Jurgen Klinsmann: Omar Gonzalez making case for national team return
Omar Gonzalez appears to be back in U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann's good graces after a rough 2015 for club and country for the Pachuca defender.
Klinsmann dropped Gonzalez from the national team late last year after the 27-year-old World Cup veteran center-back struggled in MLS play with the LA Galaxy.
Gonzalez was left off the final two squad lists for the year, missing two 2018 World Cup qualifiers in November and the high-profile CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico a month earlier.
But the 6-foot-5 Gonzalez has been sharp since he transferred to Pachuca of Liga MX in December, a move that seems to have revitalized the Texan's career.
He's started each of the six league games he's been available for since joining the Tuzos, scoring once and adding an assist. Pachuca sits just one point behind Monterrey atop the Clausura standings. Gonzalez's success south of the border has not gone unnoticed by Klinsmann.
"When he went down to Pachuca, everybody was a bit surprised about his decision," Klinsmann, in response to a question submitted by ESPN, said in an interview with U.S. Soccer's website. "And from Day 1 on he was very determined and focused to make a statement.
"Not only did he become a starter right away," Klinsmann added. "He made a big difference in most of the games, defensively obviously with his very strong presence that he has, and also his capabilities to play out of the back or here-and-there even go with the ball into midfield."
The U.S. is still more than a month away from naming its squad for two late March qualifiers against Guatemala. However with starting right center-back Geoff Cameron still nursing an ankle injury he suffered in January playing with Stoke City, and few other proven options in the player pool, Gonzalez, who has won 30 caps for his country, seems well-positioned for a recall -- if not a spot in the American lineup.
"It's a real pleasure to see Omar being happy, having a smile on his face and being very strong at the moment," Klinsmann said. "That definitely makes his case much stronger for the national team as well."