Category Archives: coronavirus

First family trip to Germany

After an almost 18 month hiatus from European trips, we managed to celebrate Johan’s 20th birthday in Germany -a tradition we broke last year due to COVID. From the moment he joined FSV Zwickau for pre-season, the club has showed him plenty of love and we were there to witness it all. Caveat: this post contains many pictures for us “visual learners“.

The experience was superb. The 5260 mile trip (just to Frankfurt) from the Dallas Fort Worth airport was all worth it. It was a 9.25 hour flight plus a 4 hour drive from Frankfurt to Zwickau but anytime you go see your son, distance is never a factor. Upon our arrival, Johan had just returned from practice and welcomed us with open arms (and a spanking spotless clean apartment). Mom was proud.

Johan welcoming Joana upon arrival, Zwickau, Germany (07.23.21)

Frankfurt Airport

Renting a car was extremely easy from Enterprise; it’s normally very expensive but we found an excellent rate. We made a reservation for an automatic transmission and were given a VW Passat stick shift (which I loved). Driving in Germany is very fun other than getting used to driving in the autobahns. One needs to stay super alert especially while occupying the fast lane as there’s many no speed limit zones and there’s always a car going faster than you. That’s right, I was able to accelerate to 225 km/hr (150 miles/hour) effortless. Also, there’s no passing on the right lane. Absolutely none.

220 km/hr in the autobahn traveling to Berlin 07.26.21

Station wagons are extremely popular in Germany and that’s what we rented. We first rented a 2021 Volkswagen Passat until it gave up on us. After that, we got a 2021 Škoda Octavia which we loved because it had a lot of bells and whistles that you don’t typically find in American sold cars. Both did a great job taking us all over Germany and the Czech Republic.

Aldis

One of the first family activities we did was grocery shopping. Johan’s apartment is very close to an Aldi. We didn’t know that Aldi was a German company so these grocery stores are everywhere. Aldis got us out of trouble in a bind as their setup is very similar to what we have back home. Thus, even if you don’t speak German, it’s easier to locate items and navigate the store without needing to be fluent in German.

Having learned Portuguese the past couple of years has helped us learn other languages. Currently, we are learning some German but not at the same rate as Johan. He’s fully immersed in it day in and day out. Our first impression is that it’s not as difficult as people make it sound. Juan Carrera gave us some pretty good advice prior to our trip: the younger generation speaks English fluently due to their frequent social media interactions; however, the older generation doesn’t. It sets expectations when we were out and about. Some phrases that came in very handy:

  • Sprichst du English – Do you speak English?
  • Ich spreche kern Englisch – I don’t speak English
  • Nimmst du Euro – Do you take Euros?
  • Ich bin Amerikaner – I’m American
  • Wo kann ich ein nei taxi nehmen – Where can I take a taxi (they don’t have Uber service in a lot of cities in Germany)

Downtown Zwickau

Zwickau is the fourth largest city in the state of Saxony. Located in the mid-Southeast part of the country, it is surrounded by a lot of wind farms. Summers are beautiful, and the 60-70 degree Fahrenheit summer days are ideal for strolling through downtown which we often did.

Zwickau is one of the centers of the German automotive industry. While there, we were able to visit the renowned August Horch Museum.

August Horch Museum

The automobile museum covers the history of automobile making in the town of Zwickau. It takes us back in time when the company Audi was founded by August Horch. Note: The first part of the museum is described mostly in the German language while the more modern sections are in both German and English languages. There may be English speaking museum tours available but there weren’t any when we went. Allocate at least two hours to see it all.

The museum is a must see for automobile lovers (especially German automobiles). There are cars that date back to both World Wars just as seen in the movies. The museum is housed within the old factory where Engineer August Horch established Audi Automobilwerke GmbH in 1910. Audi was founded in 1909. The four rings of the Audi (now subsidiary of Volkswagen) logo each represent one of four car companies that banded together to create Audi’s predecessor company, Auto Union.

Stadium Pictures

Fortunately, we were there to accompany Johan for the obligatory club welcoming pictures. See Instagram post below. Good quality, wonder who took most of them.

Start of the season

First game

The first game was at home (GGZ Arena) against recently promoted Borussia Dortummund II. From the moment we entered the stadium, that experience requires its own post so we’ll leave it at that for now.

We are glad we got to see your pre-match European ritual and at the stadium were treated as VIPs. Thank you Johan.

