Dec 28, 2013, 7:14 PM EDT
How convenient for U.S. international striker Herculez Gomez that his bid to regain status with the United States national team begins just down the road from Jurgen Klinsmann’s place in Southern California.
Gomez, who was in South Africa with the 2010 U.S. World Cup team, is fit and ready once again for Club Tijuana. The team is just into its preseason ahead of the 2014 Clausura, and the initial preseason contest is tonight at the StubHub Center against Club America.
That also happens to be the national team’s training ground, where Klinsmann will gather his team in less than two weeks for the annual January camp. More on Gomez’s bid and the Xolos is here from Scott French, including some revealing quotes on where things went sideways in fall rehab for the veteran striker.
Here’s the issue for Gomez, who looked like a strong candidate to make the World Cup team as recently as last April. Back then he had a starting spot for the two matches that righted the U.S. World Cup qualification efforts, the snowy-white win over Costa Rica and the telling draw in Mexico City. Now some of the numbers are working against him.
If we just look at the men who will play at striker, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore are shoe-ins (assuming good health). Eddie Johnson scored big goals for the team last year, taking full advantage of his opportunities, some of which were down to Gomez’s injury absence. He’s in a good spot.
And now Aron Johannsson has shown how good he can be. His performances for AZ keep impressing – although this potential move to Celtic could prove fateful. This young man has a big upside.
Four outright strikers is about all the 23-man roster can handle. Gomez did play wide in the system when last seen as a starter, but that was before Landon Donovan returned to good graces. Donovan, although roughly the same age, is faster and more versatile than Gomez. Plus … well, he’s Landon Donovan, a.k.a. the best player this country has ever produced.
Either way, all Gomez can do is the very best he can do. Klinsmann likes him, and with good reason: he’s a likeable guy, and that counts for something in the final estimation. Klinsmann talks a bunch about “givers and takers,” so Gomez is in good shape if he can create an “all things being equal” situation with talent and production.
By the way, Klinsmann will be at the StubHub Center tonight. Gomez’s chance to gain some ground begins right there.
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