Jogo’s FC Dallas first team debut against Xolos…one year later

It is with mixed feelings that we write this post. On one hand, we know some FCD players and staff are undergoing a challenging (physically and mentally) phase in their careers. Our thoughts and prayers are with you (Jogo’s ex-teammates -friends-, coaches, etc.) hoping for a quick and full recovery. God is good and will see you navigate through this one.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

While disappointed we won’t be able to watch FCD games soon, we are happy that players and staff have started to shift full focus to off-the-field matters. Likewise, we feel it’s time to give things a bit of a positive spin from our perspective as well.

Last year, the same FCD first team, currently in an eight-day quarantine, provided Jogo with the invaluable opportunity to make his first team debut. We will forever be grateful to the FCD organization, coaching staff (Mikey Varas) and the players (Thomas Roberts, Bryan Reynolds, etc.) who supported his debut (know that we are praying for your full and quick recovery). This is how it all went down…

As Jogo’s productive U17’s (2018-2019) DA season was coming to an end at the expense of local foes and eventual national champions: Solar, North Texas SC (NTSC) opportunities started opening up. Seizing those up gradually led Jogo to the game against Lansing where he had two assists (see below). At the conclusion of that match, his football landscape started changing…

First, he was named to the USL-1 team of the week for the first time and more perks would come his way right after that performance…

Team of the week after the Lansing game where Jogo had two assists and completed 90% of his passes

Second, the more frequent training with NTSC continued. Jogo’s confidence soared and was at an all-time high. In fact, he felt that in the next game (following his two assist game) against Greenville, he would be part of the starting XI once again. However, on Thursday of that week, during training, Coach Eric put the starting XI to scrimmage against the subs which was customary. To his surprise, Jogo was requested to play with the subs, but he put his head down and on he scrimmaged.

At the end of the practice, Coach Eric pulled Jogo aside and informed him that he would be rostered with the first team on Sunday, July 7th in an international friendly against Liga MX Xolos. Jogo was ecstatic. The game against Xolos would not just mark the return of former FCD Coach Oscar Pareja to Toyota Stadium but also signified Jogo’s renewed opportunity to practice with the FCD first team the following day. These friendlies are not very frequent for FCD. See here.

Friday: practice with the first team:

The chance to practice with the first team will come sooner or later for a lot of young players. It did several times for both Johan and Jogo at FCD. Whenever this takes place in your player’s journey: just have fun and enjoy the moment. Don’t overthink it. The player needs to be himself/herself and not try to do more than just KISS it. Such was the case with Jogo this time and he had an excellent practice that day…

Saturday: the day before the international friendly:

I remember walking over to Toyota Stadium (from the apartment) with Jogo Saturday evening to try to watch the Xolos “open” practice. The main objective was to say hello to Oscar Pareja and watch a few of the players Jogo could be facing the next day. Honestly, we didn’t know whether Jogo would even play or not but we were just embracing the moment. “It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared” – Whitney M. Young

When we arrived at the stadium’s south gate, Jogo identified himself as an FCD academy/NTSC player who would be part of Xolos friendly the next day. Both of the security guards were incredulous (given his age probably) as they refused to let us through the gates since we didn’t have any sort of IDs. I believe they were also charging $5 to watch the Xolos practice but neither of us had our wallets as the idea was to watch practice for only a few minutes and return home to rest. When I volunteered to go get my wallet from the apartment, Jogo said: “Dad, it’s okay. one day, these guys will know who I am without the need of an ID“…so we forewent watching practice…

Game day:

The day went by quickly…Jogo needed to be at the stadium by 3 PM for a 6:30 PM kickoff. Since he couldn’t drive by himself yet and it was a toasty day, mom drove Jogo. Honestly, mom had no idea where to drop Jogo off and she ended up dropping him off by the South Gate. A few fans were already waiting the arrivals of players for pictures and autographs. As expected, hardly anybody (except a young, adventurous kid) asked Jogo for an autograph; I know that was very memorable to Jogo..probably more so than the Xolos game itself. Anyway, as a family, were so out of it and just playing it by ear. A few minutes later, Jogo found out in the locker room that family members could get in for free and requested tickets for us.

With the kind heart he has, he managed to quickly find out how to get us tickets (btw, the T-mobile service in the new locker room was horrendous so he couldn’t get a hold of us). However, at last, he managed to send me a text asking me to pick up 4 tickets at will-call…and on we proceeded to the game. Johan couldn’t watch this game as he was in the middle of DA playoffs.

Entrance from the T-mobile-deprived locker room

To Jogo’s surprise, he was in the starting XI which was the cherry on top. However, that immediately could translate into nervousness. To be honest, Jogo didn’t look nervous to us; although he later admitted to be just a tad… Thus, after knocking a few balls around during warm ups, he flushed those feelings out of his system and on he went….

The Pablo Aranguiz situation:

Pablo had been very vocal about the current coach’s system where a traditional static #10 doesn’t fit his scheme. Pablo had made his disagreement evident throughout the season and as a result, his playing time had suffered. In this game, Pablo was given an opportunity to play with mostly youngsters but he was evidently not pleased about that either. He was playing as a winger (out of his normal position).

The hot afternoon did not help calm his frustration/anxiety and he had a few border line risky plays where he either tried to do too much (w/out releasing the ball) or was a bit reckless on defense. This inevitably put Jogo (who was defending/attacking on the same side) on a bit of an uncertain situation. Pablo’s frustration (along with Kobra’s) was clear and only lasted until the 40th minute. In an super reckless challenge to a Xolos player, Pablo was deservedly shown a straight red card (yes in a friendly) which forced undesired subs playing a man down. The spirit of the friendly was a bit tainted by that play. Ultimately, Kobra who was supposed to have come in for Pablo never saw any action that day.

The game turned out to be very uneventful overall (0-0) but in the end Jogo got to play against players like Erik “El Cubo” Torres, Fernando Arce, Miller Bolaños, Ariel Nahuelpan, etc. He came off the game at the 79th minute. It had been a good game for him. Next up was the friendly against La Liga powerhouse: Sevilla.

The Sevilla friendly was another level of a game which will deserve its own future post. To conclude this post, we will reiterate our well-being wishes to the entire FCD team hoping that their next activity (on/off the field) comes soon enough and that journey is as successful as playing football. As for Jogo, he is gradually pursuing the next thing in his life. We also want to wish him good luck this weekend on the next challenge he’s embarked on…. seize the day son!!! #theGomezway

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JoGo 😈

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Now you are here though….

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