Instead of trying to contain Argentina’s Lionel Messi alongside the rest of the U.S. Men’s National Team, Omar Gonzalez spent his Tuesday night in the Kansas City area.
Gonzalez, a World Cup starter left off the USMNT’s Copa America Centenario roster, is beginning his preseason training with Mexican club team Pachuca this week.
Pachuca took on fellow Liga MX member Santos Laguna at Children’s Mercy Park — a 1-1 tie in an exhibition match that kicked off within a half-hour of the U.S. match against Argentina in Houston.
“I was very surprised,” Gonzalez said of not making the USMNT call-ups. “I thought I’d done enough to at least make the roster. I was very upset, but I respected Jurgen (Klinnsman)’s decision. I told him, you know, ‘Thanks for the text message, and I’m gonna worry about winning a championship.’ ”
Gonzalez has 31 caps for the USMNT team, but head coach Klinnsman opted to exclude him from the Copa squad. The defender played seven seasons in Major League Soccer and won three MLS Cups with the LA Galaxy before transferring to Pachuca in December 2015.
Instead of joining his former World Cup and MLS teammates in Houston, Gonzalez spent Tuesday in steamy Kansas City, Kan. The two Mexican teams arrived in the area Monday night and kicked off the first day of their preseason training Tuesday morning.
Gonzalez, a regular starter in Pachuca’s Liga MX championship run last season, came off the bench in the second half.
He said he doesn’t think his time on the USMNT is over yet.
“I’m a starter for my team, who won a championship in a very tough league that is Liga MX,” he said. “To be honest, I’ve just got to keep looking forward. … I’m sure if I continue in that fashion, they will be watching, and hopefully they can give me another opportunity.”
Gonzalez and his Pachuca club were part of the latest chapter of international friendlies played on Sporting Kansas City’s turf. Tuesday’s match was only the second time that a Mexican club had played there, following up Deportivo Guadalajara’s match against Sporting in 2011.
Fans filed into the stadium Tuesday to the tune of Latin music piping through the speakers, and they sang along to the Mexican national anthem during player introductions. Lineups and play-by-play results were announced in Spanish for a largely Latin American crowd, announced at 6,512. About 200 of those waited in the stands afterward for autographs and conversations with the players.