The LA Galaxy announced the transfer of defender Omar Gonzalez to Liga MX C.F. Pachuca on Tuesday.
“We thank Omar for his contribution and dedication to this club throughout the past seven years,” head coach Bruce Arena said in a statement. “We wish Omar the best of luck with Pachuca.”
Gonzalez signed with the Mexican side Tuesday morning after the deal went through after about one week of quick negotiations, he said in an interview in Spanish with Pachuca. He also said there was an offer from the Galaxy, but he turned it down in order to sign with the Liga MX team.
The Galaxy previously expressed a commitment to keep Gonzalez for 2016, but his contract, which was bought down from designated player status with Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) in 2015, and the salary cap proved too difficult to reconcile. Gonzalez was guaranteed $1.45 million in 2015, according to MLS Players Union data. The terms of Tuesday’s deal were not announced.
Although MLS added more $800,000 of TAM this season for each team, it was still not enough for the team to buy down Gonzalez’s contract again. The transfer offers more financial flexibility for the Galaxy, who were subjected to their longest offseason in seven years after getting bounced from the MLS Cup Playoffs in the knockout stage.
“Omar is a part of our family and always part of the Galaxy family,” Galaxy president Chris Klein said in a phone interview. “We’ve had some great times with him. In the end, it’s a part of sports, it’s a part of soccer. … Omar has moved on and the Galaxy has to get to work in building up our roster and now we have more resources to do that.”
Gonzales was drafted by the Galaxy in 2009 and anchored the Galaxy backline to three MLS Cups. He was named to the MLS Best XI and earned MLS Defender of the Year honors in 2011 but had a shaky season last year, which included him not getting called up for the U.S. men’s national team for the CONCACAF Cup against Mexico.
“Leaving is never easy and change can be difficult,” Gonzalez wrote in a statement he released on Twitter and LAGalaxy.com. “However, this is an opportunity for me to continue to grow as a player and as a person.”
— Omar Gonzalez (@Omar4Gonzalez) December 22, 2015
As the Galaxy continue to retool their roster, Klein said the team is not focused solely on one position as it gets ready for CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal play in late February and the 2016 MLS season, which opens March 6.
The team president told LAGalaxy.com previously that retaining forward Alan Gordon, who is currently out of contract, is a priority. Rumors of European interest in forward Gyasi Zardes continued during the offseason, but Goal.com reported last week that Zardes was close to re-signing with the Galaxy. Zardes said last week while visiting his high school alma mater he is fully focused on returning to the Galaxy and he has two years left with the club.