Category Archives: Chumchat

College soccer (football) explained for players and parents

Choosing to play a sport in college is not only a great honor but a strategic life decision and one that is preceded by years of preparation and sacrifices (both academic and athletic). Soccer (notice that we don’t call it football) is no different. Making that decision can be complicated especially for first time parents or parents of players who have a genuine shot at football professionalism. The decision-making process is long, arduous, and overwhelming. Preparation is the key.

FCD’s emphasis is soccer; with the production of great soccer players, colleges come knocking

Playing soccer in college is a very viable path to continue enjoying a variation of the beautiful game albeit at an amateur level. In some rare cases, that choice could still be an excellent option to reach professionalism (Daryl Dike) while getting “compensated” (free tuition, room and board) for it. Unfortunately, most college soccer players who become professionals do so by cutting short their academic years. In fact, the number of college soccer players who complete a college degree (Andre Shinyashiki) and find professionalism afterwards is decreasing at rapid rates due to the growing professional competing paths: USL-1, USL-C, MLS, MASL, playing abroad, etc..

USL Championship is another vehicle to professionalism diluting college soccer talent

If the family (and the player) have a desire and options (scholarship offers) to play at the college level, be selective about it. With an increasing dilution of soccer talent in college soccer programs, college coaches recruit aggressively; however, don’t rush into a final decision. First, figure out the main motivation for pursuing college soccer instead of any other alternative. Once the decision to pursue college soccer is final, then select the program that best suits your needs.

If the main reason to pursue a college education is to use college soccer as a bridge to professionalism, give more weight to the college soccer program reputation and track record over academics in your decision. If it’s the other way around, research the academics thoroughly based on future academic interests and expectations. Soccer often can be an excellent vehicle to pursue an education at a prestigious school that would otherwise not be available purely on academic merit.

Aldo Quevedo. FCD Academy product

There’s not a formula that fits all families. Once the decision is made, do your due diligence to avoid surprises and maximize the college (soccer included) experience. Below are some additional soccer factors to consider.

Soccer…not football (differences):

College soccer is different than normal football. It’s as American as it can be: dramatic, physical, and win at all cost emphasis. Wins are needed to help the program be ranked higher, systematically leverage the ranking to get into the College Cup tournament at the end of the season, and get better future recruits (it’s a self-benefitting mechanism). Similarly, matches cannot end in a tie during regulation. Therefore, there is drama until the last second of the game and most (if not all) programs are driven by immediate results which inevitably impact the product on the field.

Some would say that, the brand of “football” played at the college level is not the most aesthetic. The NCAA rules do not help its perception either. Allowing up to eleven substitutions only encourage the game to be more athletic-based than regular technical football where less than half of those subs are allowed.

Playing with/against older players makes the game more reliant on experience than pure talent. It’s very rare for freshmen to receive an adequate amount of playing time. Since the year 2016, an influx of older foreign players who have given up professionalism in their respective countries, has migrated towards NCAA programs in pursuit of a free education and a last chance to professionalism in the United States. Let’s analyze some other NCAA rules further:

Rules

NCAA soccer is governed by 17 rules similar to FIFA’s football laws of the game; thus not much change in quantity. The main changes are on quality:

  1. Season duration: It’s a compressed fall season with 18 to 20 games in a 10 week period. In the same period, non-domestic football clubs play (on average) half of that amount of games (without injury prone overtime periods). Lack of proper recovery often leads to player injuries.
  2. Roster size: On average, D1 schools carry 30 players but roster size is unlimited making it difficult for all players to find an adequate amount of playing time.
  3. Number of subs: There are eleven subs allowed per game; in some cases, the same sub is allowed to re-enter the field during the same period (2nd, overtime). It’s very common for players to not be used for entire seasons especially young ones (thus the concept of red-shirting).
  4. Overtime periods: If the score is tied at the end of regulation, overtime (two ten minute halves) is required. Then, the golden goal rule applies. Longer games with a shorter season (sometimes played in turf fields) magnifies the probability of injuries.
  5. Fields: For different reasons (ex. climate, financial, maintenance, etc.), some college soccer fields are turf. Stats (and personal experience) show that turf fields are more prone to injuries for soccer players.
  6. Game clock: The clock stops a lot (ex. injuries, goals, issuing of cards, etc.). It’s extremely American. In fact, the count-down clock is anti-football and sometimes annoying. What some people consider the most American aspect of it is the ten second public announcement type of countdown at the end of each period.
  7. Scholarships: In rosters of up to 30 players, there can only be 9.9 scholarships per team and the money (depending on the school) is not always guaranteed. The talent spectrum in any roster comprised of 30 players varies significantly.

Eligibility

Any high school student/athlete in good academic standing is eligible to play soccer in college. In fact, in normal years, most college coaches attend important tournaments such as former DA (now MLS next) showcases, Dallas Cup, GA Cup, etc. to recruit high-school aged players. It’s important the players display their best soccer at these high caliber events. However, per NCAA rules, coaches can’t contact potential players/families until the beginning of their junior year (more below). Note: There are ways to get around this rule by leveraging a club/high school coach for communication.

Recruiting:

Per NCAA rules, June 15 is the first day that college coaches can reach out to potential players (including emails, texts, calls, etc.) entering their junior year in high school.

This is the time when coaches will be in their best behavior for recruiting purposes and their sales pitch will be in full display. If there’s enough interest, they may eventually want the player to visit the campus during the player’s senior year These visits will be at the program’s expense (official visits) for players only; however, the number of paid visits is limited per NCAA rules. Official visits can only take place after August 1st of the student/athlete prior to the start of the HS junior year. Unofficial visits (paid by the family) follow a similar scrutiny.

Amateurism:

At any point, if the player continues to have serious aspirations to play in college, they should not sign any type of paperwork with an agent during their high school or college years. It’s okay to talk and receive advice from agents, scouts, etc. In fact, the genuine agents will advice the player to go to college if they deem that to be the best route instead of forcing trials that could only delay/prevent a potential free (or tuition-reduced) education.

Also, do not get compensated to play (sponsorships, one time gifts, etc.) soccer (there’s a recent NCAA rule change, please read this). Any financial compensation received from the school, could render college soccer eligibility void per NCAA rules. Note: There’s a loophole that some universities use as they are able to recruit international players who were professionals in their respective countries. Furthermore, if there’s a desire to supplement the short college fall soccer season, there are plenty of high level amateur leagues. For example, in DFW, we have “The Roja league” which offers great fall/winter and summer competition for college students without compromising NCAA eligibility. Other amateur leagues include the famous Premier Development League (or USL2).

Other aspects to consider

Once contacted by college coaches and the player and family are fully engaged comparing multiple soccer programs, there are many aspects to consider that can differentiate one soccer program from another. Here are a few to consider:

Coaching staff:

The rapport between player and potential coaching staff is instrumental. Coaching staff will do anything to recruit the player so genuine “chemistry” is often hard to discern. Speak to former and current players and their respective families for a broader opinion. Specifically, talk to those players who may not be getting much playing time. See what they like about the coaching staff and what they don’t.

There are some unscrupulous coaches out there. In our recruiting process with Johan, we were heavily recruited by an assistant coach who, throughout the recruiting process, omitted to disclose the fact that the then current Head Coach was months away from retirement. No insignificant piece of information but it spoke volumes about his character. He is now the Head Coach of that same program. Johan received a full-ride offer from that D1 program so no sour grapes but character is definitely hard to gauge. Always ask the question about the coaching staff tenure and plans to move on. You’d be surprised what some coaches are willing to share.

