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- DOB April 6, 1982
- Age 32
- Place of birth Oxnard, California
- POSITION Forward
- HEIGHT 5'10"
- WEIGHT 165
- U.S. CAPS 24
- CLUB Tijuana
- TWITTER @herculezg (214K followers)
- Current ASN 100 Rank 46
- Previous ASN 100 Rank 40
At some point Herculez Gomez will stop scoring in bunches. But the California-born forward, who is as hard-working and opportunistic on the field as he is friendly and outgoing off it, has been on a rare run of form for nearly two years. Gomez's game is never beautiful, but scoring doesn't have to be; he just gets the job done.
Gomez bounced around MLS from 2002 to 2009, finding sporadic success (he scored 18 goals for the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2005), but ultimately leaving the league a year after tearing his ACL. His fortunes turned for the better in 2010 when he signed with Puebla in Mexico. With his health restored, Gomez exploded for 10 goals, good enough to lead the league in 2010. (Gomez is the answer to the trivia question: "Who was the first American to lead a foreign league in goals?")
The stellar run also led to a spot on the 2010 World Cup roster, his first appearance for the Stars and Stripes since making the 2007 Copa America team. Gomez figured in three matches during the tournament in South Africa, although he did not find the back of the net. Still, it appeared as though Gomez would continue to see time at the top of the American formation, especially as he continued scoring in Mexico in 2011, first with Estudiantes Tecos and then with Santos Laguna.
But while Bob Bradley saw something in Gomez, Jurgen Klinsmann did not—at least not at first. The German gave his younger forwards opportunities for playing time before finally calling the 30-year-old into the U.S. squad in the summer of 2012. Klinsmann’s faith was rewarded as Gomez netted against Brazil. Klinsmann and the American team praised the forward's hard work and soccer smarts. "Herc’s easy to play with because he’s very predictable," Landon Donovan told the Washington Times after Gomez tallied against the Samba Boys. "He’s active, he makes good runs, and when he’s in front of the goal he wants to score."
Gomez will continue to get calls and fight for a spot in the American lineup. He has the "nastiness" Klinsmann wants and isn't afraid to throw his body around. The only question is how long that body, which has experienced plenty of injuries, can hold up.—NOAH DAVIS
Klinsmann on Gomez:
"[Gomez] really impressed us a lot the way he reads the game, and the way he works defenders. He gets them tired, and he's not afraid of anybody." (June 2012)
"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. 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 got to give that message to our strikers to go for it. And Herculez did a good job." (June 2012)
Noteworthy ReadsStriker Herculez Gomez Making the Most of His Second Chance with U.S. Team (Sporting News)
Klinsmann: Forward Is an Open Competition (MLSSoccer.com)