U.S. Men's National Team

Gomez forcing his way onto U.S. World Cup radar

Herculez Gomez (ISIphotos.com)

Photo by ISIphotos.com

 For most Major League Soccer fans who have followed the closely for the past few years, the following sentence may not make much sense, and may leave many wondering if April Fool's came early this year, only it has not.

Herculez Gomez cannot stop scoring goals.

The former Kansas City Wizards forward/midfielder has scored six goals in his past seven matches for Mexican first division side Puebla since joining the club on a free transfer in January. Some goals have come as a starter, some as a substitute. Some have come in blowout losses, some have come late in matches to either win or equalize. Some have been headers, others with his feet.

Regardless of how they're coming or when they're coming, the fact is goals are coming in bunches for Gomez and now the inevitable question must be asked.

Should he be considered for the U.S. World Cup team?


Gomez's hot streak hasn't punched his ticket to South Africa just yet, but his form cannot be ignored and regardless of the defensive frailties of the Mexican league, Gomez is doing something that no other American forward is doing regularly at the moment. He is scoring goals.

The U.S. national team doesn't have the luxury to look past a prospect like Gomez, not when the other options in the forward pool have done little to secure their spots. Aside from Jozy Altidore, who projects as a starter, who else is a lock to make the team? You can argue that a healthy Brian Ching should make the squad, and everyone knows that Charlie Davies will and should be on the team if he's fully recovered in time, but after that it is a wide-open race.

Jeff Cunningham and Robbie Findley both scored in droves in MLS last season, with Cunningham leading the league in goals, but neither did all that much to impress in game action in recent friendlies, leaving the race wide open at forward.

Bradley is no stranger to Gomez, having called him up to be part of the 2007 Copa America squad, but the coach has had little reason to keep following Gomez considering he became a relative non-entity during stints with the Colorado Rapids and Wizards, which has made Gomez' recent renaissance all the more stunning.

It's not as if Gomez has never been a quality goal scorer before. He scored 12 league goals on the 2005 MLS Cup-winning Los Angeles Galaxy (including playoffs), but he could only match that total in his next four MLS seasons combined.

So which player is Gomez, the ineffective player we saw in MLS the past two seasons, or the fearless striker and quality finisher we saw glimpses of in 2005 and are seeing again in Mexico now? While Bradley is currently in Europe scouting national team players, he has probably already dispatched a scout to Mexico to see just how real the red-hot Gomez is. If Gomez keeps it up, Bradley will probably need to head to Mexico himself to find out.

Bradley will need to find out because as unsettled as the forward position is, the U.S. team can't afford to overlook anybody, least of all a player who has clearly found his goal-scoring form.


What do you think of Gomez's recent scoring streak? Think he deserves a look for the U.S. national team? Still not convinced he can help?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Joamiq

    You’re counting Scandinavia? Then, Michael Parkhurst, Clarence Goodson, Hunter Freeman, Chris Gbandi, and that’s with MLS spending a lot less on its players than the FMF…


  • Joamiq

    OK, don’t make up lies to support your position. JFT does not get “hammered” on this board. He’s probably one of the most championed USMNT players by SBI commenters.


  • DClee

    Couldn’t agree more Fischy and if they make it in another league they are the second coming of Pele and the MLS is given 0 credit for their development. Most of the people on here like to forget that all these Nat players that they love so much making it in Europe started and began developing their talent in MLS and if not for MLS half these guys might have never been given that chance overseas.


  • Dominic

    I think we’re just spinning our wheels here folks. Boss Bradley is too stubborn to follow anyone’s advice or direction when it comes to player selection. It’s either his way or the highway and we can surely see how that’s working out. All I’m hoping for is a new attitude and a new coaching staff so we can compete in 2014.


  • Joamiq

    I just Ctrl-F’d “Robinswood” and found a bunch of your comments on here, so, uh, yeah… no idea what you’re talking about.


  • Joamiq

    Ugh, I can’t believe I’m saying this, because I’ve watched him play plenty and I know he’s not very good, but Bob probably has to consider him. How can you not? That said, he’s going to have to score a lot more goals if he wants to make the team. I think he probably needs to remain among the league leaders.

