The LA Kings and the LA Galaxy have a lot in common.
Both are owned by AEG, both play in front of loud and supportive local crowds, and both have enjoyed a lot of championship success the past couple of seasons.
One of that club’s standout defensemen is Omar Gonzalez, who has played for the Galaxy since 2009. The Dallas, Texas-born Gonzalez -- who has also represented the U.S. at several high-profile international tournaments -- was at a recent Kings home game, and took time to answer these questions for LAKings.com:
Question: You participated in a special event at STAPLES Center before a recent Kings game. Can you tell us about that?
Omar Gonzalez: “I was a part of StubHub’s ‘let your fan out’ competition right before the Kings game. The point of this competition was to find LA’s biggest sports fan.”
Question: When you are looking for a rabid fan, what characteristics do you typically look for?
Omar Gonzalez: “I typically look for how energetic and creative he or she is with their chants, if they’re dressed up supporting their team, and just the all-around visual of cheering on their favorite team. After all, that’s the most important part so they have to be really energetic for me.”
Question: Soccer fans are known to be some of the most passionate in the world. Why is that?
Omar Gonzalez: “Soccer fans are the most passionate in the world because starting at a young age they are thrown into the mix. They’re taken to games with their families or they’re watching games on TV. It’s so easy to start a [soccer] game anywhere you are. Just make anything into two goals and you’re playing. From that point on you’re stuck with the game. It’s a part of your life and it’s easy to cheer on your favorite team. Around the world, soccer is a part of your bloodline. You grow up and you’re instantly a fan of a certain team and you’re cheering them on from a young age so that’s what makes fans around the world most passionate.”
Question: Do you have a sense that hockey fans are just as passionate about their game as soccer fans are about their game?
Omar Gonzalez: “Hockey fans are just as passionate about hockey as we are about soccer. You can be passionate about pretty much anything. It’s about how much you want to put into it and from what I’ve seen as certain Kings games that I’ve been to the fans have been amazing.”
Question: How many Kings games have you been to over the years?
Omar Gonzalez: “Over the past seven years I’ve been to quite a few Kings games. I don’t really know the exact number but what I do know is that they keep on bringing me back. Every time I go I have a great time. I’ve gotten to drop the puck at a game before too. It’s just always an amazing time. They’re a very good team and they keep on winning and that’s the best is going to a live game where your team wins.”
Question: What do you admire the most about our athletes?
Omar Gonzalez: “They always give it 110 percent on the ice from what I’ve seen. They’re always getting after it. When I see them around town in Manhattan Beach they are always friendly. They like enjoying themselves and I appreciate that. As hard as they work on the ice they do the same thing having a lot of fun off the ice and I love that about them. Another thing that I appreciate about them is that they all live in the South Bay and have a really family-oriented team. I really enjoy that.”
Question: Do you think the footwork in hockey and soccer is similar?
Omar Gonzalez: “I don’t know if the footwork is that similar since they’re in skates and we’re just in shoes. It’s a little bit different but I have seen their warm up routine where they’re juggling the [soccer] ball and keeping the ball up so I do see that they have a little bit of soccer skill as well. The cool thing is that the soccer guys enjoy the hockey team and the hockey team enjoys the soccer team and it’s a great relationship we have with them. Plus, we’ve been to the White House together twice with them and hopefully we can get back there.”
Question: How do you view the two sports from a cardio standpoint?
Omar Gonzalez: “They are both intense. Of course, in soccer you have to go 90 minutes and you may not get subbed where as in hockey you have to go all out for as long as you can and you can go in shifts so every time you’re in there you go 110 percent knowing that you will have a rest coming up pretty quickly. Those are the biggest differences.”
Question: Who on the Galaxy this year would make the best hockey player and who would make the worst, and why?
Omar Gonzalez: “The best hockey player on the Galaxy would have to be Brian Rowe. He’s a keeper. If [Jonathan] Quick went down, you could throw Brian Rowe in there and he’d be okay at stopping some shots. Maybe they’d score three or four before he actually got a hang of it but I think he’d actually do pretty well. The worst hockey player on the Galaxy would have to be A.J. DeLaGarza. He’s small and I don’t know if he’s ever put on a pair of skates in his life. I would love to see him get in a fight. He also hates being cold so those are just a few reasons and I could keep on going on and on. But I won’t.”
Question: After such an incredible run in recent years, what do you think it will take for the Galaxy to get back to being championship contenders in the immediate future?
Omar Gonzalez: “We need a more consistent year from our team. There’s no questioning that the effort isn’t always there. It’s just about bringing it every single game. We need to do what the Kings’ players have done and that’s become a family again and hangout outside of the field whenever we get the chance. That builds a lot of comradery. If we do that we will definitely get back to another MLS Cup, hoisting another trophy. It will be a better 2016, that’s for sure.”
Special thanks – LA Galaxy Communications Department
By: Evan Kantor