SBI’s 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year: Omar Gonzalez

Omar Gonzalez 2 (
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Being the top rookie in any MLS rookie class is an accomplishment, but being the best rookie in arguably the strongest rookie class in league history makes the 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year award more special than most.

There were plenty of rookies who stepped up and enjoyed solid first seasons, from New England's Darrius Barnes, to Toronto FC's Stefan Frei, to D.C. United's Chris Pontius. All could have been rookie of the year in some other years, but not this year. In 2009, Los Angeles central defender Omar Gonzalez was the clear choice for the honor. His steady play in central defense for the Galaxy was a major reason for the club's return to the playoffs and a reason why the Galaxy is considered a favorite to win a third MLS Cup title.

Gonzalez's season started slowly as he adapted to the speed of play in MLS, but slowly but surely he gained confidence and found his footing and eventually established himself as the team's most consistent and reliable defender.

It was his steady play, and role in the Galaxy's renaissance, that gave him the edge on our ballot ahead of New England's Darrius Barnes and Toronto FC's Stefan Frei.

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51 Responses to SBI’s 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year: Omar Gonzalez

  1. Max G says:

    A true standout, a big guy who plays big.

    Let’s make sure the plane to Brazil has some extra leg room.

  2. Jorge says:

    Congrats to Omar.

  3. afrim says:

    i agree.. it also helps to learn from 2 very accomplished american defenders in practice everyday (Sanneh and Berhalter) This kid has the raw tools to be something real special

  4. Sean M says:

    I agree with this one for sure,I think if Gonzo becomes more agressive and starts winning balls on attacking headers more like Marshall,then I cant see this guy not getting called up to the camp in january.

  5. jloome says:

    Steady play? Wasn’t he on the backline that gave up six goals to Dallas just two months ago?

    This is like giving an Oscar to a movie that came out right before the voting cycle; it’s more about what people remember than reality. He was a definite contender by the end of the year, but to rate him for the whole season over Pontius and Frei, who both performed well for the entire year, is categorically unfair.

    (SBI-J, how many non-TFC games are you watching? How much MLS aside from highlights are you watching? I’ll give you that Frei has a decent argument, he was my second choice, but the rest of your rant is jibberish. Feel free to express an opinion, but all the rest, such as your Oscar analogy and your “categorically unfair” line, is just nonsense.)

  6. bayonetbrant says:

    Congrats to Omar. Not easy to blend in with all that experience around you and I’m sure he had to grow up fast.

    While I wouldn’t make a case for Eric Brunner as Rookie of the Year, I think he would be worthy of inclusion on any All-Rookie team.

  7. Richard, UK says:

    Props to Matt Besler (Kansas City), Kevin Alston (New England), Sam Cronin (Toronto FC), Rodney Wallace (D.C. United) and A.J. DeLaGarza (Los Angeles). I thought they all looked good this year.

  8. afrim says:

    Jloome….LA has the best GAA this year IIRC. add to the fact that Pontius and Frei will be watching the playoffs from their futon’s and we got ourselves a sure winner in Gonzalez

  9. alisonrose says:

    That game was the result of poor performance by the whole team, not just Gonzalez. And other than that game, I can’t recall one where I specifically thought he underperformed.

    So, one bad game does not negate “steady play”. The “reality” is that overall, Gonzalez has had a very strong year, and thanks to that, has played a crucial role in bringing the Galaxy up from the depths to the top of the Western conference.

  10. mattjack says:

    O-o-o-omar… doing my NKOTB dance..

  11. jamesey says:

    The Galaxy only gave up 13 goals from the run of play this year. Omar had a lot to do with that.

  12. dman says:

    ….cough cough omar leave the mls you won’t regret playing in euro

  13. BSU SC says:

    Solid choice, but I would have gone with Steve Zakuani. I also think A.J. De La Garza should have had some consideration.

  14. huricano says:

    Will could OmGonz get a look for the Nats given all the injuries?

  15. Russ says:

    I wanted to argue Brunner, too, but technically you’re not a rookie if you’ve played a previous year professionally (he played for Miami FC last year).

  16. ELAC says:

    Im a Chivas USA fan through and through, but this pick was a no-brainer.

    Omar has not played like a rookie for most of this season. I hope he gets an honest shot for the USMNT in 2010.

  17. Zack says:

    I can’t wait to watch Steve Zakuani zip right passed him.

  18. CSD says:

    Does he get a t-shirt?

  19. Isaac says:

    Bayonetbrant you gave me an idea. I wonder if MLS would consider an All-Rookie game. The top coach from the East and the top coach from the West get to pick rookies from the league to play in this game and the one with more points in their respective conference gets the first pick. It’s like a college draft format, except it’s for one game. I think that would be a great way to get fans to appreciate rookies who don’t get enough credit, and, of course, an interesting match.

  20. froboy says:

    fear the turtle, Maryland continues to represent

  21. PGS says:

    cap him?

  22. MVK says:

    for sure, the depth of the rookie class isnt defined by a top 3, you could field a decent team in the MLS with rookies from this year

  23. Ceez says:

    What the hell. No one said Omar was the fastest. That’s why he’s a CENTRAL defender. Now, AJ DeLaGarza, Keven Alston, Marvell Wynne…that’s a different story.

    I feel like calling you a dumbass but I won’t.

  24. Nic D "The Texas 2 Stepper" says:

    I want him called in. He is a dual national right? Would be a nice reward in acknowledgment of a stellar year.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing a rookies vs 2nd Year game the night before the All Star game next year. Could be sweet.

  25. Supsam says:

    to judge a person based on one off game is ignorant. Everyone has their bad days. Maybe you didnt realize the time period where Pontius went invisible and lost his starting role or when Frei’s GAA started to slowly increase and those werent based on an “off game” like the Dallas-LA game.

  26. Supsam says:

    not anytime soon with the WC coming up. The friendlies coming are for players already in the mix trying to build chemistry. Now is not the time to introduce unknown talent in international play. Exceptions are Jones and Castillo who have played internationally before with Germany and Mexico respectively and Edu already has caps

  27. Supsam says:

    Hopefully Gonzalez wont be needed with Bocanegra, Onyewu (fit), Demerit (fit), Conrad, Marshall (fit), and maybe even Spector.

  28. KungFuSoccer says:

    I nominate A.J. Delagarza for best value for pick # in the draft.

  29. Scott says:

    Yet another quality product of Sasho Cirovski and the Maryland Terrapins. Congrats Omar!

    @ KungFu: Agreed. A.J.D. is an absolute work horse. He’s not all that big, but he throws every pound around to make a foward’s life difficult.

  30. Supsam says:

    I nominate Darius Barnes. Automatic starter and was drafted 3rd round (40th overall)

  31. dantheblue says:

    that Dallas game was an anomoly. Just like the Oakland Raiders winning a game on Sundays, EVERY dog has its day once in a while.

  32. Peretz48 says:

    Gonzalez has improved steadily from the beginning of the season until now. His overall body of work is good, mixed in with the occasional lapse (mostly at the beginning of the season). I think he’s deserving of the ROY award. That said, it’s still a long stretch from ROY to USMNT member. Perhaps Bradley will call him into camp next year just to see how he’s progressing. However, he’s nowhere near being a candidate for ’10. In addition to his lack of experience, his lack of pace concerns me, not just for now but down the road in ’14 and beyond.

  33. angler23 says:

    I wouldn’t be so sure that he doesn’t get a call-up in January. I’ve seen Bob Bradley at every Galaxy home game (except for the ones on international dates) and I would be willing to bet that he’s seen enough to want to get the kid into camp. The starters in Europe won’t come into the January camp, so it could open up a place for him.

  34. Michael F. - SBI Mafia Original says:

    Ives, does Omar Gonzalez get a look by Bradley? Especially considering how thin we are now at that position? Would also like to see Marshall and Pontius.

  35. frank says:

    yes, hes a dual national (USA/Mex)-making it more essential that he gets capped now…

    Mexico doesn’t have tall defenders, so he would be a real catch for them…

  36. Alex G says:

    Congrats to O.G., I really think he should get a look at the Nats, get capped and find a spot in the team, hes a great defender, BB needs to step up to the plate and call him before its too late…

  37. Justin O says:

    Wow! Watch what you say around Angry Ceez!

  38. marttha c says:

    He is taller, but hes too slow for the international game.

    Hes a Mexican-American Jim Curtin

  39. Hush says:

    Time to get rid of Conrad & Marshall for good! :)

    Congrats to Omar! I would love to see him in the middle with he gooch.

    Backline: Dolo-Onyewu-Gonzalez-castillo. Yeah boooy!!

  40. Supsam says:

    yea i agree that he should get called into the Jan. camp. I was just referring to him actually getting “capped” I doubt he will get capped (not referring to the FIFA official cap, just capped) before the world cup

  41. Supsam says:

    alot of people say the same thing about Gooch and look where he has gotten us and no, im not referring to the Mexican-American part :]

  42. Daniel says:

    I think it is being proven now that Gooch cant play at that level. Every time he plays he causes a goal. I think he might get better but no guarantees.

  43. Leonardo says:

    dude to play with Beckham AND Donovan in your rookie season AND make it to the playoffs – WOW! that is awesome. he must be stoked!

  44. CrispyST3 says:

    Haha, that’s wassup

    speak truth

  45. CrispyST3 says:

    Preach IVES

  46. CrispyST3 says:

    I feel you on that, then it’ll be more than just MLS All-Star game, it could be an All Star weekend, like in the NBA, Rookie’s vs Sophomores, then the All-star game which is West vs. East haha. or it doesnt have to be Rookie’s vs Sophomores it culd be, west rookies vs east rookies, but i agree that would be dope

  47. Ted in MN says:

    Bradley gets to play matchmaker till the World Cup
    LB: Bornstein, Castillo, worst case scenario Bocanegra (means that Bornstein and Castillo both went belly up)
    Front runner has to be Bornstein after 3 impressive qualifers in a row
    CB: Boca, Gooch, Demerit, Gonzalez, Marshall, Conrad,(probably another 4-5 people who I can’t think of off the top of my head) Front runner probs would be Boca and Demerit with Marshall until Demerit is healthy
    RB: Spector, Dulo frontrunner Dulo.
    That would be my guess

  48. Ted in MN says:

    Gooch proved he could play at the international level in the Confed cup, specifically against Spain. He isn’t seeing playing time in Milan; that is the problem. He needs a loan out once he is healthy again to get back in form.

  49. Pancho Miguel Morales de Conejo says:

    Gooch can’t play at the International level? If that is a true statement, we should just close down soccer at this point in the U.S. and move on to tiddlywinks.

    Gooch, for all his faults, is the best we have. The best. You can say he is ‘too slow’, though interestingly professional scouts thought he was not too slow for AC Milan, one of the biggest clubs in the world. So, he didn’t start immediately then got hurt…that is just not that unusual in football. You can find many, many, many examples of biding your time until you break through.

    Is he a ‘World Class” CB? maybe not, but most certainly he is the best we have.

  50. David says:

    I hope Mexico calls him up!

  51. Ceez says:

    Nah, not really. Just don’t make dumb comments like that.