Unfortunately, the outcome of the game was a 1-2 defeat but it was a great game to watch (Zwickau should have won it). It was his first official game as a professional in Germany in his new position, with the first team. Johan had a very solid game. Below are a couple of actions where he almost impacted the game directly.

Second game

For the second game, we drove to Köln. It was a five hour (481 Km) drive from Zwickau on a Saturday morning but the fan support was never lacking and the game against Viktoria Köln did not disappoint. It was Johan’s first game as a starter and the final result was a 1-1. We took the obligatory pictures at the end of the match and coach allowed him to drive back with us. We made some memories on the way back and even got lost…

Berlin

Mondays are normally off days for Johan and we always wanted to sight-see Berlin. The cosmopolitan city is not only Germany’s capital; it’s a must-see city with so much history. We decided to embark in the 300 kilometer trek in a one-day trip rolling down autobahn 4 from Zwickau. There’s so much to do and see, we’ll have to visit it again in the future.

Berlin Wall Memorial

We visited the Berlin Wall Memorial. It’s an incredible feeling when one is actually at the place where so much history took place. Quick trip but educational and meaningful for the “kids”. At a personal level, the Berlin Wall brings back so many -not so-pleasant memories.

Berlin Television Tower (aka Fernsehturm Berlin)

Erected at 368 meters in the midst of the East Germany superiority, the television tower is the main visible landmark in Berlin and the tallest in Europe. We now have visited towers throughout the world. Dallas, Toronto, Vancouver, New York, Seattle, etc. They all offer a unique perspective and view of their respective city. Unfortunately, an due to COVID protocols, we were unable to have lunch at the top of the tower.

Prague

Prague is beautiful. One must reserve several days to see it and truly enjoy it. Driving into it from the north, makes it seem like the old communist Czech Republic with its old coal power plans. However, once one reaches Prague, one finds a very cosmopolitan city with a contrasting of old European architecture everywhere. As any big European city, there are designer stores everywhere. We had an opportunity to visit Saint Charles Bridge, Town Square, etc. It was too short but we know we’ll be back to see Johan very soon.

Return to Germany

If the delta variant continues to spread in the US at the current rapid rate, it’s possible entry to Germany may be limited to non-citizens (us). There were changes made yesterday already (they are revised every two weeks).

Thus, we will return to visit Johan before October to ensure we regain entry into the country and stay with him an adequate amount of time to provide him family support. For now, we left him with his super equipped apartment (nice view), his car setup and more importantly, in great hands with Coach Joe and staff. Enjoy the time in Germany son. #theGomezway

Family at Johan’s apartment

Chumchat

Give Chumchat’s new episode a listen. Johan talks about his move to Germany from Portugal and how that is going. For those of you thinking about playing in Portugal, he compares the Portuguese playing style to the German playing style and sets some expectations based on his experience. Playing for the first team now is a different responsibility (player experience-wise); one that still carries the weight of a promotion/relegation eco-system but one that he has welcomed with open arms. Go show Johan and the Chums some love.

Young footballers need to get a passport ASAP

By definition, a passport is a document purchased from the government primarily to allow its holder to travel internationally. In our case, MLS football and futsal provided our boys opportunities to travel abroad several times but none of those trips could have ever been possible without first acquiring an American passport.

As an American citizen and prior to joining a competitive football setup, it is of utmost importance to obtain an American passport especially if your child is under 18 years of age. So parents, do your footballers a favor and start the process for them ASAP.

In reality, access to just one passport could have additional benefits that transcend football. Furthermore, if your player has mixed ancestry and you can process multiple passports, having access to them can magnify those benefits. With the global characteristic of football, the parents of the player, should try to expedite getting a passport from each of the eligible ancestral countries. Before you know it, football or not, opportunities will necessitate access to one, or more, passports. Below are some advantages:

Advantages:

Multiple Nationalities:

If the country of ancestry recognizes multiple nationalities, the player could potentially be a dual (or multiple) nationality citizen. Also, the player could gain access to additional non-football benefits such as voting, free medical care, social-security-like retirement, etc. as a minor or as a potential adult living in that country in the future.

Furthermore, having access to multiple passports offers an opportunity to: enrich one’s cultural IQ, learn and empathize (with) new (different) customs/habits, master a second/third language, support another country in important world events (ex. the Olympics/World Cup) or simply put, visit that country with fewer restrictions.