Character may be hard to gauge; however, technical and tactical teaching ability is easier. Watch the brand of soccer the interested college team plays and see if it’s appealing. During visits, players will be invited to watch a game. There are a lot of quality college soccer coaches; some are just awaiting an opportunity to be promoted to USL, MLS, etc. On the other hand, NCAA does not require minimum coaching credentials; thus, there is a significant amount of coaches without the proper coaching licenses or experience in charge of developing potential professional soccer players . That’s alarming. There are programs who incorporate former players -as part of the scholarships offers- as staff members. These former players have no coaching credentials in most cases.

Weather:

Has the player soccer always been playing at sea level or in beautiful Colorado? College soccer is not the time to move to a contrasting high altitude, or cold weather location. If the player has been playing in the Texas heat since youth, consider the repercussions of playing in cold weather (college soccer is a fall sport). After all, over half of the season games will be played at home. Do your research and select a program that fits the player’s desired playing conditions for a smoother transition. Moving away from home, is already enough of a change. Don’t add any more complexity to the move. Equally important to the weather are the program soccer facilities.

Facilities:

If the weather is favorable, does the school have facilities with natural grass or turf? If having their own facilities is important to the player, a college visit is a must. Some players prefer to walk out of their dorms and be 5 minutes away from the practice fields. Yet others prefer the commute on a bus to training every morning. Does the school only have turf fields because of their geographic location? If so, have you been injured on that type of surface before? Are you accustomed to that playing surface? Statistics show a higher incidence of injuries playing on turf fields. In some cases, and based on the player’s position (ex. goalkeepers), avoiding turf fields could be a determining factor in the college program selection.

Does the school have its own soccer specific stadium or do they share it with the American football program? What is their attendance like? For some players, playing in front of family, classmates and other athletes is important and could be a deal breaker when making a decision.

College career:

Just looking at the statistics, it is becoming less and less viable for players to obtain a professional degree (3.5 years) and realistically become a professional football player afterwards. It’s safe to say that if players have any aspirations to play professionally, playing more than 2 years of college soccer greatly dilutes (almost kills) those aspirations. However, for goalkeepers college may still be the most logical step in their careers since they have a different soccer longevity. That said, for other positions, college could be a temporary tangent to professional football that may ultimately shorten a career in soccer but cultivate other life professional possibilities. Every player’s path to soccer professionalism is unique.

The flip side is that there are programs/entire conferences (big 10) that guarantee the soccer scholarship money for the duration of a player’s enrollment at the university (provided the enrollment is interrupted by a bona fide reason). In those cases, the player can play a couple of college soccer seasons and secure scholarship money for life. Do your research, it is worth looking into it.

Season duration:

As mentioned earlier, regular season runs from the end of August to mid November (playoffs included). The spring semester is mostly used for training and scrimmages. If professionalism is a goal, this should not be overlooked. A college player can go several months from January to June (July is pre-season) without playing a significant number of competitive games. In a sport where repetitions to master technical aptitude is critical, reducing on the field time, truncates their soccer development significantly. Ask coaching staff what soccer activities are planned for the spring “season”. Some programs play friendlies against USL, MLS sides with USL, MLS sides dominating the outcome of those games. Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Program Reputation:

A close friend of ours recently selected Georgetown as his college soccer destination due to its recent success. It’s an important factor to consider. Flip side is that past history may not necessarily be a reflection of future performance; however, recent past history could be. Winning becomes a tradition in some programs (ex. Stanford, Indiana, North Carolina). Do your homework.

MLS players:

Does the school have a good track record sending college players to the draft and then on to MLS. If so, that may be an important factor to consider in the decision. In some cases, college coaches have a close relationship with MLS clubs (SMU->FCD)

Past experiences:

There have been players who have tried out professional football in a foreign country and didn’t like it. Below is an interview (in Spanish) of Jacobo Reyes’ (2017 U17 MNT WC participant) of his one-year college soccer stint at the University of Portland. He first became a professional in Mexico, then joined the University of Portland (somehow) and then quit college soccer to continue his professional career in Mexico. Players jumping ship in the middle of their soccer college experience could also be an indication of some form of instability.

Johan at FCD’s Chase signing party

Compensation (Scholarships):

By NCAA rules, playing in college will not earn players a salary; however, it earns you a free (or significantly tuition reduced) college education which in most cases is much better. If possible, select a school that has a good academic program AND a good soccer program. It’s the best of both worlds. However, remember that most soccer programs can only offer 9.9 scholarships but the good news is that coaches can be very creative in offering financial packages that cover most (if not all) the cost (asking former players to become part of the coaching staff upon graduation). On average, soccer rosters include about 30 players. That said, most kids do not get full rides but if you can secure a full ride, perhaps that offsets some of the factors listed above.

In conclusion, selecting a higher level university only for academic purposes is important. Trying to combine that with a selection of a soccer program is more convoluted. In the end, it’s a very personal decision and one that must be analyzed carefully. Becoming a professional soccer player doesn’t negate anybody the ability to pursue a college education but the cost of it will be out of your own pocket instead of the school’s. Some players, like Johan currently, pursue a college education, albeit at an slower pace, while being a professional player. That’s also another route. Invest in yourself!!!

Aside from the love for the game, the most important aspect of pursuing college soccer may turn out to be the completion of an academic degree with obvious (albeit not guaranteed) long term financial benefits. At some point, it becomes a win-win situation; free higher education and the continuity of the sport the player loves. I will leave you with this thought: In some cases, maybe the family and the player are not totally convinced of the best decision to make. Consider taking a gap year to be more comfortable with the final decision…as always, reach out if you have suggestions or new topics you’d like to see discussed. Until next time #theGomezway

Football’s unwritten laws/rules

Most of us football fans (aka experts) will pride ourselves in thoroughly knowing the ‘beautiful game’; some will claim empirical knowledge: “I have been playing since I was five years old“, “saw the ‘hand of God’ live in 86“, others may brag: “I played college at the D1 level” (applicable to American “soccer” fans). Our favorite one is when the Geography card is played: “I grew up in <insert traditional football nation>…err England, Argentina> or the social media one: “I have ‘X’ soccer followers on Twitter“. Yet others, in an effort to establish ultimate football credibility, will state that they played pro football with <insert football star’s name> but an injury prevented them from going further. Whichever the case may be, the common denominator is the football “expertise” that the average fan claims to possess.

Ironically, another common trait among some of us football “experts” is often that few actually know the most fundamental piece of information: the rules (aka as the laws) of the game. In fact, even fewer actually know how many laws of the game there are. Why is it important to know the laws of the game you wonder? Well, for starters, you can’t either play or critique a game that is not understood. More importantly, it establishes football credibility and honestly, keeps controversy discussions (ex. VAR, offside, refereeing, etc.) to a minimum. Second, it aids in one’s understanding and analysis of the totality of the game (ex. What quadrants are referees less likely to issue a yellow card?). Using non-existent words/phrases like “offsides”, “hand-ball”, “high kick”, “playing on the ground”, “scoring points”, etc. quickly gives it away. Third, it elevates one’s football IQ and if the knowledge is channeled correctly, one can become a better player, coach, official, fan, etc. If not for self-advancement purposes, learn the laws of the game to further appreciate the beauty of the game including the referees.

