After flirting with several MLS teams, Herculez Gomez ended up with Club Tijuana during the recent offseason.
“I'm not living anywhere right now,” Gomez said. “There's still plenty of time to figure that out.”
The next month or so will resolve issues like which side of the U.S.-Mexican border to live on. The Xolos have embraced the border culture, with plenty of their players – and fans – making the trek south from San Diego consistently.
Gomez, a U.S. international who has played in Mexico since 2010, fits the club's ethos. He also returns to a home of sorts. The forward was born in Oxnard, Calif. (though he grew up in Las Vegas) and had two stints playing in San Diego, the second with an indoor team, before joining MLS.
Tijuana traded away leading scorer Duviar Riascos and brought in Gomez during the recent Liga MX draft.
“I think it was mutual that we both wanted to make this work,” Gomez said. “It went from being something that was just like, 'Hey, that'd be nice' to something that was a lot more tangible to something that was, 'This is where I want to be.' I'm happy and very excited that they showed the confidence in me.”
Two years ago, Tijuana played in the second division. Seven years ago it didn't exist. But the club is a desirable destination now. It won the 2012 Apertura and reached the Copa Libertadores quarterfinal this year. Owner Jorge Hank keeps adding capacity and amenities to the stadium.
“Tijuana is the total package,” Gomez said. “If you know the setup, you know what I'm talking about.”
Gomez most recently spent a year and a half with Santos Laguna. There he scored nine goals in the CONCACAF Champions League, reaching the final twice in a row, and became the first player to win an MLS Cup and Liga MX crown.
His contract would have expired during the 2014 World Cup. Santos chose to dish Gomez rather than lose him for free.
“I had a year left in my contract and it's not appealing to have a player who's a free agent during the World Cup year, during that summer actually,” Gomez said. “They offered me an extension; it wasn't something that I was willing to do. So it's just business. That's the way it is.
“I understand it. Luckily, I found a home.”
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