Herculez Gomez

U.S. striker Herculez Gomez: hullabaloo and criticism no biggie


DENVER – Who doesn’t love U.S. striker Herculez Gomez?

The Las Vegas native’s soccer career is a tale dogged persistence. Things were just OK during his time in Major League Soccer, but Gomez just kept moving forward, kept trying harder, kept looking for more. (Which he has found in hammering out a fruitful career in Mexico’s Liga MX.)

The U.S. coaching staff loves Gomez because his energy, desire and work rate bother defenses, creating opportunities that might not otherwise arrive. (They’ll need every little smidgen of fire and desire, hustle and bustle and everything in between in Friday’s World Cup qualifier outside Denver.)

He’s active with fans and members of the press through social media.

And now the man is helping tamp down the brush fires that threaten to ignite Camp Klinsmann with a healthy dose of perspective.

About all the holler and hullabaloo over Carlos Bocanegra, quirky roster choices, unresolved tactical tenets, etc., Gomez sees it as rather quaint. He called the U.S. press corps “teddy bears” compared to the flesh-eating grizzlies of most soccer-mad lands, including Mexico.

Among the great stuff he shared with MLSSoccer.com:

It’s funny, they’re making a bit of a hoopla about it right now. It’s almost, in a sense, cute, you know?

… we live in such a great country where you guys [the media] even have dialogue with us and things can be easily worked through. I think this, for us, is a learning experience. We will be a better team for it.”

I love it – I love it. It’s about time. It’s about damn time you guys took some interest and you guys started asking some tough questions. I think that shows us growing as a footballing nation, I really do.”

Gomez mentioned Brian Straus by name. Straus is the Sporting News writer whose provocative piece on Tuesday exposed or aggressively amplified a conversation that had been contained to media back room whispers to that point. Gomez said this stuff, provocative and dramatic as it might be, is a necessary and even helpful part of the game’s growth curve here.

Whether the writer’s theories and his sources are right or wrong, these conversations are critical, Gomez believes, even if just for the additional public chatter. Having the discussion is what matters.

… this country needs that exposure. This country needs football to matter. And I think that’s great.”

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.