Mom and Johan at AT&T stadium (Arlington, TX)
Learn new customs:

Locating the player’s ancestral country in a world globe, naming its capital, or even identifying the respective flag are great geography skills to posses but having a secondary passport goes beyond that bragging benefit. The player could learn a thing or two about their ancestors’ customs and traditions by visiting the country. The passport is not, by itself, going to force a behavioral change on the player (or family) but organically grow the player’s cultural IQ, perhaps remove some American biases, and who knows? maybe incentivize the player to start learning another language.

Master/learn another language:

Having access to multiple passports isn’t necessarily the main reason to learn a second (third or fourth) language but it helps. In fact, some multi-cultural families already speak a second language at home; however, the youngest generation may not know how to read or write the second language and thus passing on that skill onto the next generation could be very valuable to parents/grandparents.

The passport could be the vehicle to incentivize the player to polish reading/writing skills of the spoken language at home -especially if that country is one geographically close to the US (ex. México). Ownership of that legal document may also spark interest in learning a new national anthem, watching movies or listen to music in another language, etc. There’s some pride that goes along with being fluent in another language which is definitely magnified by ancestry (ex. pleasing the elders). As an additional benefit of learning a different language, the player/person is better prepared for an ever-increasing need of a global workforce.

COVID-19:

Recently, when countries shut their borders down due to the pandemic, only citizens of that country (with their proper passports) could travel back and forth from that country to the US and vice versa. We struggled a lot with that conundrum for over 18 months in Portugal.

Will borders close again with the delta variant or in the future? We don’t know, but as we attempt to reach normalcy, having a passport can even be of greater value just for visiting a country for vacation.

Traveling/tourism:

Upon arrival to some countries (ex. US, México, European Union countries), entry to those countries is expedited to citizens (or passport holders) of those countries right at the airport. That in itself is a benefit, albeit an ephemeral one. In some cases, ownership of a single passport can facilitate entry to many other colony-related countries (ex. a passport from Ivory Coast can allow entry into France). Thus, another great benefit of having multiple passports is the ability to visit (and stay) countries at will without a visa or without being questioned as to the duration or the frequency. This can be extended beyond leisure and for professional (football) reasons.

Professional reasons:

If an individual has access to multiple passports, professional possibilities grow naturally. Similarly, if a young player (prospect) has a EU passport, the parents could leverage that nugget of information to diversify opportunities and then negotiate a better professional domestic football contract. See Twitter thread below.

It’s a good card to have and one that cannot be taken lightly. For example, there are MLS clubs which require disclosure of this information on the player profile upon joining their academy ranks. Future professional path projection within a club could be influenced accordingly.

That card can be leveraged by football agents even at more senior levels. As an example, Tecatito Corona recently acquired his Portuguese passport which will facilitate him the opportunity to play in a top 5 European league without having to take up an international spot (now or in January). As a result, his player market value is more elevated than a player without such document.

Cost:

The cost associated to reap any (or all) of the benefits named above is relatively low if you do it yourself. As an example, if one has the appropriate heritage and corresponding documentation, for $165, one can process a Mexican passport in a matter of hours at the Mexican Consulate in Texas. A Spanish passport can cost a little more if you hire an attorney and a is a bit more complicated to process but it can be done easily as well.

Disadvantages:

There aren’t really any disadvantages other than the time consumed gathering the proper documentation, hiring an attorney (if you have to for guidance) and following through with the necessary appointments at consulates, etc. to monitor the progress from inception through conclusion (especially during COVID times). The process is very simple. We have now done it multiple times.

Multiple Nationalities:

Domestically, some people may perceive the pursuit of multiple nationalities as opportunistic. In Mexico, naturalized citizens who happen to be football players are questioned tremendously when pursuing the multi-passport route. In the US, accepting a second citizenship can be perceived as anti-patriotic, or even as a dent to their true American identity. For a young football prospect, access to multiple passport could sometimes attract an undesired type of attention.

Attention:

As a dual (or multi) national player, the attention drawn to your player is immediately magnified by different people from the corresponding ancestral countries. In some cases, people (fans maybe) will feel more identified with your player (not a bad thing); yet in others, player agents or coaches will be more direct in the recruitment or communication with your player to grow his spectrum of options.

