CONCACAF Champions League: The One That Got Away Spurns MLS Again in Semis

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 3, 2013

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 05:  Christian Suarez, #13 of Club Santos Laguna celebrates with teammate Herculez Gomez, #16 after scoring a goal against Real Madrid CF during the first half at the World Football Challenge match at Sam Boyd Stadium on August 5, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
David Becker/Getty Images

Most players who leave League Soccer for greener pastures, whether it be Europe, Mexico or South America, depart with plenty of praise from their previous team. 

That was not the case for Herculez Gomez, who at 30 years old is in the form of his life playing for Santos Laguna in Liga MX.

Gomez and his Santos Laguna teammates made the venture up to the Pacific Northwest to play the Seattle Sounders in the first leg of the CONCACAF on Tuesday night. In the game, Gomez did something he has done on a frequent basis in the competition—score against a MLS team. 

Gomez, who has earned 21 caps for the United States, struck home a powerful shot past Sounders keeper Marcus Hahnemann in the 54th minute to give the Mexican side a valuable away goal as they head back to Torreon for the second leg in a week's time. 

Before he was setting the pitches of Mexico on fire with his goal-scoring , Gomez struggled to find playing time and any type of form at home in MLS. 

Gomez's first full season with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2005 showed how much natural ability the forward possessed as he scored 18 goals in all competitions.

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Matthew Doyle @MattDoyle76

Just want to point out that in @herculezg's one season as a starting forward in MLS, he scored 18 goals in 30 games across all comps.

After that season in Los Angeles, Gomez's play in MLS went in the direction that his career path would take him four years later—south. 

The Galaxy did not see much from Gomez in 2006, and after only scoring five goals in all competitions that season he was shipped off to Colorado, along with defender Ugo Ihemelu, to play for the Rapids. 

In 2007, Gomez got off to a hot start by scoring the first goal at the new soccer-specific Dick's Sporting Goods Park. However, his spot in the Colorado history books would be one of the only marks he would leave on the Rapids franchise. 

The next stop on the tour of MLS for Gomez was in Kansas City after he was once again traded, but this time it came during the 2008 season.

Gomez did go on to play for the Wizards, as they were known then, for the entire 2009 season before making his departure from the American domestic league a permanent one. 

It would be at Puebla where Gomez not only found his goal-scoring form, but found his spot in the record books as well. Gomez became the first American player to a lead a foreign league in goals when he netted 10 for Los Carnoteros.

After his 10-goal season at Puebla, Gomez became a hot commodity at both the club and international levels. After a two-year absence, Gomez was called back up to the United States squad by then-manager Bob Bradley and he has become part of the national team conversation ever since. 

After stops at Pachuca and Estudiantes Tecos, Gomez found his way to Torreon to play for Santos Laguna this season. During his time in Mexico, Gomez has made MLS fans remember his name. 

In CONCACAF Champions League play, Gomez has scored nine goals—all of which have come against MLS opposition. His latest exploits against the club he spent one season with in 2003 once again proved that the 30-year-old has developed into a reliable forward south of the border. 

Tom Marshall @mexicoworldcup

Herculez Gomez up to 9 goals in the CCL. All have been against MLS teams.

For American soccer fans, the success of Gomez is bittersweet. Knowing that one of the top forwards in the national team setup is scoring goals is always a positive. But, whenever Gomez has scored on the continental club stage, he has done it against teams from the league that let him slip through the cracks and succeed south of the border. 

Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90. 


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