Scott French writes that the Los Angeles Galaxy's in 2011 has been primarily about defense, and third-year center back Omar Gonzalez's spectacular play -- especially the past six weeks or so -- has made a deep imprint as the club continues its run toward a second successive Supporters' Shield as MLS's regular-season champion.
“He's better in all areas now,” Coach Bruce Arena said. “Physically, he's always been a pretty gifted player for that position, but he's improved in his physical qualities. He's leader, faster, stronger than he's been. Has good endurance. I think the experience has [helped him] learn how to play in a 90-minute game, which was a weakness, maybe, in his first two seasons. He lost his concentration at times. He's grown in the physical part, and, obviously, technically and tactically he's getting better.”
Gonzalez, who will turn 23 next month, three U.S. camps under previous coach Bob Bradley -- including the past two January camps -- and won caps in friendlies last summer against Brazil and in January against Chile.
Arena, who rarely offers a public recommendation, says he think Gonzalez “needs to be looked at” by Jurgen Klinsmann and his staff. "Those are obviously decisions that those guys make,” Arena said. “But there are a couple emerging center backs in this league that I think are going to have to be part of the national team program. But, again, that's my opinion.”