, giving shape, controlling the pace, really influencing the game, only to lose Player of the Week to someone who knocked in a couple rebounds. Compare the Galaxy’s record last year with Gonzales and the second half of this year with him, against the first half without him. An argument can be made that he makes everything work for them, that he is the team MVP. I wish the soccer media would back up their lip service paid to the heart of the game and single out this type of player more often.

    • beachbum says:

      You are seeing what i’m seeing. said he was the team MVP last year too, which is saying a lot

    • Bobb says:

      He owned San Jose, who inexplicably (or not, it is Yallop) ignored the fact that they were facing a talented 6’5″ dude who is great in the air and continued with their “cross it in to Lenhart/Gordon” style and were beat to every ball in the air.

  4. chuck says:

    No talks with Klinsmann but perhaps with De la Torre??

    *panics*

    • FSegaud says:

      I really doubt Mexico is a threat to snatch him at this point.

      • bottlcaps says:

        Wrong. Mexico MNT AND Mexican Liga teams have approached him for several years. They know a good player when they see it. Gonzales has always preferred to play and work in the US, but he is not tied to the US …yet

  5. Todd Marsch says:

    I don’t see that many Galaxy games, but from what I’ve seen, Gonzalez has my vote for inclusion in the national team pool. He seems to be of the same type as Goodson and Onyewu, but younger and in better form than either of them.

    That being said, what do others think about distribution at the next level and his ability to deal with smaller, quicker forwards? Like I said, I haven’t seen Gonzalez play that many times, but those would be my question marks about his national team potential just based on the type of player he seems to be. It would be great if instead of looking for the next generation Onyewu/Goodson, we could actually find a player who significantly upgrades the type of CB we use (something which Cameron seems to have the potential for).

    • GW says:

      Well, you saw how much trouble he had with Calen Carr.

      Do you think it is a coincidence that the Galaxy took over once Carr stopped driving their back four nuts?

      • Catamont says:

        Take a look at the replay on the Carr goal. Gonzalez had the defense in the right place, midfield (Beckham and Juninho were worried about the left flank. Ball goes to the middle exposing Tommy Meyers. Meyers didn’t anticipate and it was left for Gonzalez to mop up. Good finish and sketchy goal keeping later (1-0) Houston.

        Not excusing Omar, but it is a long stretch to say he had trouble with Carr. The midfield had trouble dealing with the combination of Davis, Carr and Garcia. The Galaxy took Garcia and Davis out of the game leaving Carr to roam. He did well and deserves credit. Houston seems to always lack the one or two players necessary to get past the Galaxy. Carr leaves the game and they simply had no other options with the quality necessary. The Galaxy seem to have those options in players like Sarvas, De La Garza/Tommy Meyers, Villareal, etc.

      • bottlcaps says:

        It was Gonzales that was a fraction late in the offside trap that sprung Carr. But it was the rookie Meyers who was marking him and actually made a (weak) attempt to nudge him before his goal shot.

        The Galaxy respected the speed Carr represented and so gave him room by dropping the backs a bit farther back. Once he was gone, it allowed Franklin and Dunivant to go forward more and because the backs were more forward, they were able to effectively pin Houston back and counter more.

        • Limey says:

          People are making way too much of this Carr injury, the Galaxy were rolling and there was no way Houston could hold them.

      • beachbum says:

        Meyer had Carr

    • chris_thebassplayer says:

      I agree, I have always had a ton of respect for Omar. I’ve had my doubts about his lateral movement, distribution and positioning at the international level. His distribution is noticeably better this season. He hit a handful of long accurate passes to mids in the 2-2 season ending tie with the Quakes that were very impressive. He will get his chance to impress JK and I hope for the sake of the nats he does well. He’s already way better than Goodson and Parkhurst. He absolutely needs to get out of MLS as soon as possible to continue his development. I would hate to see LA throw big money at him to try to make him stay. He already owns the box in MLS, he needs to be challenged overseas.

    • Gary Page says:

      Galaxy fan here, have seen maybe 90% of Gonzalez’ games. I think he has become more mobile SINCE his injury. Don’t know why that is, as it seems counter-intuitive, but he seems quicker, slimmer and faster since recovering from his ACL. His passing also seems to be better. Don’t know that his passing is up to European standards, but he is improving and I have seen him recently bring the ball up field on occasion, one time dribbling just about all the way to the top of the opponent’s box when he wasn’t challenged. Before he was mostly boom long kicks forward.I have been a big fan of his and believe he definitely needs to be included in a friendly at least and I hope he gets a chance to play in Europe although it will leave a big hole in the Galaxy defense.

  6. JoeSchmoe says:

    Should have gone to the Irishman without question. Calen Carr utterly embarrassed Gonzalez almost every trip down the field until he was forced off with the injury. Gonzalez wasnt even the best defender on his own team.

    Anybody who watched that game saw journeyman Carr abuse him. To then see that same player get MVP is just astonishing. Mickey mouse league to the end.

  7. BrianVT says:

    Does anyone know what kind of treatment he had for his ACL? Having torn it in Jan, to be playing at a professional level in Jul, I’d be surprised if I heard that he had a graft. Anyone?

  8. Hal says:

    lets see him go to Europe and see how he does. It’s hard to measure a player in the MLS when they are often playing against guys that would be lucky to make a League 1 side.

  9. Drew says:

    Personally would like to see Omar and Cameron together at CB. See them as a great combination for a very attacking defense if they are flanked by Johnson and Chandler come World Cup time. Obviously, a lot has to go right, but I think the development of Omar could be enormous for the team.

  10. beachbum says:

    just rewatched the game. Gonzo was awesome. Carr got by him once, dancing along the side line, that’s it.

    Keane was brilliant, LD came on strong, and David Beckham kicked ass hustling his own every second on the field