Fond farewell to Christian Gomez
Christian Gomez, one of D.C. United’s all-time greats, recently signed with Miami FC of the NASL. Gomez’s MLS career is over…for now. There is still a chance that he could re-surface in MLS, but Gomez is not in United’s plans. No matter how his career winds down, D.C. United fans will never forget the greatness of C. Gomez.
On August 21, 2004, D.C. United was on the road playing the Columbus Crew. D.C. was trailing 2-1 in the 71st minute when Peter Nowak made a substitution. Earnie Stewart was replaced in the lineup by Christian Gomez. That was the first time Gomez stepped on the field for United, and no one could have possibly anticipated the impact that he would have on the field, the season, or the franchise as a whole. D.C. ended up tying that match 2-2.
Gomez started the remaining eight games of the season after his debut off the bench, and in his nine matches he scored four goals as the team went 5-2-2 to complete the season. Gomez was not the only reason that the team went on that remarkable run to end the 2004 season as MLS Cup Champions, but it could never have happened without him. Never.
Of the dozens of world class players that have worn the D.C. United jersey, Christian Gomez was among the most passionate for the club. No United fan can ever forget the image of Christian in the stands at Giants Stadium, banging the drum with the supporters to encourage his teammates while serving a one-game suspension. There were countless times that Christian kissed the badge after scoring a goal to remind the fans that he loved the team as much as they do. Few players have energized RFK Stadium the same way that Christian did when yelling at the crowd and pumping his fist with the joyous fury that can only be caused by a beautiful goal.
Like most great players, Gomez was at his best when the games mattered most. Christian’s performances in international competitions are the best in the history of MLS. He scored ten goals for D.C. United in the variety of international competitions, but two classic moments stick out. In 2005, Gomez scored two goals on the road to take the aggregate lead over Católica of Chile. Then last summer, he scored on a free kick in San Salvador to equalize against LA Firpo, and later made the decisive penalty kick in the shootout to send D.C. United into group play of the 2009 Champions League. Domestically, Gomez scored three of the last four goals for DC United in the MLS Playoffs. Yet his greatest on the field moment will always be the third goal in the epic 2004 Eastern Conference Final against New England.
Excellence, commitment, heart, desire, and passion, are all characteristics of Christian Gomez, but they also represent the attitude and style of D.C. United, which is why the two may have been such an ideal fit. Seldom does a player bring the blend of skill, drive, and emotion to a club as Christian Gomez did to the Black-and-Red and, for those reasons, he will forever be a D.C. United legend.