Punching Patriot! Herc Thumps Player for Scything Fellow Yank Castillo
Herculez Gomez is an American patriot; he knows he already missed the bus to Brazil but the veteran is still very much involved and committed to the USMNT. He demonstrated so on Friday night when he defended Edgar Castillo after Tijuana's left-back fell victim to a threatening slide tackle. Castillo of course, is still in the mix to make the cut in Jurgen Klinsmann's 23-man World Cup roster and an injury for him would be devastating right now.
The clock was ticking for Puebla at the Caliente Stadium, as the visitors were down a goal with minutes to go in the game. Former Tijuana midfielder, Francisco Torres, was booked for knocking down Fidel Martinez around the 40th minute mark and Puebla's midfielder showed the referee how unhappy he was with the call, throwing all types of nasty hand gestures at him. Still heated from the call, minutes later Torres lost his head completely and slid violently to clip Castillo from behind.
The referee sent Torres off without hesitation, but that didn't satisfy Castillo's teammate Herculez Gomez. Gomez reacted instinctively to the foul and rushed towards Francisco Torres to then start his own Battle of Puebla*. The rest of the players on the pitch followed until the brawl was eventually split by the few players who kept their cool.
Although no one should be praised for having a violent reaction regardless of the situation, Gomez sure sent a clear message about his allegiance to the USMNT. "No one is to mess with my homeboys," is what Gomez appeared to say with his actions. After the fight had been broken up, fellow compatriots Gomez and Michael Orozco stared at each other from a distance, and smiled, acknowledging that his reaction was strictly patriotic.
DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco were the two other USMNT players on the field besides Castillo at the time. Ironically, Beasley and Castillo are both candidates to occupy the USMNT's left-back position in Brazil.
*The Battle of Puebla, better known as "Cinco de Mayo" in the United States, is celebrated as the date Mexico defeated the French army to end six years of military and political intervention by the European nation in Mexican territory.