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Omar Gonzalez: the Galaxy contract / transfer situation we are not talking about enough

Dec 31, 2012, 10:25 AM EDT

2012 MLS Cup Champions Los Angeles Galaxy Portraits Getty Images

David Beckham has written the last pages in the chapter of his brilliant career marked “L.A. Galaxy.”

Landon Donovan is still giving the whole professional soccer thing a good “think,” and only he knows what’s ahead for him as a contributing Galaxy man.

Robbie Keane may still test the loan waters in England, so we have that to talk about over warming totties or New Year’s brews. Even goalkeeper Josh Saunders, apparently on the outs for the two-time MLS champs, looks topical as we hash out the shifting Galaxy roster.

But I have not seen nearly enough talk about Omar Gonzalez, who is probably more central to the Galaxy success (past and ongoing, that is) than any of the names mentioned above.

Yes, Beckham and Donovan and Keane, the former Galaxy DPs three, were essential in the 2012 championship effort. But it would not have happened but for Gonzalez’s stabilizing effect on the back line. Dollar for dollar, there may not be a more valuable man in MLS.

So beginning tomorrow, we all really should be more vigilant on the Omar Gonzalez transfer watch. The 2011 MLS Defender of the Year – and soon to be national team regular, judging by some of Jurgen Klinsmann’s recent comments … and also judging by common freakin’ sense – has one year remaining on his MLS deal. It will expire at the end of the 2013 season.

That means the Galaxy must seriously consider any offers that land for the imposing center back, now 24.

Here is what Galaxy coach Bruce Arena told the L.A. Galaxy Insider about a month ago

It’s based on if there is an offer there, we have to consider it. The only timeline is that the end of January is the end of the transfer window. Omar Gonzalez is on our team. We’re not worried about anything until that changes and, right now, he’s a member of our team.”

If the Galaxy waits past January they could lose Gonzalez without compensation as early as this summer. (In that scenario, Gonzalez would remain with the Galaxy through the 2013 MLS season, signing a pre-contract elsewhere and then joining in one year’s time.)

They could sell Gonzalez during the summer window, although his value would likely be reduced (since a club could gain his services without a transfer fee simply by waiting another few months.)

The other option, of course, is that the Galaxy acts now to tie up Gonzalez for another few years. But that could mean signing the big defender to a lucrative deal that makes him a Designated Player, which makes the whole exercise far more complicated because it ties into so many other elements.

So, yes … this one deserves a little more January attention than we’ve been devoting so far.

  1. dfstell - Dec 31, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    I’d love to see the Galaxy keep him, even if it means signing him to DP money. He’s worth it, especially when you consider the Galaxy won’t get THAT much in a transfer fee for him. What…..$2-3MM? I guess I’d love to see him challenge himself, but being a Galaxy fan kinda overrides that sentiment. :)

  2. pensfan603 - Dec 31, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    The Galaxys shoudl ship him overseas the would get huger compensation which could be used to sign young talent such as zaldes that is coming out of california, but at the same time it would be cool to see omar become the next landon donovan inside the mls.

  3. charliej11 - Dec 31, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    LA would be fools to not sign him up.

    • Steve Davis - Dec 31, 2012 at 12:48 PM

      OK … so sign him up now as opposed to Kaka or Frank Lampard or whoever … right? If that’s your position, it’s a very valid one. I’m just saying that it may not be so cut-and-dried if he requires DP money. Because signing him to a DP deal might mean extinguishing any chances of grabbing a big name that MIGHT want to come to L.A.

      • tylerbetts - Dec 31, 2012 at 1:58 PM

        This point exactly is where I’d like to see some changes to roster/salary rules.

        I mean if the choice is sell Gonzalez to Europe and sign Kaka, that’s something of a no-brainer. You sell Omar, and you sign Kaka. But … what if some minor tweaks went in place to help this kind of situation, and give some incentive to keep some of our stars from bolting to Europe too soon?