    BTW, whoever said he’s scoring because he’s on a bad team where no one else can score is off base. Puebla has another guy in the top 10 in the league in goals as well.


  • Joseph D'Hippolito

    Ives, training camp is one thing; actual game action is another. Equating the two is foolish. Besides, I’m not ruling Gomez out. I’m just wondering how Bradley can evaluate him beyond scouting his league games. I know neither Findley nor Cunningham nor Casey (except for one game) have been great shakes, either. I’m just being realistic.

    (SBI-Joseph, nobody equated the two. You took that leap. Bob Bradley’s not bound by any restrictions prior to the June 1 date, so while he may name his 23 prior to the training camp, who is to say he won’t invite some alternates to the camp to train and potentially play in the friendlies?

    You may not recall but Michael Bradley wasn’t on the 2006 World Cup squad, but still trained in the training camp and earned his first two caps in the send-off series. Why couldn’t Gomez wind up in that same situation? He could continue to play well enough in Mexico to merit a call into the camp, a look in one or two of the friendlies, and a potential place on the squad before the June 1 official deadline to name the team.

    It’s possible Joe. Not saying it will happen, but it’s possible IF Gomez can continue to score goals.)


  • jj

    I’ve been watching Puebla games regularly. Here in San Diego, I can pick up the Azteca and Televisa digital channels from Mexico. Herculez Gomez is playing his dream. He’s happy, motivated, and gaining confidence with every game. Bradley should invite him for a look, But I don’t think he will. It might be too late. Bradley is very conservative. He already has his guys. Unless someone breaks down, He won’t change.

    I still think you pick whoever is playing well at the time, and Gomez deserves a chance to be seen. In Mexico, he’s playing forward. He’s expected to find the ball and score. In the MLS when He played for the Rapids and KC, two of the worst teams in MLS, He has played out of position with a bunch of unskilled players around him for years.


  • bizzy

    when compared to altidore, finley, johnson, casey, cunningham….give me a break, that boy is a killer!!! something out of nothing u say???? Nothing in that line up as far as I can tell, can pierce even the defense of Algeria let alone England. Strikers need to score goals period. So far only Gomez is doing that. In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king!!!!


  • bizzy

    Now thats what I’m talking about. “Knowing” where the ball is going to be and the “Finishing”. thats whats up kevin


  • bizzy

    “to be on our national team you need to have something special”!!!!! Now I understand. Finley, johnson, cunningham, altidore, casey are all special cases alright…..they cant score goals worth a dime!!!!


  • JCC

    Someone on Bigsoccer posted that Gomez is still eligible to play for Mexico because the Copa America games counted as friendlies because it isn’t the official tournament for the US or Mexico. I wonder if this is in fact the case.


  • Scott

    Finley, Johnson, Cunningham, and Casey are not special. ALTIDORE on the other hand def is.


  • Scott

    Starting 11 if Davies can’t make it: Howard — Spector, Demerit, Gooch, Boca — Beasley, Torres, Bradley, Donovan — Dempsey, Jozy. IF Dempsey or Jozy get hurt you move Donovan up and possibly push Torres over (or Holden) and bring in Edu, Clark, or possibly Jones. If it was up to me I would also have Adu on the bench but seeing as Bradley probably won’t do that I’d rather have Findley or Cunningham over Gomez.

    You are talking about hot streaks?!?! if you want to talk about hot streaks or consistency then why are you not set on Cunningham who scored 17 goals in 28 games! Oh yeah because scoring goals for your club team is not all that matters. GOMEZ IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH.


  • Scott

    you CAN CAN CAN do whatever you want. BUT Gomez still isn’t good enough to be on our National team. Rooney and Ruud are STILL completely different players than him. AND you have one of the gayest “screen names” I have ever seen.

    ANYWAYS Lil Zeke… am I hogging column inches and patronizing folks, or am I simply responding to comments? When it comes down to it in MY OPINION Gomez is not good enough to make our World Cup squad, if you don’t like my opinion and don’t want me “hogging” column space then simply laugh it off and move to the next one.