Jogo posing with some fans. Credit: LouCity

In extreme cases, national team coaches may suddenly reach out to the parents. It’s situational. We are not advocating a higher attention towards the player being the reason for obtaining a passport. Quite the opposite. Be aware that the battle for dual-national players (in any discipline) has recently intensified and perhaps, to a non so-cool degree and cannot be ignored. The added attention/pressure could be viewed as a disadvantage or unnecessary distraction which ultimately could force a young player to have to justify their final country selection for representation. Something to think about as a parent. It’s not easy.

We hope you have found this information useful; minus the personal experiences, it’s information that is all online. As with other posts, we just centralize it, and tailor it to our own experiences. Recently, we have been approached frequently by different families about this same topic. Hope you enjoyed it. If there’s anything you want us to talk about, please reach out at: info@thegomezway.com.

PS. As always, thanks for the support for the children. We continue growing the sport in this country together. #theGomezway

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.

Letter to my teenage footballer

Many years ago, during those “in-depth” conversations with my dad, he told me this: “have a child and you will never sleep soundly again”. At the time, I thought of it as a joke because my baby sister had just been born, but then he explained it to me. As a parent, it doesn’t matter how old your kids are, you worry when they live at home and even more so when they move away. Later, you worry about their families and it’s a never-ending cycle. Now, I fully understand exactly what he meant.

Spending time with family May 2020. Three generations

I last saw you seven months ago, for some, it may not be a long time, but for me it is, especially when we were planning to see you for the holidays. As soon as we found out you were not going to be able to come home due to the team’s schedule, we started planning our visit. We made our checklist, packed our bags with your winter clothes and other special items to remind you of home. We gathered all necessary documentation having learned from our experience back in July trying to get you out of the US into Portugal, but things have changed, and your bags are still packed in your room.  As the pandemic has extended, travel restrictions have become stricter and more countries are on lockdown hoping to finally drive COVID cases down while spreading the vaccine world-wide.

Our original plan was to visit you the first week of December, we spent a few hours over several weeks researching routes and each country’s COVID requirements. The plan was to avoid Christmas travel and minimize layovers, but as the travel restrictions continued, our date kept moving back. Here we are at the end of February and still not able to travel abroad. And not a lot of hope that we’ll be able to go anytime soon as the lockdown has been extended through early April.

Enjoying homemade tacos for dinner at Porto, Feb. 2020

What has made this even more difficult to “swallow” is that we just brought Jonathan to Louisville, helped him get set up in his apartment, made sure he has what he needs and it just made me realize we never had the chance to do that with you.  Yes, you are a bit older, but you still had to go through this experience last year. You went on your own to see apartments, had to decide on cost, utilities paid, furniture, location, transportation to and from practice. Not only did you never complain about having to do it alone, but you made us a part of this process as much as you could. Our contribution was watching videos of the apartments and listing advantages and disadvantages, looking at maps for metro routes and easy access to grocery stores and pharmacies. I understand this is a process that everyone goes through in life, buy your first house, rent your first apartment, you just had to do it at a younger age, in a different country and with zero support from English-speaking folks and I am glad.  Even though it may have been a bit painful, it’s just helping you grow and mature as a person.

You can tell it has been a couple of emotional weeks and to top it all off….I keep hearing your voice! In summary, I am losing my mind 😊. The first time it happened, I had just woken up and could clearly hear you calling for me “mom”; it was all I heard. I called Jonathan asking if he needed anything but he was still asleep. Then it happened again 2 days later. It is a bit of an agonizing feeling because you wonder if something is wrong.  Came to find out you were having a rough week, getting over a cold and not feeling great. The weather in Porto has been cold and rainy and your apartment does not have heating so had to learn to adapt and get an electric heater going. You didn’t want us to worry so you never brought it up, but I have news for you….we are your parents and it is our job to worry even when there doesn’t seem to be an obvious reason. And even when you think we don’t know what is going on, your voice gives it away. If anything, we have learned that we are stronger together and even from a distance we will try to find a way to help you….ALWAYS. Family comes first.

Enjoying the sunset at Rio Douro

As I have spent the last couple of weeks with Jonathan, I have learned to appreciate even more any time I get to spend with family, especially my children. Working out, preparing meals and having those long conversations with Jonathan before going to bed are priceless memories I will treasure forever. It has been a year since I went to see you in Porto, but I know our time together again will come soon. Meanwhile, stay strong and continue as focused and organized as you have been, all the pieces will fall into place. Through this post I send you a “bear hug” one of those that when you close your eyes and enjoy the embrace makes you smile because you know you are loved and everything will be okay.

