Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Omar heads impressive rookie class
by Ridge Mahoney, November 11th, 2009 6:45AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS] In March, when Galaxy coach Bruce Arena got word that former U.S. international Gregg Berhalter wished to leave European soccer for MLS, he made sure the rugged central defender knew what he'd be in for. Arena had already made up his mind that rookie Omar Gonzalez, chosen by Los Angeles with its first pick in the 2009 SuperDraft, would be starting in the middle. He paired Berhalter with the 6-foot-5 University of Maryland product, who gets my vote for MLS Rookie of the Year against some very stiff competition.

Gonzalez started all 30 games, committed just 29 fouls, and backstopped a revamped defense that cut its goals allowed total in half, from 62 to 31, from a dismal 2008 season during which the Galaxy missed the playoffs for the third straight season. Big and strong and fast, the most arresting aspect of Gonzalez's play was the calmness and poise he brought to the most frantic situations. He and Berhalter and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts - all newcomers to MLS -- formed a solid defensive core that stabilized what had been a chaotic, disjointed team.

Nearly as influential was another central defender, the Revs' Darrius Barnes, who played every minute (2,700) for an injury-ravaged team that scraped into the playoffs. New England right back Kevin Alston showed incredible potential while playing 26 games, and Gonzalez's teammate, outside back A.J. DeLaGarza, performed solidly before a late-season injury cut into his playing time.

D.C. United unveiled two rookies, forward Chris Pontius and Rodney Wallace, who provided many bright moments in a disappointing season. Toronto FC goalie Stefan Frei committed the rookie mistakes that are inevitable to young keepers, but his courageous command of the penalty area and superb reflexes repelled many more shots than his errors let slip past him.

TFC midfielder Sam Cronin played enough good games to deservedly earn a call-up to the U.S. team for the Concacaf Gold Cup. Wizard Matt Besler logged a lot of minutes at outside back and in central defense.

The No. 1 pick, midfielder Steve Zakuani of Seattle, swapped superb games with a few indifferent ones as teams adjusted to his considerable pace. He narrowly won the rookie scoring race with four goals and four assists, just nipping Pontius (4, 3) and Wallace (3, 3).

Among those rookies who emerged late in the season are yet another TFC player, forward O'Brian White, Chivas USA midfielder Michael Lahoud, and FC Dallas defender George John.

MLS finalists: Stefan Frei (Toronto FC), Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles), Chris Pontius (D.C. United).

 

Ridge Mahoney's Pick: Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles).



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Ohio Wesleyan mourns freshman Luke Gabbert's death    
Luke Gabbert, who had just completed his freshman season at perennial Division III power Ohio Wesleyan, ...
What They're Saying: Don Garber    
"We are very excited about the possibilities in St. Louis. We believe it's MLS-ready. We've got ...
USA-Canada Takeaways: Year makes big difference    
The USA swept two games at a January camp for only the second time in a ...
Ashley Cole: 'I'm not a diva'    
Ashley Cole was not going to get away with his introductory press conference in Los Angeles ...
What They're Saying: Ashley Cole    
"I didn't come here to sit on the beach, to rest." -- Ashley Cole, the 35-year-old ...
U.S. Abroad: Gonzalez and Wood get big goals    
Omar Gonzalez kept Pachuca unbeaten in the Liga MX's Torneo Apertura when he scored on a ...
Video Picks: Top 5 EPL Goals of the Week    
Jermain Defoe (Sunderland), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea), Alex Chamberlain (Arsenal), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City) and Jesse Lingard ...
MLS Preseason: Training camp and friendly schedules    
Newly acquired Jack McInerney scored two goals as the defending champion Portland Timbers defeated their Cascadia ...
MLS player tracker with complete rosters (Feb. 5-6)    
Walker Zimmerman is back with FC Dallas. The 22-year-old defender whose late goal kept it in ...
What They're Saying: David Wagner    
"It wasn't a surprise for me. I spoke with Jurgen Klinsmann maybe a year ago and ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives