On July 2 Omar Gonzalez told reporters he just might surprise them in his recovery from an ACL injury. He didn't disappoint. He started and played the first half two days later in a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union.
However, in the four MLS games since, he only managed 22 minutes against Chivas USA last Saturday.
So in the 1-1 draw with Tottenham on Tuesday night, Bruce Arena used the chance to give the 2011 MLS Defender of the Year a 64-minute run-out.
"When we played him July 4 against Philadelphia – he played 45 minutes – he didn't come out of that as well as we would have liked," Arena explained. "He's been out since.
"Tonight it'll be interesting to see how he feels over the next couple days. He's not only coming back from a serious injury but it's essentially preseason for him. His minutes have to be managed like any other player in that position."
The 23-year-old rounding toward fitness closer to August fits better with initial estimates when Gonzalez suffered his torn ACL during his first training session on trial with Bundesliga side Nuremberg in January.
"It was good to get that full sprint out there," the 6-foot-5 defender said. He targeted a full 90 minutes this weekend against FC Dallas. "We'll see how I feel. I definitely want to get the start."
Gonzalez played well enough alongside David Junior Lopes, who scored the equalizing goal for the Galaxy, that Tottenham coach Andre Villas-Boas praised the U.S. international.
"Both central defenders played quite well and created lots of problems, not only defending but through possession," Villas-Boas said, "very comfortable with the ball."
Arena is eager for his defensive pillar to return to his 2011 form.
"Our goal is to get him on the field on a full-time basis," Arena said. "We just need to see how he reacts from week to week."
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- Omar Gonzalez
- Bruce Arena