I am despondent over Omar Gonzalez, and you should be, too. And not just if you're a Galaxy fan - if anything, this means that Gonzalez will be back in Los Angeles at the end of next season, perhaps. This was much more of a disaster for the US national team. (Or, if Klinsmann had been particularly stupid, the Mexican national team.) In case we forgot, this was what Gonzalez was doing in Germany:
....Sporting News has learned that Gonzalez, his agents and Nürnberg officials worked out a deal that could do far more for the player’s future than perhaps even the mercurial national team coach. Nürnberg spokesperson Martin Bader said on the club’s website that a permanent transfer is possible over the summer.
This is more than a loan. It’s an audition.
Nürnberg recently sold defender Philipp Wollscheid to Bundesliga rival Bayer Leverkusen, leaving a spot vacant in the back line (which includes U.S. national team defender Timmy Chandler) next fall.
“Omar is an interesting candidate—a young, talented player,” Bader said of the 6-5, 23-year-old who marshaled a youthful Galaxy defense in two consecutive Supporters Shield-winning seasons.
Klinsmann told ESPN that Gonzalez’s and John’s departures are “totally cool with me.” Neither was among the coach’s first-choice defenders, the January camp isn’t crucial and European seasoning might help both players improve.
Their trips abroad should be cool with the Galaxy and FC Dallas officials as well. Both Gonzalez and John are entering the final year of their MLS contracts. When those deals expire at the conclusion of the 2012 season, they would be free agents and able to move abroad without any transfer fee. That won’t be an issue for John, who’s now on the verge of a permanent move.
While Nürnberg’s Bader referenced a summer move for Gonzalez, it might be in the Galaxy’s best interest to sell the defender now and collect guaranteed compensation. During the summer transfer window, Gonzalez would be eligible to sign a binding pre-contract agreement with the club of his choosing.
MLS couldn’t stand in his way, and he’d then be able to play out the remaining three-plus months of the Galaxy’s season and walk away.
Gonzalez is a winner either way. He could join Nürnberg immediately and begin his European career sooner or wait and sign the pre-contract deal over the summer. At that point, he’ll have set himself up for a larger signing bonus. Instead of paying a transfer fee to MLS, Nürnberg could put that money straight into the player’s pocket.
Sure, now "Gonzalez is a winner either way" looks ironic and stupid, but Straus was right, and what Gonzalez was doing was completely understandable. The Galaxy knew that Omar was a person of interest long before this. Unless LA was planning to hand out Designated Player money, Omar was either gone at the end of the year, or gone in August.
And unlike the US, the Galaxy don't have to replace Omar with some crappy, worthless American. Last year at this time, there were lingering questions about Gonzalez' positioning and such. Another year with Arena, Sarachan, Berhalter must have done him wonders. Tell me what more Omar had to prove in MLS. If he still wasn't an international quality defender, then staying in the league wouldn't have helped.
The guy Omar should talk to right now is DC United's coach. Not because he should switch clubs after his injury (although I'm sure DCU would kill for him), but because Ben Olsen went through the same thing...if anything, Olsen's experience was worse.
Olsen was a mortal lock to transfer to Nottingham Forest before a terrible ankle injury kept him out for eighteen freaking months. I'm not the only one who says that Olsen wasn't quite the same player afterwards, and Olsen made it onto an ever-lovin' World Cup roster.
Klinsmann didn't put Omar at the top of his list, which simply tells me that Preston Zimmerman isn't totally wrong. I said many times that if Mexico called Omar up, I'd have switched national team loyalties. Partly because he's such an easy guy to cheer for, partly because it was fantastic watching him play (and will be again, I'm sure of it). But partly because if Klinsmann is going to ignore guys with upsides as monumental as Omar's was, cheering for the US this cycle is going to be more trouble than it's worth. (Maybe if Greece calls up George John I can cheer for them.) (Although John quit on FC Dallas, which makes me queasy about him. I can only imagine how FCD fans feel about him.)
In any case, it's unproductive, inaccurate, and more than a tiny bit childish to say the Galaxy or Gonzalez were stupid or greedy to agree to this loan. This was an understandable, logical, and correct choice that other players have made before and will make again. The Galaxy are taking a lot of heat for giving out more loans this winter than Countrywide, but there's nothing that says Omar's injury couldn't have happened in national team camp. (Unless we think Timothy Chandler was out to get Gonzalez.) This was a terrible setback for American soccer, in my opinion, but that's all it was. There's no blame to be assigned and no lesson to learn. There's nothing for us here except to wish Omar a speedy recovery.
On that happy note, some housekeeping notes and some upcoming news. We'll officially announce it on Monday, but we're going to be giving away a couple of nice prizes in connection with Rise and Shine: the Jay DeMerit Story. Specifically, a poster and a DVD. We're working on the specific nature of the contests, but I'm leaning towards a Google-proof trivia contest for one, and an essay contest for the other. Since we're trying to promote our Twitter presence, I'm also considering a Twitter contest wherein you explain why you deserve a prize IN EXACTLY 144 CHARACTERS. (I'm DanLoney36, if you care. BigSoccer is, you'll be flabbergasted to hear, bigsoccer.)
We're also trying to finalize who will judge - here are my preferences:
1. Jay himself - c'mon, it's the offseason 2. Jay's representatives pretending to be Jay 3. Jay's representatives, openly 4. A panel of BigSoccer luminaries 5. Me pretending to be a BigSoccer panel 6. Me admitting I'm judging them myself
Once these details are set, we'll start the fun. Tell your Watford Whitecaps friends!