LAS VEGAS - Herculez Gomez didn't train on Saturday, a
normal precaution after starting against Puebla in Mexican
league play Friday night, but there was nothing that could
have kept him off the field Sunday evening in front of
almost 30,000 of his fellow Las Vegans.
With Real Madrid in town for the second stop of their North
American tour, Gomez lived out what could only be described
as a dream, starting and playing 74 minutes against the
Spanish champions in front of a large contingent of his
family and friends in the city in which he was raised.
"It was amazing," Gomez said following Santos' 2-1 defeat.
"It's always good to come back home and [to] come back
under these circumstances is extremely special. Not
everybody gets this chance."
Perhaps the only thing that could have made it better was a
goal, which would have been fitting considering Gomez's
scoring record the past few years and his uncanny timing
and knack for the dramatic.
WATCH: Gomez puts chance wide of net
Alas, that part of the fairytale wasn't to be, leaving
Gomez to lean on the dogma that got him through some lean
times in Major League Soccer before jump-starting his
career in Mexico.
"[It's] part of the game, part of being a forward," he
said. "You've got to keep going. You've got to keep
plugging away and sooner or later that ball will go in.
That's always been my motto."
All things considered, Gomez wasn't in the mood to nitpick.
Nor should he have been. Regardless of the result, this was
a night to remember, one in which he thought Santos
acquitted themselves well despite succumbing to a bizarre
game-winner that deflected off Sami Khedira's face.
Gomez played as a lone forward for manager Benjamín
Galindo, with Darwin Quintero and Cristian Suárez providing
service on the flanks and Daniel Ludueña directing traffic
in the center of the park. In between his two chances on
goal - an attempt to punish Iker Casillas for wandering off
his line and a left-footed shot pulled wide - Gomez forced
Madrid into foul after foul, seven in all.
He also got a bit of payback after being on the receiving
end of a yellow-card tackle by Esteban Granero in the first
half, bowling over Pepe in the 66th minute to earn his own
"That's my position. When you play that No. 9 role by
yourself, you're going to do a lot of dirty work," Gomez
said. "You're going to take a lot of fouls. That's part of
holding the ball up. I'm not that big of a guy, but I'd
like to think I can do my job. It comes with the
As did the love he received from him home crowd, which was
was peppered with the green and white of Los
Guerreros and rewarded the American international with
a warm reception during introductions and throughout the
"The crowd was good, the atmosphere was fun and our
opponent was very good," Gomez said. "But I think we came
away show the crowd and showing them some good things as