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U.S. Men's National Team

Gomez impresses in rare USMNT start

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Photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com


By FRANCO PANIZO

LANDOVER, Md. – Herculez Gomez is not unfamiliar with taking advantage of opportunities, and it appears he has made the most of a chance once again.

In his first start with the U.S. men's national team in nearly two years, Gomez put forth an impressive outing in a 4-1 loss to Brazil on Saturday night at FedEx Field that included a goal that trimmed a 2-0 deficit. His 90-minute outing against the Brazilians was also impressive for other reasons, such as his ability to draw fouls and the kind of runs he made off the ball. And all those elements combined may have just won him a starting role with the team for the near future.

"I think we found a striker that is very mobile in Herculez, one that is a fighter, that keeps defenders busy, that is also nasty to do certain things," said head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. "That's important, that's good to see. That gives more movement up front there, because we're not scoring enough goals yet, so we've go to give that message to our strikers to go for it, and Herculez did a good job."

Gomez was handful for the Brazilian defenders from the opening whistle. He repeatedly drew fouls in dangerous positions, and part of that was because of how well he did with his back towards goal. But he was also dangerous attacking the goal, making constant runs against the likes of Thiago Silva and Juan.

Showing those abilities in training during the past week and his experience playing in big games are the reasons Klinsmann said he decided to start the World Cup veteran over youngster Terrence Boyd, who got the nod and fared well in the Americans' 5-1 victory over Scotland this past Saturday.

Klinsmann, however, is not the only one in the U.S. camp to notice those qualities.

"Herc's one of those really greedy goalscorers who plays for the team," said goalkeeper Tim Howard. "He's always looking for goal, he's always looking for that half a yard to get a shot. He came on against Scotland, it was 5-1. He doesn't care, he wants a goal.

"He played well tonight. For a little guy he's strong, he digs his heels in, heads the ball well, he buys us fouls. Herc was good. I like the way he runs the line, he comes inside the defender and then he runs beyond them and he poses problems. And his record in Mexico is fantastic so it just goes to show you."

Gomez's goal-scoring ways in Mexico in recent years have been well-documented. Following a journeyman career in MLS, Gomez was one of three players to share the spoils of the Golden Boot during the 2010 Clausura campaign when he scored 10 goals for Puebla (Mexican international Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez and Peruvian striker Johan Fano were the others) in his first year in Mexico's first division.

That helped earn him a roster spot on the 2010 World Cup team from the United States, and he followed that up with decent stints at Pachuca in 2010-2011 and Estudiantes Tecos in 2011. He then joined Santos Laguna this past December, and he played a role in helping them win the Clausura title this past season.

"I don't think I'm the same player that I was when I played (in) MLS, and I hope it doesn't look like that," said Gomez. "I hope you guys see a man that's kind of grown into his skin, that's kind of taking more of a responsibility and is kind of relishing an opportunity and the challenge."

Gomez pointed out following the loss to Brazil that his time with Santos Laguna was beneficial to his growth as a player. But it also hurt how he entered the U.S. training camp this summer, as Santos won the championship three days prior to Gomez heading to Orlando, Fla.

It is not as if Gomez was out of shape, but he was not up to par with the rest of the American players who had been doing up to three sessions a day with Klinsmann in the hot and humid weather in Central Florida.

"I was kind of behind the eight ball," said Gomez. "I came in and literally an hour after my flight I was doing fitness testing, so I knew if I had any chance of playing in any of these games – and playing against Brazil is something special, and this is a game I wanted to play – I'd have to give it my all and leave it all on these training sessions.

"Thankfully (Klinsmann) gave me an opportunity and whether it was enough to merit an opportunity, I don't know, I still haven't spoken to Jurgen. But I'm excited for the chance to keep working and the chance to keep trying to better myself as a player."

If the past is any indication, Gomez will take complete advantage of that chance.

99 comments
  • crocajun1003

    Sir, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    Like

  • elgringorico

    I like it… pretty in-depth and surprising at the same time, esp. your call of Scotland being Landy’s last great game!

    The only thing though: Chandler. Planning for his inclusion at this point seems silly. Better to just fugghedda about him and be pleasantly surprised if for some reason it works out.