While it’s true that there are frequent revisions to the laws of the game, the quantity (and spirit of each) hasn’t really changed in a while (that could change quickly). Thus, next time, there’s a desire to boast how much you know “soccer or football”, please take some time to at least revise the latest revision of the laws of the game. All that being said, for those of you whose knowledge goes beyond the laws of the game, there are unwritten ones (some may call them clichés or rules) that only those who have played the game (at any level) would know by heart. Here are a few:

Players:

Former player rule:

When a player faces their former club, it’s an unwritten rule that the player will either score or have an assist. Nobody really understands the underlying reasons: chip on the shoulder, stamina, prove a point, luck, revenge, etc. Any of those factors could be a contributor. A recent example close to home, Michael Barrios, ex-FC Dallas player scored against his former team in Colorado’s 3-0 rout of ‘Los Toros’ earlier this year and then again yesterday. Below are additional examples from around European clubs. BTW, sometimes a lot can be inferred by the way the player celebrates their goal against their former club if you know what I mean.

Scoreline:

2-0 lead rule:

Some may say it’s a cliché but the reality is that one of the cruelest and most deceiving score lines in football is a 2-0 lead. Teams leading by this score tend to reach a relaxing comfort zone and that normally becomes a recipe for disaster. It’s always best to treat this score as a 1-0 loss; otherwise, complacency could become the precursor for an opponent’s comeback. See Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich game recently.

Goals:

Goal vulnerability rule:

Teams are the most vulnerable in the ten minutes after scoring a goal; nobody really knows why: zealousness caused by over celebration, high emotion, lack of discipline, etc. There have been studies done on it but some may still say it’s a cliché. Either way, it’s of utmost importance to celebrate the goal but hastily prepare to continue playing and scoring again; otherwise, the opponent could capitalize on the goal celebration distractions/mood and a momentum reversal can occur within minutes. In a low-scoring game such as football, you want to minimize the opponent’s chances of scoring. Be ready from the time your team leaves the dressing room to the final whistle.

Dressing room goal rule:

Similar to the reasons stated above, a team could also be vulnerable shortly after taking the field after from the dressing room (at either half). The USA vs Canada game on Sunday is an example of this. Although Canada dominated the US, the solid US defense kept Canada from scoring and the score was maintained throughout the match.

To be clear, if your team is scored on in the first few minutes of the game (dressing room goal), don’t panic and regroup. If a second goal takes place in the first 20 minutes, the final score line can get out of hand and result in a high scoring rout of your team. See the recent relegation-promotion Bundesliga playoff game between Kiel vs Koln where 3 Koln goals were scored in the first 20 minutes.

Double header in the 18th rule:

Everyone knows how efficient set pieces are (over 33% of goals are scored off of set pieces). Therefore, avoid offensive headers in your penalty area (normally from corner kicks). More specifically, avoid two consecutive (double) headers in your own penalty area as most of the time those will result in a goal for the opponent.

Free Kicks:

Determining the free kick taker:

As stated above, free kicks (set pieces) account for a high percentage of goals. Learning how to defend them starts with knowing who will be the free kick taker. Thus, whenever there are multiple players standing behind the ball trying to deceive the opponent as to who will take the kick, know that whoever placed the ball on the ground and touched it last will be the shooter. Defend accordingly. The other guy is just standing there as a decoy.

Managers/Coaches:

New manager rule:

Managers who take over for a team mid-season usually win their first game no matter how bad the team was doing prior. At the very least, the team won’t lose. Nobody knows what it is but the influx of new ideas and the concept that all positions are “up for grabs” seems to bring out the best out of all players.

We recently experienced this close to home in a LouCity loss against new Atlanta United II boss: Jack Collison. He secured his first win in his first match as the new head coach. After that win, Atlanta United has been unable to win in the 6 matches following the coaching change.

Referees:

Ejection rule:

Hand to the back pocket is always a red card. In pre-VAR times, there were no “if’s” or “but’s”. Once you saw that hand reaching out the back pocket, the player was gone. VAR has changed that a bit in that in some cases, the card could be rescinded. In general, there’s no point in arguing the red card unless it’s for game management purposes. It’s always best to minimize the walk of shame to the dressing rooms.

50/50 ball out of bounds rule:

After a 50/50 challenge and when the ball ends up out of bounds (especially in the referees quadrant), make it a habit to fetch the ball immediately. Having refereed games for over 20 years, I will tell you that referees, in the absence of a clear angle to grant the next possession will ‘often’ use the honor system and err on the side of whoever fetches the ball first. Weird but true.

Penalty Kicks:

Whenever a referee calls a PK in favor of team A in the first half, there a very high probability that he will try to compensate and call another one for team B in the second half provided the game is close. It’s human nature and referees are compassionate at times.

There are plenty more rules so this publication will continue to be amended forever...I should be charging for sharing this information. In summary, while it’s good to educate our kids (and ourselves) first on the 17 laws of the game; it’s just as good for us to know the unwritten ones whether you pass them on or not. No coach will ever teach you these unwritten rules. The game itself will teach them to you (and your kids) and sometimes in the cruelest of ways. One thing for sure, the sooner you learn them, the better prepared you will be and the narrower the football knowledge gap will be between us and the rest of the world. For more useful information, continue following us. #theGomezway

BTW, the next Chumchat season is around the corner, the guests have been busy making some football adjustments. For now, I’ll leave you with one of the latest episodes where one of current USMNT left-back starter talks about a multitude of things. He had a solid game against Canada. Get to know Sam Vines a little more. Hope you enjoy it.

Coaching changes are inevitable

Coaching changes are an inexorable part of professional sports. More often than not, coaches are judged by results…more specifically wins; however, sometimes they are not. When coaching changes occur due to undesired results, people tend to have different perspectives. Some would argue that immediate coaching changes are always necessary to bring new blood in while others (more tolerant) would prefer coaching process be honored and given time to yield the necessary results. It’s all situational.

In 2021, both of the boys teams have experienced a coaching change for what appears to be different reasons. Coaching changes always bring uncertainty for some and yet hope for others (staff, fans, and players themselves)

Johan

In the 20-21 season, given their financial recovery initiative, Porto B continued to rely heavily on their youth. After half of season of mixed results (accompanied by two previous seasons of similar ones). Rui Barros (a Portuguese legend) was sacked because Porto B was nearing the relegation zone at the end of January. By the league rules, Porto B is not eligible for promotion because Porto already has a team in the top league; however, Porto B is indeed eligible for relegation.

For Johan, the coaching change was an unfortunate event for two reasons. 1. Rui valued Johan dearly and although he never played him as a striker, Johan was developing well and was playing 90 minutes each game. 2. For Rui’s last two games as the coach of the team, Johan was out sick and couldn’t play. As soon as the new coach (Antonio Folha) took over, he adhered to the scientific method…no changes to the existing starting lineup. Well, Johan had not been part of it and has seen extremely limited action since Coach Folha’s arrival. In fact, one could say that Johan has seen more action with the first team than with Porto B. To exacerbate the situation, Coach Folha brought with him his son (see below) who happens to play the same position as Johan so naturally, it’s become more difficult to challenge for playing time.

We continue to be supportive of the team and Coach Folha although it’s a challenging situation; however, it’s moments like these that help players, and families grow together. We know Johan is dealing with it in a mature manner and has kept a growth mindset. He’s consistently making rosters and yesterday he finally saw some playing time when the team was already down 2-0.

