72313_isi_gonzalezomar_mlsdb05262013169 David Bernal/isiphotos.com
Exclusive Q&A

Good As Gold: Omar Gonzalez Is a Go for the U.S.

The six-foot-five central defender has joined up with the Gold Cup squad—just as the tournament is starting to get interesting. We asked him about the tournament, his teammates, and what the future holds.
BY Chris Gigley Posted
July 23, 2013
3:36 PM
OMAR GONZALEZ IS READY for his close up at the international level. Even as his MLS squad, the Los Angeles Galaxy, have struggled this summer, the big defender has clearly emerged as a leader and face of the team—and of the league. And with a call-up for the Gold Cup knock-out stages, he is clearly a player U.S. men's soccer team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann holds in high regard.

Gonzalez took a moment to talk with American Soccer Now after his last practice with the Galaxy before joining the national team in July. He discussed his chemistry with fellow U.S. call-up Matt Besler, what has impressed him about the national team's play this summer, and how the transfer window in January is something he'd rather...not discuss right now.

AMERICAN SOCCER NOW: I saw in the Los Angeles Times you said you were surprised by your latest call-up to the U.S. men's national team. Why?
OMAR GONZALEZ: Because before I got the call I was thinking he was going to call someone else. I was planning on just watching from home. I'm definitely glad I got the call, though. I'm excited about going up.

ASN: What do you think of your U.S. national team performances so far? How would you grade yourself?
OG: I don't know. I don't want to say anything like that. Next question.

ASN: What would you like to do better at the international level?
OG: Connect passes to the forwards and get the ball to their feet. I want to make those killer passes. I want to translate that from club to country. From the games that I have played, I think everything was going pretty well. I think I have to just keep it going. Just keep improving every game, learn from my mistakes and not let them happen ever again. I want to try to be a more vocal leader and I also want to get some goals. I think I can be more of a threat on set pieces.

ASN: Do you and Klinsmann talk about ways to take your game to the next level?
OG: Whenever I go into camp, he's always giving guys things to work on and think about. I'm sure I'll sit down with him when I see him on Monday to talk about that. I think it will be mostly the things I mentioned I want to improve on.

ASN: What does it mean to develop chemistry with fellow call-up Matt Besler?
OG: It means a lot. It started back in January when we were at camp together. Right off the bat, I thought we made a pretty good pairing. He's a smart player who's great on the ball. He's great on the left side, and I think I'm pretty good on the right. I think we complement each other very well.

ASN: How so?
OG: Well, we're both aggressive and can win balls in the air. I think we both have the same thoughts on how to play the position and how aggressive we want to be or how much we want to let the game come to us. I just think we've been on the same page from the start.

ASN: What kind of guy is Besler away from the field?
OG: He's pretty quiet, but he has a really good sense of humor. It's a dry sense of humor. He always comes out with the great one liners. I think he's a great guy and I'm looking forward to playing with him again.

ASN: What are your impressions of the team's Gold Cup play?
OG: Even though they haven't been playing against really great teams, they've been really professional in their approach and have continued to play the way they want to play. They're making sure they're improving on things and making sure the other team doesn't get that many chances. I think they've been great at creating chances and moving the ball, as well. They've been a lot of fun to watch.

ASN: Do you think playing down to the level of competition has been a problem before?
OG: I have no idea. I'm just talking about what I've seen, and they're not doing that now.

ASN: Do you think about the January transfer window and playing in Europe?
OG: It's there but I try not to think about it. When I hear about opportunities, I try not to get too excited. I try to live in the moment and make sure I'm taking care of business here. If I get caught up in that, I think my play will suffer. I don't want that to happen.

ASN: Still, do you ever daydream about playing for a certain team? Maybe your go-to team in FIFA 13?
OG: Not really, no.

Do you expect to see Gonzalez in the starting lineup against Honduras Wednesday night? Do you think he will be in the Starting XI in Brazil? Share your thoughts below.

And for more on Omar Gonzalez, be sure to check out his ASN 100 profile.

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