BRIAN SCIARETTA - Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Herculez Gomez will look to continue his strong year when the US takes on five-time World Cup champion Brazil tonight at the New Medowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The game will be Gomez's first against the South American world power and he is excited by the opportunity to once again play on a big stage.
"It's a big deal. They have easily been one of the founding fathers of soccer," Gomez told YA from the New Medowlands Stadium. "You think of the sport and you think Brazil. You think pretty soccer you definitely think Brazil. So it's exciting. It's going to be a great game. These guys are going to be eager to prove themselves. They're good players. We're going to have to match that."
Gomez arrives in New Jersey as one of fifteen 2010 World Cup veterans on the US team. He made the team as one of the more surprising picks as he did not take part in any World Cup qualifying matches and head coach Bob Bradley admitted that he was completely off the radar as recently as February.
Gomez said that playing in the World Cup has changed him for the better as both a player and as a person. He looks forward to using that experience from South Africa to continue to grow and develop his game.
"It's definitely something you can grow from whether it'd be as a professional player or as a person," Gomez described of the impact of playing in the World Cup. "I am learning to deal with things that maybe a year ago I wouldn't have been able to. Maybe six months I wouldn't have been able to. So I think from that aspect I have grown a lot."
"It was something special," he continued. "It was something that for the rest of my life I will remember - the good and the bad and the situations on the field. What to do next time. It's going to be something you keep learning from."
Gomez began 2010 without a contract and it wasn't until the first few days in January when his agent informed of a trial possibility with Mexican club Puebla. Gomez not only succeeded in making the team but he also went on to grab a share of the league's scoring title.
That accomplishment earned him a World Cup spot despite not having played with the team since 2007. He frequently said that the experience was dream come true and even now, as a World Cup veteran who has won at Mexican scoring title, he still feels the same way.
"I've been very fortunate in my career. I've done things that not many people can say they have done. I know exactly how lucky I am, especially from where I came from. So I definitely consider myself to still be living the dream. "
Gomez is now 28 years old and is playing at Mexican club Pachuca who are among the more powerful teams in the country.
With the World Cup being four years away and the next meaningful international tournament, the Gold Cup, being almost a year away, Gomez still has a strong desire to play internationally as he takes pride in wearing the US jersey.
"My desire is still there," Gomez said frankly. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't. I wouldn't waste Bob's time or I wouldn't waste the guys' time here. I definitely love putting on this jersey. I love coming to train with these guys. I love the intensity even in the training sessions we have. It's an environment, a buzz, electricity that I crave. It's been fun and I hope to keep going."
While Gomez wants to keep moving forward with the US, he does not think much about the next World Cup in where he will be 32. Instead, he will continue to think in the short term.
"I am going to take it week-in-week-out," Gomez insisted. "That is what has brought me results so far. I can't think about Brazil 2014 now because I am thinking about Brazil tomorrow."
Tuesday's game against Brazil comes with a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the US national team. Bradley's contract with US Soccer expires at the end of the year and it is uncertain if he will be offered an extension or will instead, pursue other opportunities.
Gomez feels very strongly about the issue of Bradley's future and he is unequivocal in his support of his coach who he feels has played a large role in the rebirth of his career in 2010.
"Bob gave me my opportunity," Gomez said emotionally. "For the Copa America in 2007 he brought me in. I was appreciative for that opportunity and I didn't think I was ever going to get another one. He brought me into the 30 man World Cup camp when really nobody believed in me. I owe him a lot. It will be really sad if it is his last game. But I know he's got a lot ahead of him."
Gomez will hope to earn his eighth cap with the USMNT tonight against Brazil.
Following the game he will return to Mexico to help Pachuca as they take on Cruz Azul on Saturday. They have started off the season with four points from their first three games.