Johan playing against Benfica

C’est la vie. Ironically, with Coach Folha, Porto B is in more danger to get relegated even when using mostly Porto first team players. In this particular case, a coaching change has not improved the existing situation. But rest assured, Porto B is NOT going to get relegated… In the event that Porto B team were to get relegated, the club will have to honor the coaching process, be patient, and keep Coach Folha until they earn promotion in the future. We shall see.

Jonathan

We can speculate as to what may have happened here but we won’t; Coach Hackworth is no longer with the club and unlike Johan’s case, it’s obvious that the decision was not based on results (post winning team in the US). His departure is a big loss for the club, its fans, players, and of course us (the Gómez).

Changes have started. Danny has taken over as the interim coach and that’s great news as there’ll be some continuity for Jogo. Time will tell. For now, we all need to rally our support for Coach Danny and new staff for the season that has just started. The first game was promising given all the injuries.

In sports, coaching changes will always take place. When they happen, new opportunities will become available for players that maybe did not have as much participation with the former coach or maybe the new coach will implement a new way of coaching like Johan’s. Whichever the case may be, change is constant and as fans, players, families, we must adapt. That’s the way life is. The following book: “Who moved my cheese?” is a short recommendation on the subject of change being always constant. I recently had a chance to chat with Coach Luchi from FC Dallas on a related topic. Have any of you readers wondered what could happen to the FC Dallas homegrowns when/if Luchi et al depart?

Speaking of FC Dallas, as we start wrapping up this post, Mourinho was recently named the new Roma manager last week. What will that bring for our good friend Bryan? Hoping it brings stability above all in his new journey. Mourinho is a polarizing figure. One thing is for sure; we are all rooting for Bryan because he’s always been a great kiddo and even a better player. His family is top class, and in the end, we are all in this together…we have been since the kids were young.

BTW, this week’s guest in Chumchat is Benji MIchel. He was requested by Daryl Dike and the chums came through. Meet University of Portland (UP) alumni. He’s good acquaintance of Johan from the UP days. Benji talks about what’s like to compete against Nani, Pato, for playing time, his preferred position, and his dual (Haiti) nationality. What’s like to play in Oscar Pareja’s (who wasn’t the coach who drafted him) system and of course his sneaker business on the side. How does Benji define success? Find out.

Jogo’s pre, post, and actual game day routines

Athletes approach their respective crafts differently; footballers have their own pre and post-game routines -especially the more experienced ones-; some may have their talismanic rituals. Younger footballers like Jogo are barely developing habits. He is figuring it all out likely based on game outcomes. Today, I will write about his pre, post and game day routines in case anybody finds them helpful. Nothing unorthodox but this is how he prepares for the last pre-season game played on a cloudy 60+ degrees Saturday at 3 PM and what he does afterwards.

Day before

We ate Mexican food kinda late maybe out of convenience and to celebrate my arrival to the beautiful city of Louisville. The food was takeout at Los Aztecas from downtown. Decent portions but a bit pricey. Meanwhile, the club’s social media department continues to be generous with Jogo.

Loucity’s Instagram post 04.16.21 (Louisville, KY)

Game day

He gets up around 9 AM and cooks breakfast for both of us; he makes scramble eggs for me and an egg bagel for him. Right after breakfast, he heads to his room to use the deep tissue massage gun. He refuses help; I guess he knows his body well or he knows how much of a savage I could be when giving massage.

Aduro Sport Massaging Gun

Around 11:15 AM, he runs to the group room to pick up his pre-game meal. He returns home around noon and takes a shower (have to look good for those game day pictures, huh?). He eats most of the pre-game meal, heads to his room for a prayer and is ready to go.

Jogo right before heading to the game 04.17.21 (Louisville, KY)

Right before 1 PM, it’s time for him to drive to the stadium. Exciting times for all of us. It’s the last game of a three-month pre-season but the first with limited fan capacity at home. Fans here are very special and have an appreciation for Jogo. You can feel it. Please know that our family is so grateful for the hospitality and love displayed.

I then walk over to the stadium at 2:15 PM and arrive around 2:45 PM. I did not get to watch warmups but that’s okay. I get to take some selfies and share them with the family.

Most importantly, I am inside the cathedral once again and better yet, I am happy Jogo is playing. All is well.

After a hard-earned victory (2-0) against a quality undefeated opponent, I meet up with Jogo on the field for the obligatory picture and to thank him. Pittsburgh is the team LouCity faced when Jogo made his debut and had a knock. I didn’t realize this game had a subliminal meaning to him.

The Lord gave me the opportunity to see both of the boys become professional footballers. I’m done here!!!

After the brief pleasantries, I exit the stadium and walk back home; he arrives home around 6 PM. He immediately eats dinner and wants to talk about the game. I tell him we must wait the “recommended” 24 hours or until he gets the film. He insists (and I did jot down some notes) so we briefly just go over some general team stuff. Gotta love his passion but more so, his drive and desire to improve. We wind down the rest of the evening watching some MLS and LigaMX games. It’s non-stop football with him.

Day after

Jogo gets up around 8:15 AM on Sunday, eats a banana for pre-breakfast and goes to the stadium for recovery. Since no teammates are using the recovery boots, he borrows them for about an hour. Soon after recovery, he eats his real breakfast while doing some school work (multi-tasking is a gift with teenagers).

Around noon, we go to the beautiful LouCity Academy fields to support the U18s/U19s taking on Ohio Premier in ECNL action. Entertaining game, he sees a lot of familiar faces and introduces me to teammates and staff (mental health recovery is also a must). LouCity Academy wins 2-1 and we then go grab lunch at “La Rosita”. Semi-cheat day eating some delicious tacos accompanied with agua de horchata. All that recommended by none other than Oscar Jimenez.

While we are eating and watching the Miami FC vs LA Galaxy MLS game where some of Jogo’s friends are playing, he informs me that he received game film from the day before and wants to go over it with me. We head over to Home Depot to buy a plant and then back home with a full stomach. Now I have video homework to do for the rest of the weekend.

At 5 PM, he takes about a one hour nap to recharge his teenager batteries. Then around 7:30 PM, he invites me to the gym and goes there to work on some agility drills. He is anxious to work on some feedback he received recently. I decide to work out with him (having a partner in crime is more motivating). We end the day with a light supper (vegetable/broccoli soup) and off we go to bed around 11:30 PM to start another week.

I am so grateful that I get to be with him for a few days. Thank you Hack and Danny but mostly, thank you Lord for allowing me to “see” him one more day. Looking forward to opening day.

You thought it was a bragging shot huh? That’s why we practice 04.20.21 (Loucity, KY)

Note: At the writing of this post on Monday evening, we just returned from shooting/finishing practice at the park. That left leg is dangerous. Until next time #theGomezway.

BTW, listen to the latest Chumchat episode and support Tanner and Johan. Bryce Duke is the latest guest. He talks about his eccentric life in LA. What car does Carlos Vela drive? How about those Sounders players? Did y’all know Bryce played with Noah Beck at RSL academy; he’s great friends with all the famous Tik Tokers. On the pitch, what are his goals with LAFC this year? Bryce is a well-rounded player, silky smooth whose style is similar to that of FC Dallas’ Thomas Roberts but life wasn’t always easy. Bryce is one of the first merch supporters of Chumchat. Enjoy.