  • AngelUSAfan

    Funny thing Now I heard in Raza Deportiva in ESPN Radio En EspaƱol that The Mexican Wants him to play for the Mexican National Team. See if they want him to play for them and here we have guys talking about he is not good for the US Men national Team.


  • Justin

    No offense scott, but you haven’t made a good point against Gomez. Your argument about his goals being weak or lucky don’t stand. Your only solid “argument” is that Gomez lacks that special something that players like Altidore, Dempsey, and Donovan seem to have. (And thats a very weak argument at that) A lack of some sort of special intangible you cannot define isn’t enough to discredit a forward. We are lacking in the forward department, everyone who follows US Soccer knows that. We don’t have the luxury to ignore a player like Gomez, who is clearly getting very hot in a league that is much better than the MLS imo. He will get a look, and deserves to get a look for the national team, the end.


  • Scott

    “A lack of some sort of special intangible you cannot define isn’t enough to discredit a forward.”
    Why isn’t it? This isn’t just some team, this is OUR NATIONAL TEAM… the BEST players in the country. Players like Gomez are a dime a dozen, to me he is a CHEAP version of Brian Ching. He’s not fast, he can not create goals on his own, and so in turn hes just not dangerous enough to be paired next to Jozy. If Gomez goes to the World Cup, will he play? NO, so why waste a spot on the bench?


  • Bentonville

    That figures.

    Gerd Muller, one of the greatest strikers who ever lived ( for Bayern Munich he scored 398 goals in 453 games and for Germany he scored 68 goals in 62 games, winning the World Cup, and the European Championship with Germany and the European Cup 3 times with Bayern) would never pass your exacting criteria. The majority of his goals were tap-ins, close in, the sort of thing you would probably called garbage goals. I watched him a lot. He was short, stocky built like a bull with a low center of gravity,very strong and almost impossible to knock off the ball. Excellent in the air. I doubt he ever slalomed through 5 defenders Maradona/Messi style.

    He used to say that most chances came to you in the box at an awkward height ( between your shoulders and your knees) so you needed to practice somehow getting some part of your body on that ball to direct it goalward.

    At practice, he would stand in the box and have people rocket passes to him from all angles and at all kinds of speed and then send them all goalward. Do this often enough and eventually you get a feel for things.

    Great goal scorers are very skilled; it’s just that their skills aren’t necessarily pretty ones. If you think a guy like Muller was just lucky that much then you’re a fool.

    A player who scores great goals is not necessarily a great goal scorer.


  • Scott

    hahahahah WOW you are TRIPPIN… we are talking about GOMEZ here buddy… I’m not even going to acknowledge the book you just wrote


  • Bentonville

    This also figures. Let me put this in terms you can understand.

    I’m not addressing Gomez, who is probably just having a run of luck and playing crap teams. Players, even the worst ones, occasionally do that.

    I’m addressing your misguided,naive notion that the best forwards create something out of nothing. Players can do that but it is very rare. Most goals are the result of mistakes by defenders;great goalscorers know how to punish these.

    There are a lot more defensive errors in a given game than “moments of genius”. Since great goalscorers have to score a lot of goals, most of their total is made up of these. The average player ( Jozy Altidore) usually misses these. The great goalscorer ( Batistuta, Crespo, etc..) converts these.

    Simple enough for you?


  • Scott

    Are you drunk, high, or just dumb?

    You go from saying “horse poopy” to now trying to sound smart… that’s the first reason I can’t take you serious.

    Second, my WHOLE argument is about Gomez.. And now you are just saying comments that make my point…
    “Gomez, who is probably just having a run of luck and playing crap teams. Players, even the worst ones, occasionally do that.”
    — This is almost exactly what I’ve already said —

    AND lastly: “I’m addressing your misguided,naive notion that the best forwards create something out of nothing. Players can do that but it is very rare.”

    You want to know why its so rare? BECAUSE THEY ARE THE BEST FORWARDS IN THE WORLD!! We are not talking about how most goals are scored, we are talking about what the BEST forwards in the world CAN do. The BEST forwards CAN create something out of nothing regardless of how many of their goals are easy tap-ins.

    Simple enough for you??


