Eschewing its tendency to sign big-name players from abroad for the role, the Los Angeles Galaxy announced Omar González as its third Designated Player on Thursday. The United States international has spent his entire professional career with the Galaxy since his third-overall selection in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft.
“I’m really excited to take on this task in helping the Galaxy go for their consecutive third MLS Cup,” González said in a press conference at StubHub Center. “After looking at all my options, I think I made the right decision signing here. … I’ve loved my time here, and I’m looking forward to continuing that.”
A native of Dallas who played four years of college soccer at University of Maryland, González has won a slough of individual awards in his four full seasons in Major League Soccer. He was Rookie of the Year in 2009, Defender of the Year in 2011 and MLS Best XI in 2010 and 2011.
“We have a player that grew up in our system, he proved it on the field in Major League Soccer and he’s being rewarded accordingly,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “This is what our young kids are going to aspire to be one day.”
In January 2012, his prospects of moving abroad improved when he was loaned to FC Nürnberg of the Bundesliga. But in his first training session, he tore his left ACL after a collision in training, cutting the loan short.
But after missing the first half of 2012 in recovery, González won MLS Cup MVP, when he scored once and made several important defensive interventions in the Galaxy’s 3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo.
After earning a starting spot with the U.S. national team, rumors of interest from foreign clubs started to circulate again. The general feeling was that it would take a big raise — a Designated Player contract — to keep González in MLS.
“He’s been one of the most important players on our team, on a team that’s seen unprecedented success,” Galaxy president Chris Klein said. “We knew from the start that Omar was a guy that we wanted to keep here.”
González, 24, becomes the only center back in the league on a Designated Player deal. His previous contract guaranteed him $282,000 a year, according to numbers released Aug. 1 by the MLS Players Union.