Season 3 Volume 6: Bryce Duke

We moved to Louisville…

…Ok, not quite yet; however, one of the silver linings of COVID has been our family’s ability to work from practically anywhere in the world. Within the appropriate restrictions and guidelines, we have been very fortunate to be able to safely (and semi-permanently) visit some family members during uncertain times. See, since late January of this year, we have made Louisville our second home.

Bordering the state of Indiana, Louisville is a gorgeous city with a wealth of history to offer to all of its visitors. Strolling through the 85 acres of Waterfront park has become customary and prolonging our daily runs/walks through downtown Louisville is now a routine for the family. We have loved every minute of it. Here are some of the highlights of our time here so far.

Airport

We don’t always arrive to Louisville by plane but one thing is for sure; both the skies and the roads always welcome us with open arms. Every time we arrive at the Mohammad Ali airport, there’s a sense of calmness and hospitality. COVID indeed plays a role in that solitude; however, you all should see how crowded the DFW airport was when the below picture was taken (especially during Spring Break).

Mohammad Ali’s airport always welcomes us with “open arms”

Louisville Waterfront park

This public park is the closest green area near our new residence. Running parallel to the Ohio River, there’s something in it for all ages. There are spacious lawns, playgrounds for the youngsters, picnic areas for the families, boat docks for water lovers, Lincoln Memorial for history lovers, and possibly the most scenic attraction is the Big Four Bridge.

Our daily runs normally make us navigate through every part of it. When Chuy, our dog, accompanies us, we can’t take him across the Big Four Bridge due to the rules but otherwise, we navigate the entire park every outing. A part of the park runs underneath Interstate-64 which can get a little loud (our pet abhors walking under it) at times. Other than that, we have seen the entire park AND in every season of the year.

Back in January, we saw the park inundated with snow for the first time; it looked majestically white. As the snow melted and more precipitation fell, the vegetation started turning green and the Ohio River overflowed blocking parts of the park. Right at the heart of the park is Lincoln Memorial…

Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial at Waterfront park is a must-see. A hidden cultural gem that centers around the 16th president’s Kentucky roots. In our walks/runs through the park, the memorial always drew our attention until we finally stopped by to admire it.

The memorial features a 12-foot statue of Lincoln seated on a rock (see below), looking out over the river. Four bas-reliefs (three pictured below) illustrate Lincoln’s ties to Kentucky. The memorial site features an amphitheater facing the river with granite seating that includes engravings of four famous Lincoln quotes. The canopy of trees that lead to the amphitheater includes several species that that were favorites of Lincoln.

“I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better”

– Abraham Lincoln

Adjacent to the memorial is one of the main attractions in Louisville: the Big Four Bridge.

Big Four Bridge:

Every time we go back “home” to Texas, we miss going on our interstate (Kentucky to Indiana) runs/walks across the Big Four Bridge. It is a metallic structure with so much history. Navigating through it, one can see a spectrum of folks exercising (walkers, runners, cyclists, etc.) or photographing. It’s so motivational and inspirational. Sunsets here are also very eye-opening. See below.

On the Indiana side (Jeffersonville), one can stop for a delicious meal at Parlour Pizza where the live music, the multiple tv screens with different sporting events make the atmosphere unique. We highly recommend it in between walks or after a run. The ample outdoor space is very welcoming.

LouCity Football Academy

Strolling farther down River Road, one will come across the new LouCity football training facility. It’s 6 fields with state of the art lighting, and configuration (love the L shape concept). During our first couple of month in town, we witnessed a couple of U18s/U19s scrimmages against MLS Next academies: Columbus Crew and FC Cincinnati academies. Without revealing the final score, it suffices to say that the LouCity Academy is well positioned to compete against any MLS Next academy. Mario Sanchez and coaching staff are working hard to build a reputation and indeed made a statement in those two games. Outliers? Time will tell.

Kimmie was the best player on the FC Cincinnati U18s/U19s MLS next academy team…by far

If one stops by the training facility any weekday, one can witness practices for any of the two Louisville professional teams. In fact, if you wait long enough, one may get to take a picture with a Champions League and world cup winner…a legend in women’s soccer.

Joana and Yūki Nagasato (Louisville, KY) 03.17.21

Thurman Hutchins Park

Further down from the new LouCity football training facility, one finds Thurman Hutchins Park. Go there on Wednesdays and you will find a group of cosmopolitan football players of decent quality. Good pickup football being played from 4-6 PM. Music is good, level is better and weather is even more so. Players are friendly and skilled. We will miss them once we move back to Texas. The main reason we discovered them was because we went to watch a LouCity scrimmage against Central College. Jogo looked good.

KFC Yum Center

This place gets packed during college basketball season; unfortunately, we have not been able to be present for any of the Cardinal games or social events. Our time will come but it would have been great to see the #2 Louisville Lady Cards play against the #1 NC State. For now, it suffices to jog around it on the beautiful 65 degree afternoons.

Louisville extreme park

Growing up, what I would have done to have access to an extreme park like this. Extreme sports have been evolving at a rapid rate for many years and we are glad that the city of Louisville recognizes that growth and offers a venue for the practice of such modality. I am envious but happy that so many extreme sports enthusiasts get to use this park on a daily basis. Lighting is great and it’s open 24 hours a day. A must-experience for extreme sports enthusiasts. Growing up, my extreme sport was bicycle freestyling.

Lynn Family Stadium

And how can we forget the “cathedral”? For football fans, it’s a must-see. The behind the scenes tour is spectacular. We can’t wait for the day when the cathedral is able to entertain at full capacity. The Coopers in one end of the field and the Morados in the other.

Starting today, we will be attending several games watching both Racing Louiville FC and in a couple of weeks LouCity kick off their respective 2021 seasons. We are so looking forward to those events and of course continue exploring this beautiful city. Until next time…#theGomezway

BTW, listen to the latest episode of Chumchat when you get a chance. USMNT U20 MNT player Cameron Harper explains his return to MLS. He talks about his time in Scotland, the playing style in that league, his upcoming competition at NYRB and of course his own definition of success. As always, thank your for your support to the Chums and the USMNT program through exploring the different player pool personalities.

2020 in hindsight for the Gómez’s

As we reflect on what 2020 brought the Gómez, we must first acknowledge the challenges it presented at the global, and national levels. Last year was a very tumultuous year from a health, social, political, and economic aspect but like anything, if you look hard enough, there are always silver lining events throughout the year. Let’s recap some of the most notable events for our family and parallel (especially sports) events around the nation and the world.

December 2019:

Personal

We made the decision to continue Jonathan’s football development at Louisville City FC leaving behind great coaches, friends, teammates. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end for everyone.

On December 31st, Johan injured the 5th metatarsal of his left foot forfeiting his chance to continue his good form displayed in the U20 MNT September camp and compromising his participation in the January camp, the spring season at FC Porto, and UEFA Youth League. It was by far not the best way to start the year; however, the adversity was humbling and it reminded us about the true meaning of patience, resilience, faith and brought us closer together as a family despite the Atlantic Ocean.

January

Personal

January saw the inception of Chumchat. A podcast project initiated by three former FC Dallas Academy friends (Judson, Tanner, and Johan) and current football players.

The podcast has been gradually finding its identity and gaining popularity; it recently culminated a second successful season. Due to its freshness, it is growing at a rapid rate. Tanner and Johan recently joined Sam’s Army’s podcast and explained the project more thoroughly. You will find their podcast interesting if you enjoy news about the FC Dallas academy, the different US national teams (especially youth) and other great successful guests in the world of sports.