    Like

  • bryan

    Good post. You have to remember, some US fans seem to have extremely short memories. Having said that, I think Williams would be interesting to try in that (Edu’s) role when healthy.

    Like

  • Phil

    Gomez was great last night he’s class on the field and off. We all talk about wanting the players to be committed to the USMNT (looking at you chandler). This guy when he didnt get a call up for the france game came down to Las Vegas and watched the match with the American Outlaws chapter there and became a member. Think about that how many other players can say even when I am not called up and am sitting on the sides I am here as a supporter with fellow supporters. Plus it helped that he bought the whole bar a round to say thanks for supporting him during the world cup. Class act and deserves eveything that comes to him!

    Like

  • PetedeLA

    I’d love to have Chandler back, but I wouldn’t forget about Lichaj.

    He held his own in the Premiere League.

    But if I’m being honest, I’d beg Chandler to come back on bended knee.

    Like

  • bryan

    to be fair, Jozy was on a terrible Hull team and he still managed to score 2 goals and notch 3 assists.

    for the USA, 13 goals and 3 assists in 46 caps. that puts him tied for 10th on top USA goal scorers list. he’s only two behind Cobi, 4 behind Beasley.

    in fact, if you look at Dempsey, he has 25 goals in 84 caps. if you do the math, that means Jozy has the same strike rate as Dempsey and is on par to at least match Dempsey as it stands right now. so no, your idea that he hasn’t done much is unfounded and an opinion not based in facts.

    Like

  • MLStoRaleigh

    I think this is the exact reason. Got to put your best midfielder in that role.

    Like

  • bryan

    pretty good analysis i think. but i disagree about torres. he was one of the only good looking players in the first half. he was the only one trying to be creative and was actually putting out some nice moves and passes. enough that my entire section noticed it and started talking about how he looked good. but then he dropped off and came out early for Dempsey.

    Like

  • bryan

    i was one of those people and i still think it to be true. but like i said above, he played that role much better than i thought he would. either way, they are both two different types of strikers. but JK didn’t really have a choice in the matter and clearly wanted a more experienced player against brazil.

    Like

  • PetedeLA

    OK. I’ll concede it was poorly written.

    I’m pressed for time.

    My main points were this:

    1. Three in the back is obsolete.That is in response to Joel J.
    2. 3 players shouldn’t have been in the starting eleven: Edu, Gooch, and Torres.
    3. Brazil was good, but our poor defending made them seem better than they were.
    4. Everyone was talking about how good Brazil was— from Taylor Twellman to Juergen Klinsmann. But the goals we conceded could have been conceded against any team. They were strong, but the first two goals were given away far too easily for a team of our caliber.

    I fully admit I rambled and the post was poorly written.

    But this is a bit much: “Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

    In future, let’s leave God out of this please. And if you want to get personal, please just go on the other sites where petty squabbles are more commonplace.

    Like

  • bryan

    good analysis. i basically agree with everything you just said. i’m hoping lichaj will continue to start next season for AV. i’d like to have him and chandler as our RBs.

    Like

  • Tyler

    I was on the same side, just behind the goal. I liked his work-rate but I need slightly better touch from him (and the team in general). We had more than one foray into the final 3rd that was derailed by a poor touch one the ball

    Like

  • bryan

    i need Studio 90 to do something on Johnson. this guy seems so quiet. i feel like i know nothing about him (personality wise). he seems like a reserved and humble guy. always seems to get out of the camera shots, etc. but then he tears it up on the field.

    also, boyd on the latest behind the crest video was cracking me up. when he called corona “dawg” i almost died laughing. and then his picture with the soldiers. too funny watching him position himself so he got a front facing picture since the solider couldn’t turn around.

    i love this team.

    Like

  • skyman

    I 100% agree with your statement, outside of Boyd. He’s still far behind Jozy, although a very competent hopeful.

    I love our team. .. ahhhh. . . just looking forward to a complete back line. Who will it be?

    Like

  • Stephen

    I was not a fan of Gomez being brought in. I thought he was over his head the last few times I saw him in international play. That said, I was very impressed with his game. He was also in the face of Marcelo and others when things got chippy, which I hope rubs off on other players. Overall, I was very impressed with his game.

