TAMPA - Herculez Gomez has waited over two years for his opportunity to start for the United States men's national team. So forgive him if he doesn't want to relinquish his spot anytime soon.
There is a tight competition for the lone striker spot in U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. For the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala, Gomez, Jozy Altidore, Terrance Boyd and Chris Wondolowski are all battling for playing time.
"I know it won't be easy to keep that spot but that's my ultimate goal," Gomez told Goal.com after starting in friendlies against Brazil and Canada. "I want to keep building on this."
Altidore is the presumed starter but both Boyd and Gomez have impressed in their starts. All of the strikers on the roster are in relatively good form.
"Everyone wants to play," said Gomez. "We're all friends and we're all nice guys but in the end of the day only one of us is probably going to play."
Gomez turned 30 this year and with several promising options - including Juan Agudelo and Kenny Cooper - vying for their chances, his odds of vying for a second World Cup appearance aren't the best. Yet, the Oxnard, Calif., native doesn't allow himself to be ruled out.
Gomez is coming off of a strong season for Santos Laguna in Mexico's top flight, scoring 11 goals in 12 appearances. Despite being away from the national team since the 2010 World Cup, Gomez was determined to keep on fighting.
"You definitely have to be on your toes and be sharp because at any given moment, the next guy can step up," Gomez said.
Gomez promises that his performances will keep on improving as he adjusts to his teammates. While he knows a lot of guys from traveling to South Africa two years ago, he admits that the chemistry isn't completely there yet.
"I'm very new to this," Gomez explains. "I know their tendencies but as far as games go, there's still a lot of time that we haven't spent together."
"It's a work in progress and I'm very excited to keep working," he added.
Whether or not Gomez starts in this Friday's World Cup qualifier, he hopes to at least contribute in some shape or form. In Klinsmann's first non-friendly match, Gomez has the ironic situation of never playing in a qualifying match despite playing in both the World Cup and the Copa America. He wants that to change.
"I dont have a lot of caps but if you look at my resume on paper, it looks amazing," Gomez said jokingly. "I'm excited for whatever position or role they have for me."