Omar Gonzalez's big USMNT chance 

January, 24, 2013

TORRANCE, Calif. -- For a guy with so much at stake this month, Omar Gonzalez sure seems relaxed.

The towering Los Angeles Galaxy defender was all smiles as he lounged in the lobby of the national team's hotel here Wednesday, happily stopping to snap a picture with a security guard before sitting down to discuss the serious matter of his immediate professional future -- a future that could be determined in large part by how well he performs at this very training camp.

But Gonzalez doesn't seem worried about any of that. After all, he has made that mistake before.

Around this time last year, Gonzalez was in Germany, on loan to Bundesliga club Nurnberg during the MLS offseason. He had just won a title with the Galaxy and been named the league's best defender. He was already knocking on the national team door; a few good performances against some of the world's best players in one of the Europe's top leagues -- in U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann's home country, no less -- figured to propel him up the U.S. depth chart quickly. Then, in his first training session with the club, he suffered one of the worst injuries a soccer player can get, tearing the ACL in his left knee.

Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.