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Omar Gonzalez, the United States' 25-year-old defender, has been the target of questions regarding his ability to perform with the National Team. Injuries before the Cup claimed his starting role, if it was his to begin with, and allowed for Geoff Cameron to find himself starting in Brazil.
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RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 26:  Omar Gonzalez of the United States reacts after being defeated by Germ...

Omar Gonzalez, the United States' 25-year-old defender, has been the target of questions regarding his ability to perform with the National Team.  Injuries before the Cup claimed his starting role, if it was his to begin with, and allowed for Geoff Cameron to find himself starting in Brazil.

Cameron's World Cup outing has been average at best.  He was inattentive in the USA match against Portugal, as he made mistakes that led to both Portugal's goals, including their equalizer.  In lieu of Cameron's mistakes, Gonzalez was given the start with Germany, surpassing the performance given by Cameron.  Gonzalez helped hold to only one goal.  

“My reaction was that I am ready. I was working hard to make sure that I was ready in case something happened, and circumstances changed so that I was going to get the start," said Gonzalez. "I guess playing in the last dying minutes of the Portugal game kind of helped in just getting my feet wet, getting into a match and a World Cup, but it was totally different circumstances: being the last game of the group stage and being so huge for us to get through to the next round. I was just focused on making little plays at a time and if I mess up, I move on and focus on the next play. I just wanted to have a good showing and do anything I could to help our team get through.”

Whether it was a punishment for Cameron, or just a legitimate chance for Gonzalez to prove his worth, he conceded no goals, though in the first 10 minutes of the match against Germany, Gonzalez whiffed at a ball letting it go through his legs.  Fortunately, it did not turn into a goal against the Americans.  The rest of his game proved to be fairly solid, minimizing any damage that the US could have incurred.

“Every player, I think, goes through their head at some point in their career and for me, not playing much in any of the lead-in games and being on the bench for the first two games, obviously you can get down on yourself," said Gonzalez. "But, the good thing is that I have good people around me who help me stay positive. My main thing this whole time has been to be a good teammate. Take the focus away from myself and do anything I could to get ready for my teammates, to help them at practice and that really helped me stay positive and just focus and take attention away from myself, so I never really got down too much.”

If anything, Gonzalez could be considered to start against the Belgians on Tuesday after his near flawless start against Germany.  Except for the small blemish at the start of the match versus the Germans, his start was above the par that Cameron had set against Portugal.  Is it enough to earn him another start?  He was one of the question marks when the 23-man squad was named, as people wondered if he could cut it with US's national team.

Comparing his start to that of Cameron's performance, he may be the better starter moving forward, if he can maintain a consistent performance.  “I do not know when to expect our lineup," admitted Gonzalez. "It has varied during the past, but pretty much the day before the game or the day of the game we get the lineup. I am not looking too far into the future right now. Right now, I am thinking that I have to stay in the present and Tuesday is a few days away so we still have a couple days more to prepare.  So my focus right now is just getting out there at practice and getting some good work in.”

The decision between Cameron and Gonzalez may come down to the wire before Tuesday's match against Belgium.  If Gonzalez can play with the form he was able to on Sunday, there's no reason he shouldn't be presented with the chance to, yet again, start in the center back position.  The American's game against Germany may have been a starting point for Gonzalez in earning his starting role back from Cameron, and to do it on the world's biggest stage has to be a big confidence booster for the young Galaxy defender.

“Yeah, it is pretty funny," said Gonzalez when asked about his first experience with the World Cup. "I keep telling myself I am here playing at this World Cup in Brazil and it is an unbelievable experience, but I do not think it is really going to set in until a few weeks after I am back home and have time to really sit down and think about this amazing experience.”

 
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