Category Archives: Learning

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.

3v3: valuable football development tool

Last week we were observing Joana’s final football practice of the year. Since most players were already out for the holidays, the session consisted mostly of 3v3 play with players from other teams participating. The girls seemingly had a blast and it brought back so many memories. It then became tempting to write about 3v3 as a football development tool like we did with futsal.

Just like other tools which include indoor soccer, private training (i.e. Coerver), Olympic Development Program (ODP), “the wall”, street football, beach football, football tennis, etc. they all have their unique usefulness. In the future, we may also write about those. Today, we will be writing about 3v3 and its advantages and disadvantages as used extensively by our boys.

For those unfamiliar with 3v3. It’s a small-sided variation of football where 3 players take on the opponent’s 3 with no goalkeeper. For a better definition including its rules, check 3v3 Wikipedia’s page. It’s the fastest growing form of the sport in the United States. Our boys played small-sided A LOT (concurrently with “outdoor” football, futsal, etc.) for several years; it not only aided in their football development in a fun environment, but also provided a platform to compete at a high level at an early age. For parents with young kids interested in football, you may find this post useful. BTW, thank you Quickfoot, Kick it 3v3, Live 3v3, and many other organizations. We had a blast and the memories are countless.

He’s been “Jogo” for over a decade -la bola siempre al diez- 01.19.13 (Orlando, FL)

The start

The year was 2010 and we knew that one (sometimes two) practices a week at Solar for Johan were not enough to quench his football thirst. His desire to knock the ball around was just too frequent. We had played, coached and officiated the game all our lives; ironically, we had never coached 3v3 competitively (only rec.). It seemed fun so we said, “what’s the worst that could happen?”. And on we went to participate in Quickfoot’s 3v3 at Keller High School. We coached both Johan’s 4v4 and Jogo’s 3v3 with very little preparation and picking players from their current club teams. The outcome? Johan’s team won while Jogo’s earned second…the seed was planted from then on.

Orlando

The tournaments in Texas became frequent and the competition was excellent. It gave us an adequate amount of preparation, and confidence to want to take our teams to higher level competitions. We participated at the national level in Orlando three times. Jogo’s team (MOB) went on to win the 3v3 national championship in 2013, our team (La Banda) won third place in 2014 and (MOB) reached the quarter finals in 2015 playing up. Johan’s team only participated once and took 3rd place in 2014. We had the pleasure of meeting many future YNT players at these 3v3 competitions.

Oftentimes, positive results build confidence and perpetuate a love for the game and that’s what we achieved with that group of boys. As of now, every single one of them will be playing college soccer or playing football professionally. We will always be very proud of this group of players and grateful to their parents for allowing us to coach them. We built something special together which has transcended the football field. That said, here are few things we learned along the way…

Advantages

More touches on the ball

Smaller rosters naturally translate into more touches on the ball. We typically carried 5 or the maximum-allowed of 6 players to maximize time on the ball. All players had about the same technical and tactical level and played an equal amount of time.

Technical aptitude and tactical awareness

Technical aptitude is enhanced by the amount of repetitions generated by smaller rosters. Specifically, muscle memory in a competitive environment is gradually developed to the point of normalcy; it ultimately leads to higher confidence and creativity on the ball. For example, if you have a player who likes to dribble, 3v3 has a ton of space for them to hone that technical skill, become proficient at it, and try out new skills.

Even though it’s a small sided competition, players are tasked to cover a lot of ground which teaches them accountability: play offense and defense simultaneously. The game requires constant decision making by the use of imaginary geometric triangles on the field to figure out ways to outnumber the opponent in order to create scoring opportunities. Players not only learn tactical (positional) awareness but also movement off the ball which can be extrapolated naturally to a normal size football field.

Cost

Of all the football development tools, 3v3 is probably the least expensive and the one that requires the least time commitment. It’s typically half of a day worth of short-duration games (normally in the offseason and a Saturday) which is also very fun-packed for players and parents. Sometimes the out of town tournaments could last two to three days but those would normally take place over a holiday weekend and the cost is not significantly higher.

In Texas, there is plenty of strong competition; thus traveling is not necessary and costs can be kept to a minimum. However, if there is a strong desire to compete elsewhere or the “harshness” of the winter prevents outdoor play, there’s always 3v3 indoors.

Year-round competition

The game is versatile and can be played indoors too. Most of our competitions were outdoors but we certainly enjoyed playing indoors as well. The indoor 3v3 tournaments were sometimes played in basketball gyms, indoor soccer fields, or futsal courts (3v3s led us to discover futsal at City Futsal). The tournament experience with family and friends was unparalleled; those football bonds are still strong to this day.

Collin Smith and Jogo playing against each other in an indoor 3v3

Friends/Family

We loved having the opportunity to play with players from other clubs. We now reminisce about those times via pictures and clips.

Not only were the tournaments good opportunities to socialize with other families but great bonding times where we created a lot of our own family memories.

Memories

More than the football aspect of the entire experience, the boys will always cherish memories with friends, family, teammates, opponents and most of all, the fact that we got to coach them. Those 3v3 memories will live in our hearts forever.

MOB WC 3v3 Champions , Orlando, FL(01.19.13)

Style and drip

Just like the players wanted to express themselves on the field via their football, they loved selecting their “drip” (and team name) regularly. We mostly stuck to two uniforms per tournament. All were replicas of the original jerseys and purchased via a Chinese supplier for less than 25 dollars for the entire kit. They were very affordable and allowed us to wear different kits like the professionals. That was another cool reason for playing 3v3. The kids could emulate their idols and personalize their jerseys. Jogo became well known as Jogo via his jerseys but let’s not forget that the original Jogo was Johan.

Disadvantages:

Ignorance/Fear

Johan’s first coach at Solar was completely against 3v3s. We always assumed he felt threatened by the possibility of losing players at these events as 3v3 teammates normally belonged to different clubs and inevitably parents socialize. It became difficult to request permission to participate in 3v3s even during off weekends as Johan’s Solar coach frowned upon it. He was an older coach too but we felt this truncated his 3v3 development to a degree.

Similarly, there are parents who think that football development tools such as 3v3s and futsal are NOT adequate for goalkeepers. That couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Jogo played futsal with what would have been one of the U17 MNT goalkeepers (U17 MNT WC was recently cancelled): Jeff Dewnsup whose footwork was phenomenal for his age. This was probably one of the characteristics that gave him national team visibility. Both Johan and Jogo played 3v3 with numerous goalkeepers whose footwork improved as a result of the competitions. Truth be told 3v3 can become addictive.

Addiction

3v3s are very addictive. They are high scoring ordeals which could be decided in the last second of the game. They cannot get any more American than that.

There are parents who want to compete in them all the time and there’s nothing wrong with that level of involvement. However, at some point it could create a conflict with club football and other life activities. As long as your family knows how to manage the experience and you have a club coach who supports it, go for it. The 3v3 coach may want to define a style of play and shuffling players due to their unavailability makes it challenging to gel as a team. We were fortunate to have 6 very committed families for several years who were as crazy as we were about it.

There are many tools to build and improve a player’s football development. Each one serves a unique purpose. There’s no silver bullet to develop a footballer; there are however, many ways to nurture the love of the game by “making it fun”. As you reflect on your achievements for 2020 and plan for your kids activities for next year, consider incorporating 3v3s into their pool of available activities. You won’t regret it.

On a personal note, we will conclude this post wishing everyone a better year than 2020. For the Gómez’s, it’s was a challenging year in many regards but a blessing in others. We’ll be re-capping the year in a future post. For now, let’s be hopeful, patient, positive and most of all, safe. As always, reach out to info@thegomezway.com for comments, questions, etc. Thanks for reading us and happy 2021. #theGomezway.

Is a gap year worth it for a high school football player?

2020 has brought a plethora of unfortunate events around the world; most were caused by the pandemic. Sports have been impacted in a global scale: no Olympics, no Wimbledon, no Tour de France, closed doors sporting events, football leagues getting canceled/shortened, etc. From a football viewpoint specifically, the silver lining is that 2020 became an excellent year for young American football players as they have cemented American football credibility in front of an avid football watching world.

Weston Mckennie, Barcelona (0) Juventus (3), Barcelona, Spain (12.08.20)

Young American players continue to become very attractive investments for European clubs. Back in the US, that enhanced credibility has had a ripple effect on domestic clubs, coaches, scouts, agents, and specifically high-school-age football players. Now more than ever, they all see a new opportunity. Young footballers with European playing aspirations, vehemently believe their dream of becoming a professional player is within realistic reach. Similarly, fringe high-school-age young players whose aspirations may be exclusively domestic (USL, MLS) are hesitant to pursue “soccer” in college following their HS senior year.

Gio Reyna, Stuttgart (5) Dortmund (1), Dortmund, Germany (12.12.20)

For some families, the decision to potentially forego a college “soccer” scholarship (either partial or full) and delay a college education to pursue the professional football dream is too risky, costly and not an option. On the other hand, for other families, it’s the most logical (and only) step forward as time is of the essence for young footballers. There is however, a third group who are indecisive and perhaps this post is geared towards them. Is a gap year following high school (HS) worth pursuing in order to persuade/dissuade them one way or the other? Below are some aspects to consider.

Physical/Mental

Some HS-age players may neither be physically/mentally ready for the rigors of college soccer or football professionalism. In college, competing against players up to four years older may not be the easiest transition. The physical/mental gap choosing the professional route may be similar in age but wider in experience and maturity.

Thus, having the player take a gap year to continue his development before embarking on the next endeavor could be very advantageous. After all, what’s wrong with bossing the game around for an additional year while building the player’s confidence? Well, it depends. So long as their game continues to be carefully nurtured, and evolving during the gap year. In the process, other opportunities could also become available.

Increased opportunities

Indecisive families who are not yet convinced about the college path and whose MLS or amateur club has not shown them a satisfactory path to football professionalism may opt to take a gap year to explore additional options that could result in new opportunities. Among those options are:

  1. Join the professional domestic market (USL) with an academy contract to maintain NCAA eligibility
  2. Attend domestic/international trials in different markets/clubs to set realistic expectations and for self-evaluation
  3. Practice and play in a semi-pro league to maintain NCAA eligibility, network, and gauge other football options in parallel
  4. Continue playing at the current club to maximize exposure to professional agents and college scouts/coaches
  5. Switch to a different non-MLS club (domestic or international) or vice versa (if not playing for an MLS club) to increase exposure to professional agents and college scouts/coaches
  6. Join a play football abroad (England, Spain, Germany, Italy) gap year program while earning college credits

2020 saw a dramatic increase of local gap year participants. In hindsight, the trend may have stemmed from a shorter 2019-2020 season which caused players to miss out on important youth tournaments such as Dallas Cup, GA Cup, DA/ECNL Showcases/playoffs, National League, etc. It wasn’t just missing out on participation in those tournaments but also the corresponding experience and exposure to professional agents/scouts/college coaches/etc. In most cases, players did not get a fair opportunity to draw enough interest from colleges or the professional ranks which incentivized them to take a gap year. Below you will find examples of recent local U-17 MNT pool players who are pursuing a variation of the five categories above:

  1. Bailey Sparks and Josh Ramsey left their longtime Solar club to give the USL-C (Sporting Kansas II and San Antonio FC) market a try respectively. Similarly, Kevin Bonilla returned from a short stint at the University of Portland to join USL-1 North Texas SC during his gap year
  2. Seth Wilson who once played for the MLS FCD academy went on a series of international trials. However, COVID may have temporarily cut his trials short during his gap year
  3. At present, Kevin, and Seth, have joined a local semi-pro league (La Roja League) for the winter along with many college players currently home for the break to remain active
  4. Cesar García, scheduled to join SMU soccer in the fall of 2020, is now back at the MLS FCD academy to increase his chances to professionalism or academia during his gap year
  5. Players like Johan Guereca and Riley O’Donnell left the longtime Solar academy powerhouse to search new opportunities at FCD academy in their last year eligibility
  6. Other players joined a gap year program in Valencia Spain last year

There is no solution that fits all. Each player is building their own path and we are all learning from each other. For most families, the ideal scenario could be to secure a college “soccer” scholarship during the senior HS year and prior to taking a gap year. This option allows a fallback plan in case one of the alternatives above (or others) does not materialize. If you are fortunate enough to secure a soccer college scholarship, be honest and transparent with the college staff about professional intentions.

Financial

Once/if a scholarship is secured and if professionalism does not become a viable option during the gap year, attend college with the scholarship and earn a life-lasting academic degree while still playing college soccer.

Sometimes a pathway to football professionalism will open up while playing college soccer: Reggie Cannon, Brandon Servania, Brecc Evans, etc. to name a few. After all, there are plenty of colleges or entire conferences (ex. Big10) which “guarantee” the athletic scholarship for life as long as the footballer leave the college for “a bona fide reason”. Do your research, there could be some caveats for this guarantee to apply. However, if you can make it work, the financial impact on your family could be significant.

Current club situation

Amateur clubs (ex. Solar, Texans) offer limited options to football professionalism. Staying a gap year at an amateur club may only increase opportunities to a wider gamut of college choices and not necessarily to football professional pathways. Taking a gap year to switch to play a full year at the U18/U19 level with an MLS club could be very attractive but risky nonetheless. You can read more about this possibility in a previous post. If a switch is made and the MLS path at the U18/U19 level doesn’t work out, keep in mind that the MLS club also limits the player contractually in terms of other domestic opportunities that could be pursued during the gap year. Some MLS clubs are very restrictive not allowing the player to trial with other clubs (domestic or internationally) even though the MLS club does not have any plans for such player. Amateur clubs will be more open to that possibility as they don’t have a path to professionalism.

On the other hand, if the player has been part of an MLS club and said club has not “shown any signs of a professional plan” by the time the player turns 16, the player is serving a unique purpose in the club: filler player. The family may want to explore other possibilities outside the MLS club immediately. Maybe one reason to stay with a prestigious MLS academy is for the college exposure; however, amateur clubs are not only less strict on pursuing parallel professional alternatives but offer more college showcase possibilities since they are family-funded.

Age

if there’s an aspiration to play in Europe at the U19 level as a stepping stone to a first team debut and the player is turning 18 years of age after the start of their HS senior year, it is not worth taking a gap year. The post September 1st (international transfer window deadline) birthday by itself complicates that possibility and staying an additional gap year further delays the move to a European market.

Foreign nationals (especially unproven young Americans) in Europe without a EU passport will find more scrutiny being recruited for a U23 or “B” team than for a U19 side. Goalkeepers (GKs) can find an easier pathway to a U23 or B team than a field player; however, the path to a regular-minutes first team usually takes longer for GKs. Historically, there have been a few exceptions: Casillas.

Football positions

Player positions matter when it comes to taking a gap year. Offensive players tend to have a faster route to professionalism than defensive players. A GK may very well be better served going to college right after HS and complete a degree in 3.5 years. GKs tend to have longer careers and very few become starters for first teams before the age of 22 (a college degree can be pursued during these years). Going to college immediately after HS will hardly impact their professional football aspirations. In fact, playing college, combined with a local league during their school breaks will keep them active year round. A similar reasoning could be drawn about defenders who tend to have longer careers than offensive players.

Football positions by number

In addition to gaining additional football experience and potential opportunities, with some planning and motivation, families/players can benefit from a gap year to save money, travel, volunteer, or do all of the above. Just be sure to have a plan around the objectives to be achieved during the gap year and adhere to them. In the end, whichever road you take, a gap year is the ideal time to think about short-term and long-term goals. Just make an informed decision, have no regrets, and enjoy the ride.

Lastly, this month we will likely reach the 10,000 visitors mark. We want to take an opportunity to thank you for reading us hoping that you continue to find our posts useful. As a token of appreciation, the first 10 readers to fill out & submit the form below will get a free Nike Men’s dri-fit shirt. Winners will be contacted via email. Thanks for your continued support. #theGomezway


What are the Jogos up to? and scuffed podcast #149 with Caden Clark

I will preface our family status by addressing the elephant in the room. It’s been a shocking past couple of days for the football world since Maradona’s passing. There’s nothing we can say that hasn’t been said already. He was a polarizing figure off the field but he earned the respect of most of us on the pitch.

From a football perspective, his legacy will live with us forever and we are grateful our eyes witnessed his God-given talent. Living in Mexico City in 1986, his impact on me was exponentially magnified; however, I first laid eyes on him in 1982 with Brazil robbing my attention most of that WC.

His life becomes more remarkable when you read his autobiography. I first read it 20 years ago when it came out. I’m giving it a second read now and truly recommend it if you have some spare time over the holidays. You will understand a lot of his decisions and learn some about his preferences:

  1. Maradona started off as a defender. He appreciated the ability to see the whole field and the additional time to make decisions. (soccer IQ)
  2. He had 7 siblings living in Fiorito. He had a very humble upbringing but always surrounded by a close-knit circle of friends and family (failure was not an option)
  3. He acknowledges his comfort with the ball stems from spending 4-5 hours daily from a very, very young age (unstructured repetitions and muscle memory)
  4. The worst day of his life…the day he learned he was not part of Argentina’s 1978 WC squad to be played at home. This was the reason he “only” played 4 WCs (setbacks fueled him)
  5. The “Hand of God” goal was not the first one of its kind he ever scored (gamesmanship)
  6. Why did he often wear two watches when he traveled? (loyalty)
Great book. Get it if you can.

I could go on and on about him but onto family matters…as the show must go on…

Joana:

Solid crescendo performance helping your team win another tournament. You improved on technical and tactical aspects of the game that you had been honing.

Joana honing skills during the break (11.25.20). Look up!!!

To us, the progress was the real win as we know game results are circumstantial. We loved the total control you displayed of effort and attitude. So proud of you mamita!!!

Johan:

Due to the international break, Johan had the past two weekends off but participated in training with the first team. Good stuff on both of the scrimmages. Continue seizing the opportunities and getting all the available playing time. Baby steps. We now move on to actual games.

Jogo:

Successfully and safely left Denmark and has finished a new quarantine. He continues to train with/against top competition and most importantly, staying healthy, and in shape during the long off-season. The objectives of the trip are being met.

Thanksgiving:

Yesterday was the first of its kind where we didn’t have the boys with us. Considering we spent the last one in Portugal, it was somewhat expected. We are grateful for what God has given us. Can it be better? Sure. It can also be worse so we are extremely lucky to have health especially in uncertain times.

2019 Thanksgiving 10.24.19 (Oporto, Portugal). Jogo with a football at his feet even during dinner…

Scuffed podcast:

We don’t listen to Adam (and Greg) weekly but we listen regularly. They have excellent football material for US football fans; however, it’s not always geared towards player parents. This episode has a good bit of educational material as it relates specifically to Caden Clark’s journey. Jogo is great friends with Caden and it’s good to go full-circle on a lot of stuff. Furthermore, it’s validation that we are doing some things well, and perhaps others, not so much. Give it a listen if you want to learn more about:

  1. Additional training: mental speed, hip mobility, ball control, center of gravity
  2. Playing for a non-MLS club
  3. Developing the love for the game
  4. Encouraging decision making, mistakes, and losing the ball
  5. Opinion on strength coaches
  6. etc.

Note that all journeys are different but it’s always good to know what other families are doing in the pursuit of the dream and HOW they are doing it. After all, this is what this blog is about.

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.

Moving away (domestically) from home as a teenager to play football (Part 1)

When an opportunity arises for a teenager to play football away from home, there are very few parents who can afford to drop everything and accompany the player in such pursuit. We continuously hear that young footballers and their families sacrifice core family experiences to “chase the football dream” away from home. The narrative behind those sacrifices typically involves generic terms/phrases such as family, friends, finances, education, and an overall support system normally provided by a place called “home”.

But what does that mean? Well, it’s all relative; see, moving within the United States beats having to relocate to another country and that will be part 2 of this post. Similarly, moving within the same state beats moving across time zones. For now, let’s talk about the Gómez’s most recent experience.

Earlier this year, we embarked on a new football adventure and as prepared as we thought we were thanks to Johan living in Portugal and after having both boys live an hour away in Frisco for years, Louisville threw a few curve balls at us.

School:

Jogo has always been a solid student (what can we say as his family right?). Well, he regularly takes AP classes, is learning a new language and overall holds himself to a high standard academically. In his first move to Frisco, he went from a Christian learning setup to a secular one. As expected, the quality of instruction at the FC Dallas mandated schools was significantly lower but ultimately free of charge. On the bright side, those schools were more diverse in many aspects and we loved that. Jogo made the best of his time there and to be honest, he suddenly had access to other extracurricular activities that his small faith-based school didn’t have. Unfortunately, he was not allowed to participate in any of those due to football training restrictions.

Back in February of this year, he moved to Louisville, Kentucky which forced him onto an online high school setup due to practice times. Remote learning as a sophomore wasn’t ideal but it’s what the circumstances necessitated. While we are very satisfied with the online setup our family found for Jogo; it’s less effective than onsite learning which is what empirically works best. However, COVID ultimately changed a lot of learning platforms this year for everyone. In hindsight, one could argue that Jogo had a head start with remote learning when it came to self-paced education.