  • Bentonville

    Bad day for you,huh? You ought not to get so stressed.

    I’ve seen Dempsey, for example, produce the occasional moment of genius but he is not a great goalscorer. This is something most good players can do once in a great while. No outfield player in the US pool is a great player.

    Watch the best players often enough and they too can give you that odd moment of genius, but mostly they are efficient at doing what they should do which is punish mistakes. Being able to come up with genius every once in a while does not make you a great player. Consistency does.

    The best forwards have the ability to perform consistently at the highest level on a regular basis to go along with the ability to pull one out of their rear ends every once in a while.

    Nobody in the US player pool even begins to approach that. Have a nice day, silly boy.


  • Scott

    No outfield player in the US pool is a great player?

    Landon Donovan isn’t a great player??

    I never said that “being able to come up with genius makes great players” but I am saying that the BEST forwards in the world not only punish mistakes but ALSO have moments of genius. (something I’ve yet to see out of Gomez)


  • Bentonville

    I could be wrong but I suspect you probably won’t ever see it out of Gomez (just a hunch).

    That’s right, Donovan is not a great player. Not if you are talking about worldwide.

    He could have been ( had things gone well in his earlier European stint) and maybe still could be but he isn’t one right now. He is currently playing at the highest level he ever has but unfortunately he is getting old and doesn’t have much time left at the highest level. My definition would have him perform at that level, maybe at a place like Chelsea, for a few years and I don’t know if he will get a shot at doing that.

    Right now, so much of his best game depends on his speed and quickness and that eventually goes. Plus, knock on wood, he has never been hurt and the odds could eventually catch up to him.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Chelsea, as has been rumored, buy him and I could see him doing well there, but the odds seem against it. Mind you, I would love it if he proved me wrong because I think the US public has either undervalued or overvalued him for years and I would like to see him win over the EPL fans for example. People have always said he was more suited for La Liga, which was code for he isn’t physical enough and I’m glad to see him prove those people full of it.


  • Scott

    I KNOW we will never see that out of Gomez.

    However, I disagree with you that Donovan is not a great player. The league you play in and/or the team you play on does not define someone as a great player. (However it is obviously true that most of the great players are currently in Europe)

    I think his quality at Everton is just proof that he wasn’t put into good situations in his prior stints in Europe. He played against some of the best teams in the World this time around and he actually stood out and set up goals. At times, against teams like Chelsea, he looked like the best player on the pitch.

    You seem a little hypocritical when you say he could be considered great IF he played for a team like Chelsea… but then towards then end of your statement you say you wouldn’t be surprised if Chelsea buy him. Is this because you think he deserves to be on a team like that, making him a great player?


  • Nathan Martin

    I’m a KC Wizards season ticket holder. So I’ve pretty much seen every pre-Puebla game that Gomez has played the last 2 years. Here is what the casual observer may not know: he had possibly the hardest shot in all of MLS. He was played at right mid with the Wizards which took away his shooting angle. He is also very fast and so it surprised me that he wasn’t able to score more goals in MLS despite being played out of position (he’s a forward, not winger). Seriously, I always talked about getting Gomez in the middle of the field so that he could have more opportunities.

    He is fast, hard-working, has a rocket shot, and is in-form. He should get a look like anybody else but he is not a premiere option — but as the article implies no US forward is.


  • Bentonville

    Donovan has the talent to be a great player but has never had the stage, the opportunity to prove it. Whether that is because he chose not to try or because he wasn’t good enough no one knows. Perhaps he will have his chance soon.

    Yes, he has been to World Cups but greatness is consistent performance over time at the highest level. History is full of World Cup stars who turned out to be busts at the club level.

    A great player needs that big club stage not just to prove it to others but also to have the intense pressure to keep his performance sharp. Donovan does not get that at the Galaxy.

    C. Ronaldo does not become as great a player as he is today if he stays at Sporting. Man U gave him the stage and gave him the testing environment to sharpen him and prove his worth.

    Donovan most clearly reminds me of Henrik Larsson who made his name at Celtic when Celtic were clearly second tier. He later moved to Barca and was loaned to Man U briefly in his declining years to give us a taste of what might have been.


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