Omar Gonzalez is coming back to MLS, and he'll join a Toronto FC side looking to get back to the top of the league.
Omar Gonzalez is coming back to MLS.
Toronto FC has used its place atop the league's allocation order to acquire the 30-year-old U.S. men's national team center back, bringing him back to MLS after more than three years in Mexico's Liga MX–upon the opening of the secondary transfer window on July 9. The allocation order is designed to distribute select youth and senior U.S. national team players along with players who have left MLS on transfers worth more than $500,000 only to return. Toronto used the mechanism to acquire Laurent Ciman, who will pair with Gonzalez in the center of TFC's remade defense, earlier this year, and traded its way back to the top in order to be in position to pounce again.
Gonzalez, who will reportedly join the club on a deal through the 2021 season with an option for one more, has enjoyed plenty of success on the club level, winning three MLS Cups with the LA Galaxy as the defensive centerpiece of the David Beckham-Robbie Keane-Landon Donovan-led teams and even winning MLS Cup MVP in 2012. He also won Liga MX Clausura and Concacaf Champions League titles with Pachuca before moving to Atlas on loan last year. Prior to his professional career, Gonzalez won an NCAA national championship at the University of Maryland, and he's also won two Concacaf Gold Cups on the international level.
He made his return to the national team–coached by his former Galaxy teammate, Gregg Berhalter–in March, for the first time since his own goal in Trinidad & Tobago played a big role in the U.S. failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. TFC had reportedly tried to acquire him before the closing of the primary transfer window, but the deal couldn't get pushed over the finish line.
Now that the club has him lined up, TFC will be hoping that Gonzalez, a four-time MLS Best XI defender and 2011 MLS Defender of the Year, continues his run of good form on the club level. The Reds have conceded a middle-of-the-pack 23 goals through 14 games but were atrocious in defense a season ago, with only four teams conceding more than the 64 goals they coughed up in 2018.
“Omar has won numerous championships and has played on the biggest stage in world football. He is an experienced defender with over 200 appearances in MLS, including 25 playoff matches where he won five trophies in seven years,” Toronto FC general manager Ali Curtis said in a statement. “His experience as a player but equally as important, who he is as a person will be a welcomed addition to our group here in Toronto.”
Gonzalez signing with Toronto reunites him with national team teammates and fellow 2014 World Cup veterans Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.