As for my family and friends, one takeaway from these last few months…..take any opportunity you have to spend with your loved ones, you never know what tomorrow will bring or how far away from home they may be. #theGomezway

Together again thanks to COVID , Mother’s Day 2020

Loucity Pre-Season #2 starts now

An off we went 870 miles to drop you off to start the new season. It was unfortunate we were not permitted to drive Ricky up but keeping you healthy in our bubble was paramount and the reason for the long drive.

An added benefit of starting pre-season with the team is working through the necessary process to develop chemistry, trust, and repetitions with all team members…a luxury you didn’t have last year since you were in Germany. Lack of repetitions (and experience) should not be an issue this year.

Weekend before training

As Texans, we are not accustomed to the cooler (frigid?) Louisville weather so we spent most of the time indoors. Well, we did manage to go have dinner at El Nopal. Some of their stuff is top notch but spending time with you was my favorite part.

You also gave us a VIP tour of the stadium. It was our second time (our first tour took place when it was still under construction) and we loved what we saw especially now that the Racing Louisville Football Club theme is in full swing.

First day of training

Ohio river in the background

Well, the above picture is not really the way you want to find your car on your way to the first practice of the season (AND the first time you get to drive to practice -too many firsts-). Was practice called off? No way, it’s moments like these that will be reminisced when the team needs to dig deep during difficult times in the season….the sacrifices make it all worth it.

Those are the some of the adversities that young footballers experience everyday but once you get on the field, it’s all smiles…well, mostly :-). For more experienced footballers, it’s another day at the office. Either way, let’s work on our mental fortitude.

Week

Your week went well with some new familiar faces (new signings and trialists) at training which should help ease your way into it. Midweek, the club published this article on you which was very transparent.

Our week went well with all the support from George. We all adjusted quickly to your new setup and you are now settled in, have started another high school semester and we loved having the privilege to work remotely without any impact to our productivity.

Temporary “work from home” setup for the parents

Last day

We leave you in good hands but the rest is up to you. The opportunities are there for the taking. We are hoping LouCity gets to play US Open Cup as that will bring additional games and fans to the stadium. We are looking forward to seeing “the cathedral” at full capacity at some point.

11 vs 11 champions: last day of training of the first week

Farewell

Those are always tough but memorable. We made this one quick because we will be seeing each other again sooner than later but mostly because we are not really *leaving*. Make the right choices, you are surrounded by the right people. Reach out to G. He’s heaven-sent.

Drive back

I always dread the drive back mostly due to the two lane highways and the never-ending construction; 65 to Nashville, 40 to Little Rock, and 30 home. It’s alright but too much for my aging eyes. It’s what was needed to keep you healthy and in your bubble. I’ll do it as many times as I have to before I can’t do it anymore.

We must now stop in Arkansas as the night/early morning is upon us. The Peterbilt traffic on a two lane highway is too much for me. The trip is mostly good memories as your sister sleeps most of the way. Until next time, be good son. BTW, we made it home okay.

Driving over the Mississippi River. Leaving Tennesse and entering Arkansas

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

Jogo is back from Loucity…but gone again to Europe

As the LouCity season started to wind down, we were blessed to have Jogo back home earlier than anticipated. It was great to spend unexpected (albeit limited) time together as his next endeavor was looming over the horizon. In fact, the rapid proliferation of Coronavirus accelerated a few of our planned activities with him.

Training:

As flattered as I always feel that Jogo still wants to train with me, it’s probably best for him to stay active in a team environment especially with the rumors of the USL-C season delaying its 2021 start. Don’t get me wrong, I love training with him. He makes me a better teacher and I hope I can still make him a better person and specifically a better player. One thing is for sure, when Jogo is around, Joana feels extra motivated to practice football and improve.

Joana practicing with me

Luckily, we did manage to get some sessions in and work on some technical and tactical stuff we have been wanting to polish for a few months.

Jogo practicing with me at home

Halloween

He spent just an adequate amount of time with us to celebrate an improvised version of Halloween. It was a fun one.

Golfing:

As most of you have watched via one of the Chumchat episodes, we are not a Golf family; however, that is slowly changing. While Jogo was in town, we managed to go play at Topgolf with the family for the first time. If I’m being honest, I was dead last but the highlight of the day was spending quality time with the extended family. It brings the boy so much joy to do that…in the end, football is only a small part of our lives.