    Like

  • Tyler

    Pete, thats from the movie “Billy Madison”. And I disagree with your Torres analysis. He made some mistakes yes, but he wasn’t as bad as you make him out to be.

    Like

  • skyman

    Makes sense, AND, am I the only one who notices that Edu is a physical force, albeit with a lack of skill at the international level? He does very well (much better than Clark IMO) as a defensive mid, just doesn’t have the skills to distribute so well.

    Like

  • Tyler

    Mad Men reference! I love it! Hell there aren’t many things I wouldn’t do if I could sleep with Joan.

    Like

  • skyman

    That is a fair assessment. I’m warming up to the idea of having Herc play with a hold up forward (Boyd very well may do better than Jozy at this), so that Herc can take advantage of his strengths.

    Like

  • Mwing09

    “I think we found a striker that is very mobile in Herculez”. As I read that line I said to myself “because Jozy sure as hell isnt” haha.

    Like

  • 2tone

    I’m all for having Cameron garner more minutes.

    I respect Gooch and what he has done in the past, but I will say that Cameron is the future at CB. We all know Boca will continue to play eventhough he may have been more worse than Gooch last night.

    Quite frankly it’s time to satrt looking at more RB options as well. If Chandler deceides he wants to play then great, but Lichaj and some MLS guys like Chance Myers and Steven Beitashour need to get some looks. Dolo is just not the same player he was two years ago.

    Like

  • fortunate only

    No he didn’t.

    Javier Hernandez and Herculez split the golden boot since they scored the same amount of goals.

    Hernandez is considered the actual winner because he did it while playing less minutes than Gomez due to injury.

    Just because Ives keeps repeating it doesn’t actually make it accurate.

    Like

  • bryan

    dude, he turns 27 next month, 29 by the WC. i would not call him the “future”. he is another option to provide us depth while we wait for the future to come up. i think someone like Williams could be the future at CB for us.

    as for dolo, i agree. it’s time to start finding him official replacement in some our upcoming friendlies. gatt, lichaj, and chandler come to mind.

    Like

  • bryan

    i agree. i need to see some better touches when we play big teams. sometimes they get too nervous and the ball just keeps rolling.

    Like

  • dan

    Good or bad, Herculez is the American “Chicharito” many wanted; opportunistic, great runs and hard worker.

    Like

  • PetedeLA

    More than a few times I saw Torres get tossed around like a rag doll. My internet connection was shoddy at best, so maybe I missed out on some of his better moments. But when I see a midfielder get pushed off the ball, beaten to the ball on a 50/50, missing crucial tackles, etc, it gives me pause.

    Having said that, I love the player. I just don’t think he was up to this match. But that’s just my opinion.

    Like

  • Joel J

    I can’t find the stat, but I’m pretty sure Gomez played the least amount of minutes. Gomez was a super sub that year and he missed the last game. Can anyone find a stat on this. If you’re saying the “true” winner of the golden boot, it’s actually Herculez.

    Like

  • Commando Lando

    I was formerly a Herc “hopeful” type, who didn’t believe he could deliver for the Nats on a consistent basis. I now think he’s consistently dangerous and his rise will only elevate the game of Altidore, who will either be paired with him or compete with him for a spot up top. Herc plays a refreshingly simple game, a lot like Dempsey, actually. He just has a nose for the goal.

    Like

  • Commando Lando

    Boca getting muscled off that ball was just one of many examples of the difference in athleticism for the two teams. I wouldn’t read too much into it. As Donovan said the last time these two teams faced “we’re the best soccer players in the U.S., but they are the best athletes in Brazil”. The sheer size of the Brazilians was amazing and those same body types would be channeled into basketball or football if they grew up here in the U.S.. Donovan bounced off of Marcelo like a gnat hitting a truck windshield. And Neymar is just way fast.

    Like

  • Scott

    Gooch has been good when? I keep hearing how good he is when fit. Getting fit won’t give him touch, because he never had it before. Getting fit won’t make him quick of foot. Never was before. Gooch isn’t what we need anymore. We need better touch and ball control. Also, keep in mind, when was the last time he played. We seem to have put together a 5 game winning streak and a squeaker against France. I don’t remember him starting any of those games. Goodson and Cameron are already better options with Ream having done quite well as a holding mid and CB in the PL. A much tougher league than where Gooch plies his trade. Fit doesn’t fix the problems Gooch has and age isn’t helpin either.

