USA's Omar Gonzalez exposes all

Finlay Mackay

Omar talked with reporter Morty Ain about showing off his body, recovering from ACL surgery and getting ready for the World Cup:

Playing the saxophone in red underwear is definitely the most risqué thing I'd ever done. I was at Thanksgiving dinner at my wife's parents' house and, spur of the moment, I brought along a saxophone because I wanted to see if I could still play. Mind you, that was during the offseason. I'm definitely more excited about showing off my body now.

Trust me, people can't push me around. I'm 6-5 and there's a lot of mass here, so if I'm running full speed and I'm going shoulder to shoulder with someone, I'm going to end up winning most of those battles.

I don't know if you can prepare yourself [to play in the World Cup]. You'll see me out there during warm-ups, right before we go into possession -- I take a moment to lay down on the field and close my eyes and take some deep breaths. Just remind myself of why I'm there.

People say [soccer players] are soft. I beg to differ. You go to ground a lot and you can get into some bad tackles. If it's a hard-fought battle, you aren't walking away unscathed. It's frustrating that the physicality of this sport isn't respected as much as maybe other sports.

It's a grueling 90 minutes. Preparing for the World Cup, I've been doing a lot of extra workouts on my own. I see now that I'm definitely getting a lot fitter and I'm able to get through 90 minutes where I feel that I'm focused the entire time. I'm just sharper.

I don't really care how much you can lift in the gym. I think it's funny that there are a lot of really buff guys out there. What is all that for? They are just strong for no reason. For me, I have to be strong for my sport, so I can compete at the highest level. I may not have been the biggest, but when it came down to playing, I shut people up.

If I get too muscular, I won't be able to move as well. I like being a little smaller up top and a bit more agile for my height. I have to be able to change direction a lot. Maybe I'll bulk up when I'm done with soccer, but I'll probably just end up getting fatter and enjoying my downtime.

I'm horrible at pullups. I'm probably only up to five now.

I don't have my shirt off whenever possible. I'm not one to really show myself off like that.

I've done very well in my career if there's a tough task ahead. When the time comes, I'm always able to perform. Even when I had a bad game for my first qualifying experience for the national team and the media was all over me, I just came out and did well.

I feel for the place-kickers in the NFL. I was pretty good and had some scholarship offers from colleges, but my love was soccer. I could definitely hit the ball pretty far, but I wasn't the best football player. I just wanted to kick the ball and stay away from as much contact as possible. I didn't want to hurt my soccer career.

I surround myself with good people. It gets to a point where things are going really well, and I'll stop listening to other people, and I think that I'm always right. That's when you have to have those people to tell you what's up. One of the mental weaknesses for me would be my head gets too big.

I have a scar from my appendix surgery, and it looks like I have two belly buttons. Sometimes I'll say that I got stabbed or I got shot.

I always seem to come back stronger. I came back in five and a half months from my ACL injury. That's pretty fast, I think, and I feel 100 percent. A lot of people talk about other athletes coming back fast from injury, but I never hear my name called out there.

A coach of mine when I was younger always said, "Make sure it's the other guy's mom crying and not yours."

My mom volunteered to be a part of the World Cup in '94. She just helped out around the stadium, and I was able to go with her and watch the game. It was an amazing experience. I'm pretty sure that's what sparked me to become a professional soccer player and to one day play in a World Cup.

Hopefully some kid will be mimicking us one day.

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