Global

On January 9th, the World Health Organization announced that a deadly coronavirus had emerged in Wuhan, China. There are many chapters of this book still being written…

National/Global

On January 26th, the world of sports was shocked with the sudden death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the rest of the crew in a helicopter accident in Calabasas California. The year was not starting on the right foot for the world of sports either.

February

Personal

Jogo was invited to Germany for football trials and he welcomed that opportunity with open arms. Mom traveled to Europe later to meet up with her sister and the boys. An opportunity well-seized by everyone in the family given what was to about to unfold a couple of weeks later…

Jogo and mom at the Werder Bremen Stadium, Bremen, Germany (02.18.20)
National

On February 5th, the LIV (54th) Super Bowl took place where the Kansas City Chiefs (AFC) defeated the San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 31-20 in a display of craftiness by young Texan Patrick Mahomes.

March

Personal

On March 5th, Jogo was announced with USL-C Louisville City. A new chapter in Jogo’s football development is still being written and we are grateful for the opportunity.

National/Global

On Monday, March 9th, the Dow Jones plunges over 2000 points in intraday trading -its steepest decline ever- due to economic concerns with the pandemic caused by the Coronavirus.

Just a few days after we dropped Jogo off in his new home, on March 13th, Breonna Taylor is shot eight times by Louisville police starting a chain of social events (including violent demonstrations) requesting an end to police brutality at the national level.

April

Personal

Coronavirus forces the stressful return home for the boys from their temporary homes and we had a full house once again…albeit for a short amount of time.

May

Personal

Jogo returned to Louisville and started the second pre-season with Loucity in small groups due to Coronavirus restrictions.

National/Global

On May 25th, Minneapolis police officer is videotaped kneeling on the neck of George Floyd until he eventually dies. The video of the incident goes viral with a global impact of unprecedented proportions. The Black Lives Matter movement momentum reaches its climax and had a profound reach in every facet of everyone’s lives.

July

Personal

Jogo makes his LouCity debut and Johan returns to Porto to start pre-season with Porto B. Our nest is back to being semi-empty but we are happy for the boys and of course the undivided attention that Joana is getting.

August

National

The West Coast fires extend to Washington State in what some may say is unfortunately a yearly tradition. The deadly wildfires burned millions of acres and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

September

Personal

Johan makes his debut for Porto B and scores this beauty of a goal.

Meanwhile, Jogo continues to earn playing time with LouCity.

Loucity (4) vs Memphis 901 (1), Louisville, Kentucky (09.19.20)

National

On September 28th, the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Final. We still remember when Claudia and myself celebrated the last Stanley Cup Final won by the stars in 1999 the parade in downtown Dallas.

October

National

The month of October witnessed rivalries between the states of Florida and California in two different American professional sports. The NBA’s turn came first when the LA Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in six games. In doing so, the LA Lakers tied the Boston Celtics as the winningest NBA franchise (17 titles) in history tying the Boston Celtics.

Despite what MLB hard core fans and the name itself may imply, the World Series only has national impact (perhaps continental level). Nonetheless, the World Series took place for the first time in a neutral stadium. We were fortunate to have it in our own backyard: Arlington, Texas. The two teams battling it out were the Tampa Bay Rays (AL) and the LA Dodgers (NL). They were not only competing for the MLB World Series but for state bragging rights. In the end, the California team came out on top in six games.

November

Personal

Jogo spent the entire month training abroad. Without a doubt, they were amazing opportunities especially when most young footballers are unable to play in any structured way. Similarly, among rising Coronavirus concerns in Portugal, Johan continued to play full games in his new position which is reassurance that he’s doing it well.

National

Some would say this would be of global impact…and probably so. On Saturday, November 7th, Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States among some ongoing controversy.

Global

The football world saw the death of Maradona on November 25th (the day before Thanksviging). Few footballers will ever be as popular and yet polarizing as he once was (and forever will be). The world of football mourned his death globally. His legacy will live forever with us footballers.

December

Personal/Global

On Christmas Eve, FIFA decided to cancel the U17 and U20 Men’s World Cups. It was a devastating Christmas gift for all of those players around the world. At the personal level, we had hopes for both of the boys to continue partaking in the U20 WC cycle in some capacity and that will no longer be the case. C’est la vie mon amis

We spent our first Christmas and New Year’s without both of the boys but unfortunately that’s the life of a footballer and their families. While we are grateful Johan continued playing regular season games, Jogo continued training in Portugal. Priceless development opportunities in uncertain times and grateful that they had competitive continuity.

National

On December 11, the Food and Drug Administration issued the first emergency use authorization for a vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus. This was perhaps the best news to end the year and a glimpse of hope for 2021.

2021

The pandemic uncertainty has not ceased but it’s encouraging to know that help is on the way. Hope is the last thing to lose and we certainly hope 2021 turns out to be a better year. For now, we can only plan our pathways with the information available; in the process, there will be definitely be twists and turns that will require adjustments. Rest assured that the Gómez will do their part…to control, influence and monitor events for a better 2021. Until next. #theGomezway

10,000 visits and going

In its first year of existence, we have reached 10,000 visits on our site. Thank you for the continued support to our family. As we embark on yet a new journey with our daughter, we are always striving to incorporate more educational material in a way that relies mostly on our own family experiences supplemented with information readily available online.

We understand that each family’s/player’s football journey is unique but having a repository of family-based football information available, at the very least, should serve as a point of reference that we wish had been available when we started our journey. We want to continue engaging with you via emails, texts, phone calls, and social media interactions. Keep the inquiries coming; we enjoy helping families/players and will always provide you with an objective point of view based on the nuances of our own journey and hopefully those will help build your own path in a more meaningful manner. #theGomezway

BTW, enjoy the most recent Chumchat interview with Thomas Roberts. For those of you who may not know, it’s a podcast that Johan and friends have which is sports (mostly football) centric. In the third season coming up, they will have more footballers making their way to Europe.

Another emotional weekend

People frequently ask how we make time to maintain this blog. Well, it’s definitely time-consuming but it’s equally rewarding being able to help other families, and players going through similar phases in life as we currently are (or once did). It almost feels like the sense of satisfaction when volunteering our time. However, it’s also very therapeutic. Let me explain…

Most families could relate to the fact that watching our own children go through the peaks and valleys of youth competitive activities could be stressful. The beginning of professional football is no different (more so when it’s double-duty like in our case) and it’s a shorter duration endeavor which amplifies the importance of those ups and downs. Sometimes, we -Okay, just me- treat this blog as a shrink, once I start typing, I cannot stop until I “rationalize” football events. Today is one of those days and off we go with another set of anecdotes from the weekend hoping you find them useful.

The pre-weekend started really well for the Gomez’s with Joana placing second in her cross country district meet. Sure the near win and her PR time were important self-confidence boosters and even bragging rights but to Claudia and I, developing a love for a beautiful “life-adding” activity like running is more valuable…more so, in uncertain times like the ones we are living in.

2nd place TAPPS middle school district 10.22.20 (Fort Worth, TX)

The weekend continued its inexorable course but it brought its share of bad news/adversity to our family; it did so not only in the win-loss category, which in a team sport should have a confined impact, but also in the health regard.

