Breaking the Code on Omar Gonzalez and His Importance to USMNT Camp

Paul MillerContributor IIIJanuary 20, 2013

Nov 18, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez (4) protects the ball from Seattle Sounders FC forward Fredy Montero (17) during the 1st half at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Los Angeles 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

This week, Jurgen Klinsmann talked about the ongoing USMNT camp during a couple interviews, and at both he brought up Omar Gonzalez without being directly asked about the young defender.

On Jan. 16, he talked with Sports Illustrated. The first question was: "Your U.S. January camp has been going on for 10 days now. What are some of the things you've learned about players in this camp?"

Klinsmann's full response was:

What we're really pleased about is the way the players have handled themselves already in camp. I mentioned that to the players in December: This is not a preseason camp, this is a World Cup qualifying preparation camp. So if you want to have a chance of getting into that roster for Honduras, you need to present yourself in good shape. And they've done their homework. They came in very focused and ready to compete. That's exciting to see, players that we haven't seen directly in our camps like Omar Gonzalez and a couple other players. A lot is happening right now because of the improvement of MLS over the last couple years. It's been a very good first 10 days so far.

The following day, U.S. Soccer printed a similar interview. There, Klinsmann was asked about several players. This coach never comes across as shy, and he discussed every player about whom the interviewer inquired.

For example, Klinsmann was asked about Graham Zusi and Geoff Cameron in a first question about how players had used previous USMNT camps as a stepping stone to regular participation with the national team.

Note the other name Klinsmann brought up in his response here:

Yes, absolutely, if it’s Graham Zusi, if it’s Geoff Cameron or others. In the past when Bob Bradley and Bruce Arena were coaching this program, many have evolved through the January camp and we hope the same thing. We want to see them taking that opportunity, stepping it up and proving to us that they’re ready for the next level. Some were with us already last year and some are brand new. We are thrilled Omar Gonzalez is now with us. We had him on our list a long time ago, and then his injury came and then his club involvement got really busy. Seeing him now in this group is really exciting for me.

Two interviews in two days, and the coach mentions the same player in an unsolicited fashion in his first answer.

The fact that many see the center-defender positions as the USMNT's biggest vulnerability probably has something to do with this excitement.

It is a pretty good guess that Klinsmann shares that opinion.

The Los Angeles Galaxy defender is coming off a strong MLS Cup playoffs and finals, and was named Cup MVP. Gonzalez also was named the league's "defining player" of 2012 in one B/R article.

Given those achievements and what sounds like a strong performance in ongoing training sessions, it also may be a good guess that Gonzalez has played himself into being this camp's top priority.