Promising LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez is continuing to grow in his role with the MLS club. The 22-year old, who was named the 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year, was just as impressive in 2010 in his sophomore year with his efforts in central defence helping the Galaxy take out the Supporter's Shield and reach the semi-finals.
More often than not, young players are hit by the 'second year blues' after their initial emergence but Gonzalez was one who bucked that trend and performed as consistently in Year 2 as he did when he first arrived on the scene.
From the University of Maryland, Gonzalez stepped straight into Major League Soccer in '09 in a season where his club played off in the MLS Cup final (losing to Real Salt Lake on penalties) but nothing seemed to faze him as he went about his business despite being surrounded by stars, whichever way he looked.
But it was those players who helped the Dallas-born centre-half settle into professional football to begin with before teaching him lessons which enabled him to keep his head in his second season in North America's top flight.
"I put it down to me being around a good group of guys, a solid group of veterans that show me the right way to be," Gonzalez told tribalfootball.com. "I think that the amount of professionalism around here along with Landon (Donovan), David (Beckham), (Greg) Berhalter, Jovan (Kirovski), these guys are seasoned vets and just watching them year in and year out, I've learned a lot and that consistency is a key and next year I'll be trying to repeat that again."
Gonzalez is aware that after two years in the game at the top level, he has achieved plenty, but knows that plenty more can come if he maintain his stance on maturing his game.
"Going into my second year I received a few personal accolades and team-wise we got to the final and we've gone to the semi-finals (this year) so in these two years I think I've accomplished a lot but there is always room to grow and I'm looking forward to staying with this team for a while and winning a Championship next year," he added.
2010 also saw Gonzalez win his first USA cap in August when the national team took on Brazil in a friendly in New Jersey. The second-year MLS player couldn't believe his luck in playing against the likes of Robinho, Thiago Silva and Alexandre Pato (all AC Milan), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Lucas Leiva (Liverpool) and Ramires (Chelsea) and gained an insight into just what it takes to be play at the top.
"That was unreal. It really was," he said of his international debut. "I would never imagine my first cap being against Brazil. I think that the amount of skill I saw that game, it was great to see, and showed there is a lot to look forward to. I'm ready to put in the work and get better and hopefully see more games like that."
As for his future, Gonzalez was not getting too carried away .just yet.
"My plans are just to stay with the Galaxy for now but if there are any offers that come about, I'm open to looking at them but I will just see where things take me," he concluded.