Jogo

LouCity ended its season last Saturday at home against a combative Tampa Bay Rowdies team. The 13 game undefeated streak (8 straight wins) had to come to an end and unfortunately, it ended during the Eastern Conference Championship game. Great job by the team, staff, fans and the entire organization. In the end, there can only be one winner but it’s reassuring to know that good organizations develop a winning tradition and there’s no doubt the successes at LouCity will continue for years to come. Unfortunately, those successes will not be with the same roster, staff, etc. but the winning ways, if learned well, can be permeated to the next endeavors of each individual’s lives. So we must move on and maintain a very short memory in this football business.

Jogo apparently having a blast at practice 10.21.20 (Louisville, KY)

Johan

Porto B had a difficult task at hand against the best team they have faced this season: Chaves. We must admit, Chaves looked like a team with real aspirations to the first division. The visiting team took the initiative and possessed the ball in the first 15 minutes. After that, the game was very even with Porto B scoring the first goal but playing a man down since early in the first half which ultimately proved too difficult of a task to overcome. The 1-2 loss was unfortunate but more so was the fact that Johan picked up a knock whose impact will be known later this week. His 6-game starting streak could be affected. On the bigger scheme of things, he’s one of the strikers of the U20 MNT pool getting consistent minutes so the impact could be worse assuming that U20 WC qualifying remains “a thing”. Let’s hope for the best.

Johan putting the time after practice 10.14.20 (Oporto, Portugal)

Joana

She had the weekend off due to inclement weather in the area but the highlight of the weekend was her birthday. Despite some football adversity, it was great to have Sunday all to ourselves just to celebrate it with her and put football aside. She loved the lettering on her new airpods.

Joana enjoyed this gift dearly 10.25.20 (Keller, TX)

I will end this post on a pair of positive points. Below is a video of Joana the day she turned 4 years old. God knows there have been many good and not so good times since the day we filmed it. It’s always good to reminisce…especially the good times. Pictures and videos help us do that especially now that the boys are living away….time flies…enjoy your kids as they will inevitably be away from you before you know it. Don’t wait any longer, take and record silly pictures of your kids…or better yet start a blog, it’s self-therapeutic.

Joana putting a show for the parents 10.25.11 (Southlake, TX)

On a less nostalgic side, there are different positive activities coming up for the family. Stay tuned and more importantly stay safe as the weather turns colder. #theGomezway

Chumchat

To finish the post on an even more positive note, Johan and the chums continue to produce quality content and their views and subscribers seem to agree. This week’s guest is Jessica McDonald, FIFA World Cup winner, NCAA Women’s Champion at UNC. She’s trying to make the Tokyo Olympic squad for next year. Her journey through adversity is unique and worth listening to her definition of success. She is the first female guest on the podcast and one that you just can’t miss.

Chumchat: Jessica McDonald Season 2 Volume 10 10.23.20

Contrast of signing your first pro contract with a big vs small european club

The summer international window closed this past Monday and we continued witnessing an increased exodus of American-developed youth footballers signing with European clubs around their 18th birthday. American-developed footballers are gradually opening doors to the next generation and thus have become very attractive to European clubs as their ROI could be huge and the risk is extremely low. That said, in this post we are not analyzing the various reasons for this trend. Instead, we are going to try to contrast some of the advantages and disadvantages if player/family is ever faced with the choice of signing with a small vs big club (in Europe). Ultimately, it’s very situational but below are some aspects to consider:

Advantages of a bigger club

The name of a big football club can be very attractive to start a European career (especially for youngsters); after all, who wouldn’t like to be part of a regular Champions League participant club? It’s important to note that the club name and its reputation were not built overnight. These are clubs who have been in existence for over a century. For comparison, MLS clubs have been around for 25 years and thus are in their infancy when it comes to name and reputation. Even those MLS clubs which have established partnerships with big European clubs have been very intermittently successful placing players abroad.

Money/budget

Bigger clubs frequently have a larger spending budget and thus pay very generously even for a U19 player. However, it is often said that it’s the second professional contract the one that really matter$ but we also know that young players/families oftentimes seek immediate remuneration due to the immense sacrifices getting a player to Europe. It’s also important to note that some of these American footballers/families are giving up upward of 150k in college scholarship money to play in Europe so they want to maximize earnings ASAP. A higher salary is of course only one perk and there are a ton of other benefits that come with signing with a bigger club.

Individual competition:

Thicker wallets allow bigger clubs to sign more international players at every position. A higher density of international players usually translates into more competition. To be clear: The club is ONLY going to sign an international player who surpasses the talent they can find domestically. If your player thrives with top-notch competition, they will not only love positional competition at the big club but also love the team competition faced by playing in higher profile tournaments as a team.

Team competition:

A lot of the bigger clubs have U19 teams who regularly participate in the UEFA Youth League. It’s a version of the Champions League but for U19 players. Johan participated with 2019 UEFA Youth League Champion FC Porto. He had the time of his life. The 2019 UEFA Youth League tournament is where Gio Reyna gained the most exposure playing with Dortmund U19’s and all of us can see where he is at now.

Exposure:

Playing for a big club is not for everyone; a lot of eyes are normally on the player not just during important tournaments but even during practices. Not all players can sustain this type of pressure in a foreign cut-throat environment.

Coaching:

Bigger clubs tend to have larger available staff: Coach, Assistant Coaches, Dietician, Doctor, Psychologist, Trainer, Translator, Team Manager, Equipment Manager, Media Team, etc. If this is important to your player, it should not be taken lightly. Having a supporting staff dedicated to the player’s needs could be a deal breaker for players who are living by themselves, thousands of miles away, in a different culture and for the first time.

Language classes:

Integration/assimilation of the new club/culture is extremely important. Bigger clubs tend to have resources to dedicate to foreign players. Johan was taking Portuguese classes at least once a week his first year. Although he’s not yet fluent in Portuguese, he can read, and speak Portuguese pretty well. His team and cultural integration has been a success due to this perk and obviously because Portuguese is very similar to Spanish.

Watching games remotely:

For the families back in the states, it’s of utmost importance feeling closer to their player. Bigger clubs can achieve some level of closeness via their social media platforms. Some clubs actually have dedicated English-only social media platforms (Porto does not). Others have an application that allows family and friends to watch all games: U19, B, and senior team. At Porto, we are fortunate to watch most of Johan’s games and we are very grateful to the club for that perk.

Administrative:

Bigger clubs have dedicated staff to do very specific tasks. They have personnel to take care of player/family trips back home, legal matters, housing, etc. This type of assistance is invaluable when going to a new country for the first time. During the start of the pandemic, FC Porto’s travel staff seamlessly worked with us to bring Johan home safely among a lot of uncertainty. Also, most bigger clubs have law firms available to answer legal issues such as visa, payroll, taxes, etc. Visa problems for players are inexcusable from the club’s and/or agent’s perspective. No player should ever have to go through what Christian Cappis recently had to endure.

Advantages of a smaller club

The name and reputation of a football club has a lot of weight on players and parents when making their first pro-contract decisions. It’s difficult to turn away an initial opportunity with a big club but statistically, smaller clubs offer immediate playing time which is extremely important to the physical and mental development of young footballers. There’s no worst feeling for a player playing abroad (or domestically) than getting NO playing time. Similarly, some clubs exist to promote players to the first team and then sell them. That would be a good player player/family strategy to seek a bigger club for the second (or later) contract.

Money/Budget:

A smaller club has a more limited spending budget; their ability to pay a “competitive” salary is limited. Some small German clubs only pay what’s indispensable and necessary to live while playing for a U19 side. For some families, this could be a big factor as they try to justify bypassing a hefty college scholarship back home with an uncertain start of a European career. For other families a smaller initial salary could be a blessing in disguise.

