For Herculez Gomez, first Mexico, then…

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We jump from a youthful forward to one of the elder statesman in the United States national team’s striker pool. Herculez Gomez lines up Thursday night (10 p.m. Eastern) as Santos Laguna attempts win the 2012 Clausura. The Mexican power plays Monterrey in a two-leg final, with the second match coming on Sunday.

Despite making four of the past five Mexican league finals, Santos has won nada since 2008. They also lost the CONCACAF Champions League final to Monterrey last month. But this year might be different. They advanced to the final in ridiculous fashion — think Man City but better — and seem primed to defeat their rivals.

Gomez may earn his first Clausura playoff start as he continues to recover from a groin injury. It would be a welcome return for the forward who was red-hot before he went down. Santos needs his nose for the goal…

… even if Jurgen Klinsmann doesn’t. Gomez hasn’t gotten a call since August 2010 and seems resigned to his fate as an ex-USMNT player, even if the rest of us are struggling to comprehend and continue to wonder if he’s going to appear in the Stars and Stripes. Put it this way: If the American coach doesn’t call him in the next round of players, we can end all the discussion for good.

It’s a tough reality, but Gomez is handling it with class. Nice note: Brian Straus reported that Sacha Klejstan, another player being overlooked by Klinsmann, reached out to Gomez for advice on dealing with perceived or real snubs. There would be some nice symmetry if Gomez also contributed mightily to a league championship. Football can be such a cruel mistress.

If you want to watch, Telefutura is your option for both games.

But for now: Goalmachine Gomez, courtesy of Jimmy Conrad and the KickTV crew.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8bemNFoYSo%5D