ARLINGTON, Texas — Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez was born in Dallas but he never set foot in Cowboys Stadium, the palatial $1.3-billion home of the Dallas Cowboys, until Tuesday when he arrived with the rest of the U.S. national soccer team to check out the place ahead of Wednesday's Gold Cup semifinal with Honduras.
Suffice it to say Gonzalez was impressed.
But there will be more to the homecoming than a tour of the stadium. Gonzalez will be playing Wednesday in front of countless friends and family members who have never seen him in a U.S. national team jersey.
And when we say "countless friends and family members" that's not just a figure of speech. Even Gonzalez has lost track.
"I grew up here," he said. "You want me to count them for you?"
After playing in June's World Cup qualifiers, Gonzalez, along with many regulars, was left off the U.S. roster for the Gold Cup, giving Coach Juergen Klinsmann a chance to audition a new group of players. But when teams were allowed to call up four new players after the group stage, Gonzalez was summoned for the semifinals.
"I always knew that it was a maybe," Gonzalez said. "And when I did get the call I was just really happy. It didn't take me by total surprise."
But if Wednesday's game will mark Gonzalez's first at Cowboys Stadium, it won't mark his first game in a stadium the Cowboys called home. As a teen Gonzalez played a high school football game at Texas Stadium, the Cowboys' former field.
He was, predictably, the team's kicker.
"Representing the U.S. here is going to be fantastic," he said. "I'm just here willing to do anything to get the win.
"To be able to play here, in this new stadium, with the national team, is going to be extremely special."