    Like

  • bryan

    i totally forgot to share this story. the best part of my night yesterday at the game! my buddy and i leave the stadium and start heading towards the metro. anyone who has been to FedEx knows the metro is like a 15 minute walk. anyway, about half way there, we realize the development that was on our left walking in was not there. we soon realized we went the wrong way. so we start heading back to the stadium prepared for a 30 minute walk to the metro.

    as we are going pass the stadium, we see two buses with their interior lights on and cops on bikes in front of them. there was also some barriers and about 50ish people. we both looked at each other and realized those were the team buses and they were about to get on them. holy #%^@!!!

    sure enough, Boyd, Jones, Pato, and Luiz come out first. Pato and Luiz, I could see, but they were near their bus talking to fans and I wanted to be next to the USA bus. Boyd and Jones came right up to where I was (and many others, but i was right in front) and shook hands, signed autographs, took pictures, etc. so awesome. they both looked pretty mad about the loss, but were still really nice to the fans.

    after that, Bradley, LD, Gooch, Boca, Dempsey, Parkhurst, Johnson, Beckerman, Edu, and Klinsmann came up to the fans and did the same thing. we actually had a conversation with Dempsey (guy joked that he wanted to buy Clint’s shoes and Clint was like, “hell nah, i love these!”), Bradley and Klinsmann. it was awesome. you could tell they were all bummed about the game, but were still talkative and so nice. i love this team.

    the only player from the US who came out and didn’t talk to fans was Howard. he acknowledge everyone and waved, but he clearly wasn’t in a talking mood. which was too bad, but i get it. it was weird though because i never saw any of the players who didn’t make the bench get on the bus and i did not see Torres, Castillo, Corona, Dolo, Gomez, Rimando, and Goodson. maybe they snuck on.

    all i know is that im 27 and i probably looked like a middle school girl at a justin bieber concert. hahaha

    the brazil players were lame and only Pato and Luiz really talked to the fans. when their bus left Pato was waving through the window which was cool. klinsmann did the same thing and dempsey was texting.

    Like

  • Scott

    When was the last time Gooch had a good USMNT outing? When was the last time he looked good for Jurgen? I am not saying that Gooch is done because of this outing. I am saying that Gooch has never recovered what he was before the injury. I don’t care how he looks for Porto. Goodson is better than Gooch and Goodson is a better fit than Gooch. Ream should be taking Gooch’s roster spot right now. Then he could be getting touches and experience. Instead we get to watch Gooch grow old before our eyes. EPL>Porto.

    Like

  • Scott

    Struggled until the most recent season. That Golden boot (2010) must have been for the top struggler of the year.

    Like

  • ben in el cajon

    Don’t forget Omar Gonzalez. In general we should have a giant/speedster combination at CB; one to cover the air and the other to cover for him when he cannot move quite fast enough. Gonzalez/Williams, or Gonzalez/ Ream even. Maybe Goodson instead of Gonzalez . . .

    Like

  • Mark

    against what teams though? Most of those are concacaf teams and not even Mexico.

    Dude, I could score on Guadalupe.

    Like

  • GW

    That makes you bettter than Clint Dempsey.
    He could not score against them in that very same Gold Cup game even though he had a career’s worth of chances.

    Like

  • joejoe

    I don’t know why some people are surprised with Gomez performance. Same player that has been scoring a bunch of goals in Mexico. Same player that left Sigi (Seattle) wondering if that was the same guy he told many years back that he would never be great. I only regret that he’s thirty and may not make it to the show.

    Like

  • RNG

    Which is pretty hilarious when you think about it. How many people are smarter for having watched an Adam Sandler movie?

    Like

  • bryan

    not exactly a two sentence story. feel free to not read next time though. i could care less. but some people might find it a good story.

    Like

  • crocajun1003

    Let me get this straight…

    When he doesn’t score he’s wasting opportunities.

    When he scores against Spain it’s luck.

    When he scores against Guadalupe it doesn’t count.

    I guess you’re right. He really hasn’t done anything.

    And don’t bring up that assist against Italy b/c it was probably Italian match fixing, right?

    Like

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