Santos Laguna forward Herculez Gomez was available at a postgame press conference to chat about Tuesday’s CONCACAF Champions League semifinal opener against Sounders FC and more. The U.S. international, of course, scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for the Mexican visitors.
Gomez, as some of you may know, played on loan for the USL Sounders in the 2003, so he’s got a local connection, as well.
Here is the transcript of his portion of the press conference:
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(On his goal and going back home with a 1-0 lead…) “I don’t recall whose shot forced a good save out of Marcus; I was fortunate to get on the end of the rebound. That was pretty much all that happened. After that it was just a blur. It feels good coming back. The objective for us was to come out of here with a win. We wanted to definitely put them on their heels, and definitely try to go at them at home — set a good tone for the second match. We know they’re a good team, so we’re happy with our performance. Obviously … we could do a lot of things better, especially on the defensive side of our organization, but we’ll take the win.”
(On how confident is the team with going home after dominating MLS teams there in recent years…) “I think that’s the great thing about our team. This team keeps working for more. Our coaches have kept us pretty humble up until this point. We know that we’re playing against a good team. They have done a great job of getting here, so we have to respect our opponent. By no means is this already assured for the next leg. We still have a lot to play for.”
(On his history with the Sounders’ fans and being called a Sounders reject early in the game…) “I love it. Being called a Sounders reject — any kind of reject — digs deep. It fuels fire. I didn’t have the easiest go at the beginning of my career, so any chance I can get to definitely redeem myself is a good chance. I thought it was a good play on that on my first shot. I thought that Zach Scott did a very good job on closing me down and closing that angle to help Marcus out. I couldn’t get it quite on frame like I wanted to, but that’s part of being a striker — you’ve got to keep working. They always say that the next play is the most important play, so that is what I was looking forward to was the next play, and fortunately for us we came out on top.”
(On what he thought of DeAndre Yedlin…) “Good player. Good little kid. I told him after the game to keep his head up. What is he? 19? It’s his first year as a professional, and he can only get better. He’s going to learn. He has a good group of guys around him. I think the Sounders are well coached. And I think he is going to learn a lot. I was impressed with him.”
(On what he remembers from his brief time Seattle…) “Well, I was 21 so I don’t remember much. I was here for maybe two months, and it was probably one of the best summers that I have ever had. It was like 50 straight days of sunshine, plus 70-degree weather, which is unheard of in Seattle. So I had a blast. Adrian (Hanauer) and the Seattle organization are top notch; even back then when they were A-League it was impressive. I’m proud of how far they have come. I’m proud of what you guys have established here, because it is something special around the league. I was proud to be a Seattle Sounder.”
(On if he expects a different reaction from the fans on June 11 for a World Cup qualifier…) “I hope so. I think the reaction I got from the fans was a pretty good one after the game. Fans were pretty appreciative, and I think they know that when the 90 minutes were over, I became a national team player again. They let me know how they felt, and that was pretty special.”
(On what summer that was, nineteen-ninety what?) “Oh come on man! It was 2003. Give me a break!”
(On if it’s cool to see where you and a guys from that team like Zach Scott have come since those days…) “Absolutely. (Brian Schmetzer) was the coach. Zach was there. I spoke to him during the game — asked him how his family was, how he was. I know he was one of the few players that have played a decade with the Sounders, and that’s pretty impressive just playing a decade alone with one team. I’m happy for him. It’s always good to see good people get rewarded in that way. It’s good to see old faces, you know — Brad (Evans) and Marcus (Hahnemann). Marcus is an awesome guys. He was with me in the World Cup, and I thought he was just hilarious. It’s always good to see the guys, and like I said, coming back to the States for me is always special. I enjoy my time in Mexico, but there is nothing like being home.”
(On if that’s why he scores so many goals against MLS teams…) “I enjoy being home.”
(On seeing what Chelis has done in MLS with Chivas USA…) “I didn’t think it’d go this well for them, to be honest. If I’m going to be frank with you guys. But I think he was a breath of fresh air that Chivas desperately needed. Honestly, he’s got his own tactics and ways of motivating people and kind of seeing and reading the game, but he seems to get just the most out of his players, and there’s something to be said for that. I think they’re doing great and I hope they continue to do well because I consider him a friend. He helped me in a tough time, so I wish him all the best.”
(On his success despite being a foreign coach that didn’t know the league…) “Well, how many coaches that don’t know the league come here and utterly fail? This is a different league. They have their own set of rules and internal kind of ways of working things, and if you don’t really understand the league, you’re setting yourself up for failure. So I think what they’ve done and they’re doing speaks for itself.”