ESPN has a new soccer analyst, and he’ll be a familiar face to fans of U.S. soccer. That would be striker Herculez Gomez, who announced Tuesday that he was retiring from professional soccer at 34 and joining ESPN. Gomez recorded six goals in 24 appearances for the U.S. national team from 2007 to 2013, including three during the 2010 World Cup, and he spent 17 years playing professionally in Mexico and the U.S. and won MLS Cup championships with the Los Angeles Galaxy (2002 and 2005) and the Seattle Sounders (2016). Here’s more from ESPN’s release on Gomez’s new role:
Gómez will primarily serve as a pundit on ESPN FC, ESPN’s daily soccer news, highlights and information program, as well as a studio analyst for the network’s coverage of Major League Soccer, U.S. Men’s National Team, and other international soccer competitions. On ESPN Deportes, he will appear on signature soccer studio programs Fuera de Juego and Futbol Picante.
…“We are thrilled to welcome Herc to ESPN after his world-class career and look forward to his fresh, off-the-field insight on MLS, Liga MX, and the US Men’s National team for our English-and Spanish-language shows,” said Amy Rosenfeld, ESPN senior coordinating producer. “He is a tremendous addition and represents another strong voice on our soccer content team.”
…“I am excited and tremendously honored for this opportunity to join the exceptional ESPN soccer content team. I hope to transfer the qualities that made me successful on the field to my new team and the next phase of my career,” said Gomez. “My new role as a studio analyst will keep me involved in the sport I love, a sport that has provided me with so many great memories and lasting friendships.”
The bilingual Gomez will be working for both ESPN and ESPN Deportes, and that kind of versatility can be highly valuable. He also brings a lot of different levels of experience to the network, from his playing career in the Mexican first and second divisions and a wide variety of U.S. leagues (including the USL, the Major Indoor Football League and MLS) and his stints with the U.S. national team. He has some television experience as well, as he worked on Fox’s Copa America Centenario broadcasts last year (despite being an active member of the Sounders), and his work there was generally praised.
So far at least, Gomez seems to have been able to offer criticisms of former teammates and coaches when necessary without stepping into constant criticisms of people he doesn’t like, and he’s been able to offer praise when it’s warranted and not when it isn’t. Those are tough lines to walk, and ones that many newer players-turned-analysts frequently struggle with, but during his tenure at Fox, Gomez did a pretty good job of on both fronts. If he can keep that up while at ESPN, he could be a very nice addition to their soccer coverage.