• Wednesday Jan 22, 2014

    Gomez must “prove himself” to get on U.S. WC radar

    Club Tijuana's Herculez Gomez (pictured), who played in the 2010 World Cup with the United States, is hoping to return to the global stage this year in Brazil. (Photo: Mexsport)

    LOS ANGELES -- Even after four years, time seems to have stood still for Herculez Gomez.

    The Club Tijuana forward, who has recovered from knee injuries, once again must fight for a place on the United States roster for the 2014 World Cup team after recovering from knee injuries.

    "It's funny," Gomez said.  "I look at the way things are panning out six months before the World Cup, and it's kind of panning out the same way with six months going into the last World Cup."

    After scoring 11 goals for the LA Galaxy in 2005, Gomez collected just 12 goals in Major League Soccer during the next four years -- and tore knee ligaments twice within 18 months -- before joining Puebla in 2010.

    "My stock wasn't too high," he commented.  "I had to prove myself all over again."

    Gomez responded with 10 goals to share the 2010 Bicentenario scoring title with Guadalajara’s Javier Hernandez and Johan Fano of Atlante, becoming the first American to top a foreign league in scoring.

    That success not only put Gomez on the United States' 2010 World Cup squad, but also helped build a career in Mexico.  With Santos Laguna, he won the 2012 Clausura championship and twice reached the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) final.

    But Gomez suffered a bone contusion in his right knee while playing for Santos in May during the Clausura 2013 playoffs.  He joined Club Tijuana in early June and played through the group stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup that same month, before having surgery in August.

    Gomez returned to action September 26 with three second-half goals in Club Tijuana's CCL victory over Honduras' Victoria.  Yet that success delayed his recovery.

    "I was running on that buzz, that high of being part of the team," expressed Gomez.  "But I wasn't ready."

    The re-aggravated injury would cause Gomez to miss 14 of the United States' games, including seven qualifiers.

    "Now, I feel great," said the 31-year-old.  "I can run like I used to. I can do things like I used to.”

    Gomez needs to play well for the Xolos to impress United States' coach Jurgen Klinsmann.  He has started each of the opening three games in the new 2014 Liga MX Clausura season, but has not yet scored for a team is 1-1-1.

    "I don't know why but I do well when the chips are down," Gomez finished.  "Right now, that's how it is.  I've got to claw my way back onto the radar." 

    Gomez and Club Tijuana will face the LA Galaxy in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League on March 12 in Carson, California, and March 18 in Mexico.

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