Come with me. We're going to take off to a land of improbability for a few minutes as we look at a possibility of one of our current USMNT players returning to MLS to finish off his career. But not just any player, mind you, we're talking about Herculez Gomez, the current Seattle Sounders destroyer, and now Seattle fan enemy. Could there be a more perfect match for the Portland Timbers?
Over the last two weeks, Gomez has played against the Seattle Sounders twice, adding to the two games he played against them last year. In addition to scoring four goals against the Sounders -- three last year and one this year -- he has also engaged in a sort of back and forth with the fans.
In a sense, Gomez eggs them on and then uses their angry energy to motivate himself. And then he scores goals. Yeah, it's a far cry to say that Santos Laguna is continuing on in the CCL and the Sounders aren't because of a little trash talk between player and fans. Still, Gomez seems to thrive on being an enemy of the Emerald City Supporters, and that, well, just sounds great to me.
But let's take a look at why Gomez would work out here in Portland. In truth, Gomez would probably be welcome at any MLS club these days, including the Seattle Sounders. He's a prolific scorer in Liga MX and has solidified himself in Jürgen Klinsmann's camp for the USMNT. So to say that most clubs wouldn't jump at the opportunity to have him on their roster would probably be wrong, at least to some degree.
Where he makes sense for Portland, however, is indeed in his ability to score against the Seattle Sounders, as well as his quality overall. There's been one dynamic since joining MLS where the Timbers have lacked a bit against the Sounders and that's in our inability to create a true foe for them. I'm sure Sounders fans hate many of our players -- Diego Chara and Will Johnson spring to mind -- but there hasn't been that one player, that arch-enemy.
And by arch-enemy, I don't mean just some Brad Evans type who likes to run his mouth. I'm talking about guys who talk smack and then get it done on the field. For the Timbers, Kasey Keller and Fredy Montero were often that type of player. Eddie Johnson, too, seems to have quite enjoyed his success against the Timbers. And then there's Roger Levesque. While I'm sure the Timbers are building players that will eventually become that type of player, Herculez Gomez already is one.
And this is all not even touching on Gomez's former relationship with current Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid. According to a recent article on MLSsoccer.com, the Sounders coach told him to "consider another line of work" when the two were at the LA Galaxy:
In previous interviews, Gomez said Schmid told him that he couldn't see a future in the game for the then 19-year-old striker when the two were with the LA Galaxy. With a little time to think, the 2010 World Cup veteran admitted that there were more pertinent issues to talk about surrounding the tie.
Ouch. But what better way to pay back your old coach than by scoring the goal that threw his team out of the continent's highest tournament? That's gotta feel good.
Finally, some of you might be asking: does Gomez even want to play in MLS? That answer, apparently, is yes. While rumors of his return to Chivas USA turned out to be an April Fools' joke, the Mexican-American striker says that he does indeed want to return to MLS... he just hasn't received any calls about it:
"I love the [United States]. This is my home," Gomez said. "But to this day, there hasn't been one MLS club to approach me with an offer. So the ball's in their court."
Seems like, at the very least, the Timbers would be free to court him, although they would have to work around Sporting Kansas City's right of first refusal on him.
Of course, this is all dependent on one final thing: the Timbers' need for a striker of his caliber -- right now I'm not so sure. Granted, depth is always something you desperately want, but the area where Gomez would operate is currently in the opposite end of where the Timbers seriously need help right now, especially with recent injuries happening.
Still, summer is a long time away, next year's off-season transfer window even longer. No matter when Gomez would be able to make it back to MLS, the fact remains that he's built up a few fans here in Portland for his antics against Seattle and that's gotta count for something.
Now if only we could get the two parties to start talking!
(Also, Gomez already has a nice Cascadia-esque beard. He would fit right in!)
What would you think of Gomez's return to MLS? Would you want him here in Portland? Would he make a solid fan-enemy for Seattle fans?
Andy Wheeler contributed to this piece.