Less individual competition

A smaller budget limits the club’s ability to bring an abundance of players which means less competition for your player. By sheer numbers, less competition translates into potentially more playing time AND learning to play multiple positions. Ultimately, this could signify a faster path to a first team debut.

Team competition:

In Germany, at the U19 level, there’s a competition called Pokal which is a competition among mostly teams from the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2. It’s a national “tournament” with less competition, pressure, and exposure than a UEFA Youth League tournament but competitive nonetheless. Some American-developed players may thrive more under this type of environment with less exposure and pressure.

Pressure:

Having played for Bayern, Dortmund, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City/United, Benfica, Porto, etc. is a great resume builder for a youngster. However, those are very competitive environments not apt for every player’s development. It’s very cut-throat. Most players need the security of playing week in and week out and thus signing for a smaller club can be more beneficial.

Administrative:

Smaller clubs have fewer staff members that “do-it-all”. Sometimes, this expedites generic transactions wherein those tasks can face delays/red tape in bigger clubs. Knowing the right staff at a smaller club can expedite a mundane task such as shipping stuff from/to home. We have recently struggled with shipping “stuff” back and forth and to be fair, most of it is due to the pandemic.


In the end, whichever club your player ends up signing with, enjoy it. It’s a HUGE deal. The first one is very memorable but statistically, very few youngsters ever stay with the team they first signed with. There will be more signing opportunities. Everyone’s path is very unique. Seek, build, and enjoy your own journey. The aspects of life learned through this journey are bigger than football. That can never be understated.

By the way, if you have 20 minutes give Chum Chat a listen. This week’s guest is another US developed prospect heading to Europe sooner than later: Dante Sealy. Get to know him a little better. Until next time #theGomezway

Fútbol: Una actividad de altibajos

Es fundamental para familias y jugadores entender que el fútbol es una actividad emocionalmente volátil. Produce sentimientos opuestos en lapsos muy cortos. Un día te encuentras saboreando las mieles de la victoria y al día siguiente, viendo al rival celebrar. La paciencia y perseverancia son atributos importantes para lidiar con momentos tan cambiantes. En nuestro caso, uno podría asumir que Johan nos preparó muy bien a la adversidad ya que la temporada pasada tuvo una lesión grave que lo alejó de las canchas y nosotros a miles de kilómetros de poder brindarle cuidado. Y para ser honestos, la volatilidad vivida recientemente en la familia, no fué tan dramática como lo describo arriba, más sin embargo la semana pasada se alejó mucho de lo común.

La semana pasada FC Porto B jugó su primer partido de la temporada 2020-2021 y nos encontrabamos felices de que Johan fuera parte de la plantilla; sin embargo, por situaciones diversas, no tuvo la oportunidad de jugar (algo raro). De hecho, en el transcurso del juego, FC Porto B cedió un gol tempranero, y el jugar de visitante en una cancha brava tampoco contribuyó a que Johan pudiera ingresar al terreno de juego. Johan es muy inteligente, mentalmente fuerte y entendió a la perfección el planteamiento táctico del cuerpo técnico dadas las circunstancias del encuentro. Por otro lado, en Louisville, Jogo recibió los llamados minutos de “manejo de juego” en la victoria contra St. Louis. Nosotros lo vemos muy bien, fuerte, participativo, entrón, atrevido y probablemente debió de haber marcado gol. El equipo se encuentra en una excelente racha con su cuadro titular asi que ¿porqué cambiar lo que les está funcionando?

A la tercera Jogo le fué un poco mejor. Jugó uno de sus mejores partidos y tuvo una asistencia pero su equipo terminó perdiendo siendo ampliamente superado por el rival. Irónicamente, el equipo de Joana había dominado al mismo mismo rival tan sólo una semana antes…esas son las cosas que nos brinda el fútbol. Como familia, reflexionamos y aceptamos las lecciones aprendidas ese fin de semana y bueno, nos preparamos para las oportunidades venideras. “El fútbol siempre da revanchas” y eso fué lo que sucedió este fin de semana pasado.

“Los mejores éxitos suceden después de los mayores fracasos” – Henry Ward Beecher

Todo empezó el Viernes a mediodía con la primera competencia interescolar a campo traviesa de Joana. La temperatura era la ideonea y aunque no logró establecer un record personal, cubrió el trayecto de forma eficiente y terminó en primer lugar de su escuela y séptimo en la general. Fué un curso difícil (con pendientes pronunciadas y súper lodoso) pero al final nos representó muy bien.

7mo lugar en general en el meet de Cross Country. 09.20.20 (Argyle, TX)

Las buenas noticias continuaron el Sábado por la mañana (+6 horas in Porto). En una tarde típica lluviosa de Porto, Johan no nada más estaba en la plantilla una vez más pero en esta ocasión iba de titular ante el favorito FC Vizela en casa. De hecho, el Presidente del FC Porto estaba en las gradas presenciando el juego. Ese tipo de vitrina no se da todos los días.

Johan conduciendo mirada arriba 09.19.20 (Oporto, Portugal)

Johan tuvo 40 minutos muy buenos y estuvo involucrado en cada uno de los tres goles en la primera parte. Su segunda mitad fué más para manejar el partido. Esta es su asistencia que derivó en el penal para el segundo gol.

Lo que se robó el show para nosotros fue la jugada sublime que terminó en el tercer gol del FC Porto B. El primer toque dirigido y la definición fueron exquisitos. Felicidades hijo.

El Sábado continuó siendo benévolo para los Gómez ya que Jogo registró su cuarto juego como titular con LouCity. Sus duelos aereos han mejorado muchísimo, su presencia técnica y táctica también va madurando. En general, está aprovechando sus oportunidades y manteniendo un mentalidad de aprendizaje. Línea por línea el equipo es muy talentoso y el sigue peleando por minutos y contribuyendo cuando se le require. El equipo lleva una racha invicta de 9 partidos y ya casi aseguran un lugar en la liguilla. De hecho, el partido de mañana entre St. Louis e Indy es crucial para sus aspiraciones.

Ya el Domingo, el fin de semana terminó de forma excelente con Joana. A pesar de jugar una nueva posición con tendencias más defensivas, tuvo una asistencia en un juego importante en Houston. Las inclemencias del tiempo jugaron un papel importante pero aun así jugó muy bien. Estamos empezando a ver el principio de algo especial con ella y nos alegra lo que le espera si se sigue aplicando. Hay mucho trabajo por delante con toda la tribu Gómez pero necesitamos ser pacientes y perseverar ante toda adversidad. Sin duda, habrá tiempos complicados en la vida de cualquier atleta pero con el apoyo de la familia y amigos, esos tiempos difíciles se convierten en lecciones de vida efímeras. Así es #theGomezway

Houston Dash (1) Solar (1) 09.20.20 (The Woodlands, TX)

Ya para despedirnos y en un tono más ameno, disfruten del último episodio de Chum Chat. Judson, Tanner, y Johan invaden las cuentas de Instagram de dos jugadores del ciclo de la selección sub-20 de Estados Unidos: Cole Bassett y Kevin Bonilla. Es uno de los episodios más cómicos y uno que no se van a querer perder. Estos chavos tienen una química impresionante y le damos gracias al fútbol por haberles otorgado esa amistad tan especial que tienen.