Working on that form

Airport good-byes:

By now, one would think that we are farewell experts but truth be told, these never get any easier especially during uncertain times. We love seeing Jogo pursue new opportunities but the sacrifice is significant.

Jogo at the airport ready for his next adventure

We miss you A LOT but we know that you are doing important things for yourself and your future. Keep at it son. We are cheering you on from afar. Be humble, stay healthy, and we will see you when we see you. Coronavirus is unforgiving. Also be careful son. #theGomezway

Chumchat:

Last week’s guest was former U20 MNT co-captain Paxton Pomykal. Learn about his reasons for playing ‘the beautiful game’ and whom he praises from youth national team camps. You’d never guess. He also updates the audience on how his rehab is coming along and he picks 5 players whom he would select to play along in a small sided pickup game. Hope you enjoy it.

Jogo regresa de Loucity…pero se nos va a Europa de nuex

En la medida en la que la temporada de LouCity llegaba a su final, nosotros teníamos la fortuna de tener a Jogo en casa antes de lo anticipado. Fué muy placentero convivir con él (aunque de forma muy limitada) efímeramente ya que su siguiente aventura no podía demorar. De hecho, la rápida proliferación del Coronavirus aceleró algunas de las actividades que teníamos planeadas con él.

Empacar a veces es un poco estresante pero ya lo hacemos tan bien…

Entrenamientos:

Es recomfortante saber que Jogo todavía tiene deseos de entrenar conmigo. Sin embargo, era mejor que se mantuviera activo en un ambiente grupal especialmente si los rumores de que la temporada de USL-C demoraría su reanudación en el 2021 llegasen a ser ciertos. No me malinterpreten, me fascina entrenar con Jogo. Hacerlo inmediatamente me transforma en un mejor mentor y espero que él todavía se beneficie de mis enseñanzas. De hecho, una cosa es muy cierta, cuando Jogo entrena conmigo, Joana tiene una motivación extra para la práctica del fútbol y así continuar su ascenso.

Afortunadamente logramos entrenar por algunas sesiones y trabajar en unos pequeños detalles técnicos y tácticos los cuales habíamos querido pulir desde hace rato. ¡Quedaste listo hijo!

Halloween:

Jogo pasó la cantidad adecuada de tiempo con nosotros para celebrar un año más de Halloween. La verdad estuvo bastante divertido ya que fué algo muy espontáneo.

Golfeando:

Como muchos ya han observado en uno de los episodios de Chumchat, no somos una familia “Golfista”; pero eso va cambiando poco a poco. Mientras Jogo estuvo con nosotros, nos escapamos a jugar a Topgolf con la familia. De hecho, debo confesar de que quedé en último lugar pero vale la pena resaltar que lo mejor fué haber convivido con TODA la familia. Le da tanto gusto al chamacón involucrar a Kammie.

Despedidas:

Estas son lozas pesadas pero paulatinamente hemos desarrollado entereza . En realidad, Joana nunca se acostumbrará pero sabiendo que regresarás a casa nos consuela.

Te extrañamos como no tienes una idea pero sabemos que estás tratando de forjar un futuro. Nunca te des por vencido que desde acá te estamos apoyando. Se humilde, manténte sano y nos vemos cuando nos toque volver a vernos. Recuerda que el virus no discrimina. Ten mucho cuidado hijo. #theGomezway

Chumchat:

El invitado de honor de la semana pasada fue nada más ni nada menos que Paxton Pomykal. Entérense de sus razones por las que juega “el deporte de las masas“. También nos comparte el progreso de su rehabilitacion y al final del episodio selecciona a 5 de sus cuates pamboleros para una cáscara imaginaria.

Farewell Loucity and Jogo. We’ll be back soon.

Flying would have been easier (even cheaper actually) but riskier for his and our health. Driving limited our exposure and it proved to be the best decision. We traveled 885 miles to be with Jogo and we would do it again in a heartbeat.

We took every precaution necessary so that we wouldn’t compromise Jogo’s health before, during, and even after our arrival. Driving also allowed us to bring Kammie and Chuy along. We planned it well and the end result was the best evidence. This is how it went down:

Trip to Louisville:

The trip was divided in two parts. Keller to Memphis, TN (about 8 hours) and Memphis to Louisville (about 6 hours). We left Thursday around 4 PM and made it to Louisville Friday around 5 PM. Upon arrival, and as we were unloading our stuff at the hotel, Jogo surprised us silly (Life360 is nice). Coincidentally, the Sporting KC II players were staying at the same hotel.

