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MLS Second Half Preview: Is Omar Gonzalez The Difference Maker?

At the season's halfway mark, the LA Galaxy (7-10-2) are in fifth place in the Western Conference and are 17 points behind the first place San Jose Earthquakes (11-4-4). Can the Galaxy move up the standings and make a run for one of the top seeds in this year's MLS Cup?

According to MLS reporter Brian Straus of the Sporting News, Omar Gonzalez might be the key piece in the Galaxy's second half run. Gonzalez tore his ACL in January and saw his first official action with the Galaxy earlier in July.

The tall defender was essential in the Galaxy's eventual MLS Cup win in 2011. If he can get back to 100%, the Galaxy might be a legitimate threat to repeat as champions.

Here's what Straus said about Gonzalez in his MLS second half preview:

Gonzalez, 23, played 45 minutes on July 4 and is slowly returning to fitness. L.A. won last year thanks to an airtight defense that gave Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Robbie Keane (not to mention the effervescent Mike Magee) time to make that one perfect play. Each could play better and L.A.'s problems might run deeper, but if Gonzalez's return sets off a positive chain reaction the Western Conference race could get even tighter.

For more on news and analysis on Gonzalez and the Galaxy, check out LAG Confidential.