Along with Omar Gonzalez’s new DP contract – the rare Designated Player deal for a defender in MLS – come added responsibility and expectations.
The big U.S. international didn’t exactly deliver on the expectation end Saturday at RFK Stadium, where his careless mistake allowed Chris Pontius to waltz in on goal for an equalizer in a match that eventually ended in a 2-2 draw. Pontius stripped Gonzalez of possession in the middle of the field; as the last man back, it’s on the big center back to extra careful in protecting the ball there.
But Gonzalez is stepping up the responsibility end. Here is what he said about it.
I thought we were playing a lot of long ball at the time, and I wanted to start getting the ball on the ground and start playing it, but I picked the wrong time to do it,” he said on LA’s postgame telecast. “The ball came in, I was concentrating on the ball, and I didn’t take a look at who was around me and didn’t see him. That’s the way it happened. … Obviously, I need to not be so lackadaisical there.”
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena – who always has something interesting to say, and seems to be on real roll at the moment – was equally to the point on this one. He was asked if this was a “teachable moment,” which is really just a way for journalists to back into a question that’s pretty tough to ask.
What Arena said:
If it’s a teaching moment, he failed. He got a bad grade. He’s experienced enough as a player now that he shouldn’t be in that position.”
His point is well-made. We tend to think of Gonzalez as a “young” player because he’s relatively new to the U.S. national team scene. He’s no greybeard, but Gonzalez does turn 25 in less than a month. He’s a starter for the U.S. national team and two years removed from being named MLS Defender of the Year.
So, he’s no puppy dog in all this, either.
Here’s the goal: