July 23, 2019 - 4:22 pm
Midfielder Jesus Gonzalez scored his first goal for the Lights FC in the United Soccer League Championship against LA Galaxy II that ended in a 2-2 tie July 4 at Cashman Field.
Here’s the significance of that goal: Eight months ago, Gonzalez couldn’t walk after being involved in a car accident in which the left side of his body was run over.
“I really don’t remember too much of the accident,” the 27-year-old said. “I know that I suffered a Grade 3 (severe) concussion, and I do somewhat remember passing out twice during the accident.
“Some door was holding onto my arm and dragged me with the car. I tried to jump off it and landed on the ground. Apparently, the tire ran over my left side — my left foot.”
He awoke to a bystander offering aid as he lie in the middle of the street.
Gonzalez was bedridden for 2½ months. He then used a wheelchair, followed by a walker and finally crutches.
“It was just one of those tough two months in my life, because I knew before the accident I was about to sign with the team,” Gonzalez said. “Then the accident happened, and my contract was taken away.”
The Pasadena, California, native didn’t touch a soccer ball for 3½ months. He went into the preseason overweight and unfit but able to walk.
Gonzalez credited Lights coach Eric Wynalda for giving him the opportunity and being there for him.
“If it wasn’t for Eric, I believe I would have been done with soccer and just kind of gave up on everything after the whole incident,” Gonzalez said.
Wynalda and Gonzalez have been together since 2012 and share a special relationship. Wynalda believed in him when several teams didn’t because of his non-American style of play.
“Once Eric brought me in, he switched me to a whole new world that I’ve never played in my life,” Gonzalez said.
Wynalda said Gonzalez has some special attributes that make him a unique player. He said Gonzalez’s left foot is one of the best he has seen.
“We’ve just had a connection,” Wynalda said. “He’s been through a lot in his life, and whether I’ve been coaching or not, I’ve taken an interest in his life.”
When Wynalda heard the news about the car accident, he said, “My immediate reaction was my heart sank.”
Fast forward to July. Gonzalez made an epic recovery and drilled a goal with a healthy left foot.
“I had to walk away and have a moment because I was so proud of him,” Wynalda said.
“To score a goal like that was a wonderful moment for him and emotional for me as well. But I can’t imagine what he was thinking. I think the best part was the way his teammates celebrated with him, and you could see it was just a moment of pure joy.”
— Las Vegas Lights FC (@lvlightsfc) July 5, 2019
Contact Jonathan Eskin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who: Lights (6-7-5) at Tacoma Defiance (2-12-5)
What: United League Soccer match
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Cheney Stadium, Tacoma, Wash.
TV: ESPN Plus (streaming)
Radio: Spanish only, KENO-AM (1460)