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RISING STAR: The Galaxy's Omar Gonzalez
by Bryan Alvarez, May 21st, 2009 7AM
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[MLS] In the 2009 SuperDraft, the Los Angeles Galaxy selected Omar Gonzalez, who played two years at the University of Maryland and helped it win the 2008 NCAA title, as the third overall pick. This product of the Dallas Texans youth system is already playing a significant role for the Galaxy, which has lost just once this season. He has played all 810 minutes of Los Angeles' nine games in central defense and even chipped a goal. Soccer America's Bryan Alvarez profiles the 20-year-old defender in the MLS Rising Stars series.

CLUB: FC Dallas
POSITION: Defender
AGE: 20
YOUTH CLUB: Dallas Texans
COLLEGE: Maryland
INTERNATIONAL: United States U-17s, U-20s.

STARTING OUT: My parents put me into it when I was 4 years old. I played baseball and basketball but these sports didn't interest me as much as soccer.

EARLY SOCCER MEMORY: I just remember how much fun it was. I loved playing every day and getting better.

FIRST CLEATS: I don't remember. But, I do remember when I got my first pair of Adidas Predators. I was so excited to wear them. I couldn't wait for the next game.

CURRENT CLEATS: Adidas Predators.

OTHER SPORTS: Baseball and basketball were when I was younger. I also kicked for football in high school.

FAVORITE TEAMS: Dallas Cowboys and Barcelona.
FAVORITE MOVIES: I like all kinds, especially comedies.

LIVING SITUATION: I live with A.J. DeLaGarza. We were roommates at Maryland, too.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: I see a lot of people doing well. Rodney [Wallace] and Chris [Pontius] are doing well in with D.C. United. [Steve] Zakuani is doing well in Seattle. I don't know who's going to win. I'm just happy my name is even being mentioned. It could go any way.

MLS EXPERIENCE: It couldn't be any better. We have a lot of veterans on our team that have been around for a long time. I'm getting a lot of playing time. I'm learning a lot from the veterans. Living in LA is the perfect life. The weather is great. It couldn't be better.

COLLEGE: If I hadn't gone to Maryland, I wouldn't be where I am now. Maryland was a great school. I grew up a lot when I was there. I credit Maryland for making me the player I am today.

MOST INFLUENTIAL COACH: I have two, my Dallas Texans coach, Marcio Leite and Sasho Cirovski from Maryland.

MEMORABLE COACHING ADVICE (from youth coach): The main thing is don't worry about things you can't control. Also, have a short memory. You have to forget about things quickly.

HOBBIES: I'm learning to play the guitar. I also like going to the beach and hanging out with the guys.
MUSIC: I like country but I listen to everything.
READING: I'm not reading anything right now. I'm waiting for Dan Brown's next book to come out.
VACATION: I've always wanted to go somewhere tropical like the Bahamas.
FAMOUS PEOPLE YOU'D INVITE TO DINNER: I don't know. It would be great to meet whoever, you know?


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