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Missing in Action: Where has Herculez Gomez Been?

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With only 20 minutes player in the last four matches, and only four appearances all season, Toronto's surprise move of the summer has been missing in action.

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

There must be some kind of Bermuda triangle in the BMO Field dressing rooms, because players who join Toronto FC have a tendency to disappear with a trace.

Last year it was Bright Dike who was sucked into the nether, re-appearing this year only to be waived by the club. He hasn't surfaced since.

Lately it has been a more surprising player who has been notably missing from the Toronto FC 11, especially considering how recently he was brought into the team.

Labeled Toronto's surprise move of the summer, 33-year-old Herculez Gomez has only played 113 minutes since early August when he was acquired.

Yesterday's game against the Chicago Fire was another example of how far down the depth chart he appears to have fallen. With the club tied in a crucial match into the 79th minute, Gomez was not in any of the three substitutions Greg Vanney made.

To his credit, Vanney's side got the result so it is hard to criticize or even question the moves he made. It was surprising nonetheless.

The week before Gomez was once again unused it the club's 3-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids, albeit a game Toronto wrapped up before halftime. He only saw 7 minutes in a 2-0 loss to New York City and 13 minutes in a 3-1 loss to New England.

From an economic standpoint, 20 minutes in 4 crucial games for a player who makes a reported $261,000 just doesn't make much sense. This is especially true when that money could have been spent elsewhere, like on a fullback.

Toronto FC already have Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore up front, and their salaries and performances command that they start. Behind them both Luke Moore and Robbie Findley have been solid at times this season.

It's an odd situation: should Greg Vanney be blamed for not playing the player? On the other hand, maybe Tim Bezbatchenko should have brought in a player that better addressed one of the club's needs.

Ultimately, Gomez has turned into 2015's edition of Dwayne De Rosario: a veteran attacker with a strong MLS resume who has shown some flashes of talent but only been given limited opportunity.

Unlike De Rosario, however, he isn't a celebrated Canadian international, there have been no "we want Gomez" chants audible at BMO Field this year when he hasn't been playing. He hasn't been getting the token minutes that De Ro seemed to earn just to appease the fans.

The positive is that in the dressing room he appears to be bringing some much needed leadership to the team. When Damien Perquis lost his cool last weekend at a local reporter, a well timed joke from Gomez helped to defuse the situation.

He also provides something that isn't readily available on a squad largely made up of MLS outsiders: playoff experience. He won the MLS Cup in 2005 with the LA Galaxy, something only Robbie Findley has done in the Toronto dressing room.

The story isn't over, Toronto FC still have four remaining regular season games and presumably playoffs beyond that. Gomez still has time to make an impact and prove to everyone that his best days are not necessarily behind him.

But his quest to get the recognition he deserves, just like De Rosario's promise to finish his unfinished business in Toronto, is going to need a little more playing time in order to come to fruition.