Puebla stint rejuvenated striker.Herculez Gomez is well aware that his darkhorse campaign for a spot on the World Cup is an unexpected one.
"It's pretty crazy," said the forward after he received the news that he'd made the 30 player list.
Despite tying for the scoring title in Mexico, Gomez was unsure that his good form would be rewarded with a chance for the USA team.
"There's been a lot of talk, but I still didn't expect it," Gomez said. "I'm very honored and priveleged and I know I'm in a position where plenty of players would love to be. I'm grateful for that."
Coincidentally, the person who informed Gomez that he'd made the roster was Martin Vazquez. The current Chivas USA coach combined experiences in Mexico and the United States as a key part of his professional career. In fact, Vazquez earned international caps for both countries.
Since the current season in Mexico ended, Gomez had been training in Los Angeles, where the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA play.
"Martin pulled me aside," Gomez described, explaining the moment he found out the good news. "He said, 'Congratulations', and I said, 'Thanks' and went back to work."
Of course, the next goal of making the 23-man roster for the World Cup is still daunting.
"I have to keep doing what I've been doing," Gomez believed. "There's a reason I was called and I can't shy away from that. I can't change who I am. I have to do my best and hopefully good things will happen. I've always had a good work ethic, so hopefully the rest will come together."
Gomez believed his time in Mexico had been invaluable to his improvement as a player.
"My speed of thought is faster," Gomez described. "It was a great experience. Confidence-wise, it helped me a lot."
His former Galaxy teammate, Landon Donovan, confirmed that Gomez is at his best when his self-belief is high.
"Herc has always been a player who has done well when he's confident," Donovan told Goal.com. "I can tell now that he's very confident and he seems very content in his life. I think he's content in his life and it seems like he's found a good fit in Mexico."
Gomez's scoring streak while at Puebla shocked a lot of people partly because he hadn't been scoring much in MLS before his move to Mexico, though this was due partly to a forced move to midfielder and injury problems.
"Sometimes it doesn't hurt to be lucky," Gomez said of his scoring groove. "The next thing I know, you just feel different. You have more of a sense for the game."
Donovan, for one, believed in the power of a player in the scoring zone.
"I'm always for bringing guys who are in form to training camps, qualifiers, big tournaments. Guys who are in form and playing are always the best bet. Herc is a guy, as everyone has seen over the last six months - he can change the game in a heartbeat. That's very valuable in a tournament as big as the WOrld Cup. You need to make plays. He's shown that he can do that."
Gomez believed he might fill a unique niche in the USA squad.
"Right now, either you're a hold up player, or you're a speedy guy and I think I'm neither. Hopefully, that works to my advantage. There are a lot of things out of my control. The only thing I can do is control when I'm on the field."
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