        What I’m thinking is giving a .5 credit of a DP slot if you have a USMNT (Or Canadian, I suppose) Designated Player. So, in theory, the Galaxy could use 1 DP slot on Kaka, 1 DP slot on Keane, .5 on Donovan and .5 Omar. Not so far off what other leagues do (Liga MX requiring playing time for young Mexican internationals, Russia requiring majority of starters to be Russian, etc.), and not something that would be used all that much. How many US Internationals 1) Can Command DP salary 2) aren’t better off in Europe and 3) can be joined with another player in the same position on a team? Probably not many … at this time. But, if MLS gets better about developing young players, it could be a major boon to MLS teams that are good at youth development.

      • joeyt360 - Dec 31, 2012 at 2:13 PM

        All depends on what a championship is really worth in this league, I guess. Seemed like when they signed Keane, most of the money wasn’t really about marketing (he has a good bit less value there than a Beckham, and probably less than a Donovan as well), it seemed the purpose was to make a slight title favorite into a prohibitive title favorite. And it worked. The Galaxy became prohibitive favorites in that year’s title chase, and won that championship and the next one.

        Watching Gonzalez, he’s having the same kind of impact on the defensive end as Keane is on the offensive side. His abilities are very rare indeed in this league, and it’s hard to be confident they could be replaced, even with a large allocation and a lot of cash. If you ‘traded’ Gonzalez for Frank Lampard, I think there would be reason to worry about whether that trade actually improves you. And if one presumes it doesn’t, does any star power Lampard possesses over here fully compensate for any hit to the Galaxy’s title odds?

      • dfstell - Dec 31, 2012 at 2:15 PM

        Yeah….this is where MLS’s salary cap frustrates me sometimes. If LAG were a European club, they’d just sign him and sign Kaka. It seems like they have the money to afford both, but might not be able to under the salary cap structure of MLS.

      • charliej11 - Dec 31, 2012 at 6:35 PM

        It is my viewpoint, even if it means DP they don’t win MLS Cup this year without him…they already won it without Kaka….twice.

        Ps. Kaka might be a toss up for me…Lampard, you gotta be kidding.

  4. danielofthedale - Dec 31, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    As a MLS fan I would love to him stay. Keeping Matt Besler, Mix Diskerud showing some serious interest in coming to the league and also keeping Omar would be a great sign for the growth of the league. On the other hand, as a US National team fan I would love to see him move to Europe in the right situation. Getting playing in a better league can only help him and really strengthen a weakness the US has in the back four right now.

  5. valiantdraws - Dec 31, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    As and MLS fan, I really root for him staying here. As a USMNT fan, I want him to go elsewhere. What I really do NOT want is for him to get signed on a somewhat bigger team and ride the bench. As a player, I would rather play in a low tier consistently, than be stuck not playing for a top tier side. Well…I mean, to an extent. But a Gooch situation would be awful.

  6. bear06 - Dec 31, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    Omar has said that he wants to play in Europe, so I don’t know why people think he will sign a new contract even if it’s a DP contract. I can see him move to an Euro club in a top 4 league in the next week or so if the right team comes calling, if he doesn’t transfer to a new club in the next week or so he will be likely gone in the summer.

  7. bottlcaps - Jan 4, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    Remember. the Galaxy do not have to sign him to a DP contract to pay him more than $325,000 (the amount counted under the Salary cap for DP’s). The could offload some players in the first 21 and get some more allocation money. I do not think Bruce Arena, who is a master of the Salary Cap, will let him get away for nothing. KaKa’s contract is up in 2013 (although later, I believe). Can we see a swap for KaKa with the Gonzales transfer a “write down” for KaKa? Real Madrid is reportedly one of the Euro teams interested, as well as some EPL heavyweights and half the teams in Mexico. The guy has a huge upside, He id just quick enough, technically savvy can read the game, has great reflexes and as one BB coach said “You can’r teach height, and at 6’5″, Gonzales brings a presence to the game.

    • bear06 - Jan 11, 2013 at 4:16 AM

      Where did you hear that Real Madrid are one of the Euro teams interested in Omar?

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