We found a different city than the one we left back in March. But to be honest, what city is the same now? There are many reasons (social, political, health, etc.) for the change. Every aspect of the town has been impacted especially the downtown area which is where we were staying.

That evening, after a thorough restaurant search and stumbling upon a couple of protests with many restaurants closed (either due to the protests or Coronavirus), we finally found Vincenzo’s. It’s an Italian pearl downtown. The atmosphere was okay -maybe gloomy- but you could tell business was not as usual for a Friday evening. It was important for us to support local Kentuckian businesses and we did just that. Thanks to Jack Harlow (Johan) for the recommendation.

First dinner in town (Vincenzo’s):

We all had different dishes; I ended up having the famous “Ravioli con pollo, spinaci funghetti mascarpone”. Immaculate, savoring dish. Best pasta I have ever had by far. We had some time for pictures afterwards. It was a first good evening in town but we were tired…

Kammie and Jogo at Vincenzo’s 07.24.20

First game:

Saturday morning went by quick…we were jaded from driving and decided to sleep in a little. The time for you to be at the stadium arrived quick; you rode with Napo. It was so encouraging to see close to 5000 fans supporting the team in these uncertain times..a good diversion. The game was what we expected; the first 20 minutes were all LouCity’s, then conceded the next 25. The second half started with LouCity possessing the ball and the goal. You came in around the 70th minute once SKCII had the possession again and LouCity was playing counterattack. LouCity should have had a few more goals. It was so fun seeing you after the game and the fans were incredibly supportive. “Normality” had been restored at Lynn Family stadium that night.

Jogo after the first SKCII game, Lynn Family Stadium (07.25.20)

Sunday morning:

The day started late again with a stroll down the Ohio River to take Chuy for a walk. Meanwhile, the rest of you enjoyed the “Lime” scooters. It was around noon and you had insisted on going for brunch to the “Con Huevos” restaurant off of Frankfort. For a Mexican family used to cooking and eating traditional Mexican dishes. The place did not disappoint; it was better than most Tex-Mex places we have experienced. I had their Chilaquiles. Solid breakfast for the family and good LouCity atmosphere…one of the many club sponsors.

Mini-chilaquiles at Con Huevos 07.26.20

Midweek:

Monday and Tuesday went by in an uneventful manner since we made our hotel room our office for the week. The morning Starbuck’s breakfasts were priceless. It was great to be able to work remotely without a single glitch but the highlight of our day was always being able to see you every day after practice.

Ready for the work week 07.27.20

There were no plans. Lunches, dinners, and evening activities were all improvised. Our menu consisted mostly of past recommendations from LouCity staff. It didn’t matter; the most important thing was being with you.

Joana and Jogo trying to beat their PR, Humana Park (07.29.20)

Second game:

For the second game, we decided to drop you off. Well, you actually drove us all to the stadium. It was good to experience arrival to the stadium from your point of view.

It was great seeing you start this game in front of these amazing fans. Unfortunately, the game didn’t start they way we all wanted. The team played well, sometimes the ball just doesn’t want to go in. In the end, SKCII executed a counterattack and ended up winning the game. It happens. It’d be worrisome if the team didn’t generate scoring opportunities but those are present. As usual, the team statistically outplayed SKCII but it’s important to finish those chances. That will come. We have no doubts.

Mom and Joana after the 2nd game against SKCII 07.29.20
All touches clip courtesy of @watke (we owe this guy big) (07.30.20)

Farewell:

You are surrounded by your new “away-from-home” family. In our minds, there is no doubt you are in great hands. On the football side of things, you are also at the best possible place for your emotional, technical, tactical, and physical development Jogo. We have said this before but would like to reiterate it: “You are in awesome hands, make the best out of it”. The family (including fans) at LouCity are kind but passionate. You will gradually earn their respect. We were speechless how some approached you at the end of the game. #Weareinittogether

Jogo’s full family away from home, Royals Hot Chicken (07.31.20)

Return trip:

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to say hello to everyone but we’ll be back in the future. For now, here we go, we embark on 885 miles of a journey back to Texas with one less passenger but with our emotional tank full again…thank you Louisville: our second home. #theGomezway