WOODY BAUM - Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Herculez Gomez' offseason move to Mexican club Puebla is paying huge dividends as the American striker continues his torrid goal-scoring pace in the BiCentenario.
Gomez signed with Puebla three lackluster seasons in MLS with Kansas City Wizards and Colorado Rapids, returning to familiar territory as he had started his professional career in Mexico with the second division team of Cruz Azul.
Since arriving in Puebla, Gomez has taken the Mexican league by storm, scoring seven goals, tied for second in the league, despite playing as a second half substitute in many of Puebla's games. He recently finished a five goal scoring streak and on Sunday, March 28th, scored the winning goal against Club America.
While one might be inclined to suggest that his improved play has something to do with a change in environment, coaching staff, support, or system, Herculez disagrees saying it was more due to timing than anything else and finally being injury-free.
"There was no big difference," Gomez told YA in Mexico. "I was recovering from my ACL injury."
Gomez acknowledged a good friendship with fellow ex-MLSer and former league Golden Boot Winner Carlos "El Pescadito" Ruiz as also having helped with the transition.
"I have teamed up a bit with Carlos Ruiz. I played with him back in Los Angeles," explained Gomez. "I wish I could play with him more, but we play the same position. Here, everyone's good and everyone wants to play."
While Gomez' season has been excellent, his team, Puebla, has had its ups and downs.
Due to the team's inconsistency, head coach, Jose Luis Sanchez, recently threatened to quit if Puebla didn't beat America.
Even though the club has failed to put together a string of positive results, the California native maintains that other teams in the Primera Division are still very wary of facing off against Los Camoteros.
"Puebla, although we're not having the best of seasons, is known for being one of the toughest teams to play against," Gomez claimed. "Nobody wants to play us."
Puebla have had a tough schedule so far this season, having to play traditional powerhouses such as Santos, the current leader of Group Three with 24 points.
But facing a top team like Santos, only gives the former LA Galaxy man more incentive to go out and score.
"It's a tough place to play," said Gomez of the Guerreros. "But that's why I'm here [Mexico]."
Gomez' recent scoring run has been turning heads back home, and given the injuries to Charlie Davies, and the US national team's current issues at forward, many are now wondering if he could be given a late call up to the 23-man roster for the World Cup.
When pressed about whether his scoring run could contribute to a call up, Gomez remains realistic about the subject.
"It's not the best timing," he acknowledged, noting that he has not yet been contacted by US head coach Bob Bradley. "I just have to keep trying and do my best."
"I'm having a blast. I'm having one of the best times of my life."