Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez, who got a surprise start in the third and final U.S. group game in Brazil, said today in a teleconference with local media arranged by the club that he was taken aback to get the chance in the middle of the defense after largely missing out on the first two World Cup outings:
“I was definitely surprised about getting the start,” he said from Brazil. “Jurgen wasn’t making too many changes in the lead up matches.”
And Gonzalez said his personal goals went out the window when the tournament arrived. He went from wanting to establish himself as an automatic first-choice regular at the start of the year to just hoping he would make the roster after the injury that disrupted his run-up to the World Cup.
“My mindset the whole time was I was going to be ready (if called upon),” he said. “I wasn’t worried too much about what are the coaches thinking. … I was happy my name got called and basically got out there and do what I do.”
Meanwhile, Gonzalez said he’s become more motivated by the level of interest in the World Cup indicated by the reaction from social media and the large crowds gathering for viewing parties that are becoming ever more prevalent:
“It makes you want to work harder for all the people who are watching,” he said on the eve of the crucial game against Belgium. “Hopefully we can get them a win.”
If you haven’t yet caught one, this is the day to play hookey from work or school since it’s not only win or go home, but the atmosphere is infectious and about as close to being in Brazil as you can get, Galaxy President Chris Klein told me this morning:
“The location in the South Bay is something you only see down in Rio,” he said.
But get there early (the Galaxy suggest 11 a.m.) given the 1,500-plus or so who showed up in Hermosa:
Parking is available at the Pier parking structure north of Torrance Circle, the George Freeth Parking lot immediately west of the park, the Pier Plaza parking structure at the south end of Harbor Drive and the west end of Pacific Ave. and the Redondo Beach Marina lot on the west side of Harbor Drive, south of Portofino Way.