As most of you know by now, most online learning setups involve a ton of work for parents. In our case, we have an adequate amount of time to devote to that activity but not every parent does and thus, consider that time commitment if going this route. Jogo is thriving at school with an online setup but the motivation to do academically well isn’t ever going to stem from the team staff and much less from his classmates like it was at the FCD’s brick and mortar schools. Sometimes Jogo has to dig deep and be extra resourceful to stay on top of his academics whose activities don’t always align with LouCity football activities. Consider the player’s self-motivation (grit) aspect carefully when choosing an online setup. Similarly, the high school social aspect is lacking in a remote-learning environment as important events such as PROM, and a regular graduation will never take place for Jogo…other more banal activities he’s missing out on are attending football games or simple stuff such as just sitting down to eat with his non-football friends in the school cafeteria on a daily basis…

Food:

Jogo has to cook everyday. While it’s a very useful life skill; it could be very time consuming and of course something to factor into a decision by the family. We are fortunate enough that Jogo has enjoyed the culinary arts from an early age. Mom enjoys cooking and teaches him remotely (makes videos) so it has never been a chore for Jogo. He finds cooking very therapeutic. However, as a teenager, eating three (or more) daily meals could be a financial blow for the parents of a young player who doesn’t find cooking appealing, has a limited desire to learn or for a player who dislikes grocery shopping as eating out gets expensive quick.

Jogo grocery shops about twice a month and it has proven to be logistically challenging where he lives in Louisville. We thank his roommate, LouCity’s Chaplain, and Uber as without them, it would be extremely difficult to purchase food (hot or cold). Be aware of transportation needs as you embark on a new football adventure for your teenager. Will a car be needed? Is there public transportation? Louisville has public electric scooters (Lime) which are fun and practical rides for short distances but just like eating out, using them gets extremely pricey quick.

Transportation:

When Jogo moved to Louisville (and up until now), he didn’t take a car with him. We made that calculated decision because the apartment where he stays is near the training facilities and Lynn family stadium. Both are within a walking/biking distance from his residence but sometimes the weather inclemency make it difficult to do either. As a result, he rides with his roommate or other teammates for football related activities. This however, poses a challenge as there are times when he has to be at the training facilities or stadium earlier/later than his roommate/teammates so he must hike. The additional exercise is great for a young athlete given Louisville beautiful weather; however, 2020 has brought some unique social-political nuances to several US cities, among them Louisville, which make walking a questionable choice and living so close to downtown Louisville hasn’t exactly been a blessing.

We need to find Johan’s car some use; it’s been literally parked for 18 months collecting dust

Socio-political environment:

As most of you know, Louisville has been severely impacted by socio-political events in 2020. At times, it was worrisome to have our then 16-year old son be within walking distance from all the daily protests (which sometimes turned violent), police presence (blaring helicopters, curfew enforcing activities, etc.), and everything that came with those events. As a family, we prayed and hoped for the best especially when Jogo had to walk through some of it on his way to/from football activities. We learned a lot from the past few months.

One would think that common sense can keep somebody safe but that’s not always true. Jogo’s inexperience and “look” sometimes kept us up at night as he navigated through a new city. We understand socio-political protests and demonstrations are somewhat random but there are cities (even countries) that are historically more prone to those events than others. Do your homework and make a holistic decision for your player. The player’s safety -on and off the field- when making a decision to go play away from home should be paramount.

Health:

Other safety uncertainties (not unique to Louisville) that 2020 brought with it were health concerns. As if having your teenager a thousand miles away wasn’t enough, COVID happened. To be fair, we are somewhat thankful for it as it kept people off the streets in downtown Louisville (well, to an extent). Jogo started undergoing frequent COVID tests, and LouCity’s medical staff did what it could to keep everyone safe. Jogo did an excellent job at staying in his “bubble” and not having a car helped a lot. All of a sudden, other medical aspects of his health turned secondary but they shouldn’t be neglected.

It’s never ideal having your teenager miss doctor’s checkups. I mean, going to see the family doctor, dentist, chiropractor, optometrist isn’t really the same when one is a thousand miles away from home with no car and limited support from the people around you. Make sure you do your research and locate medical staff for your player near the location where he’s staying. Jogo’s location in Louisville proved to be a bit too difficult to locate nearby medical staff (outside the team’s) for our insurance carriers so when he returned home recently, we immediately took him to every possible doctor since he needed to embark on his next opportunity.

Jogo at the Newark airport

In summary, there will be many sacrifices that a family and player will have to endure to pursue any dream with professional aspirations…professional sports just happen to start at an earlier age. In the end, any life decision will involve some level of risk; however, make it a calculated risk by trying to remove as much uncertainty as possible AND more importantly remove it from the player’s already full plate. The players need to focus on “on the field” stuff as much as possible.

Ask questions, talk to current/former players, young player’s parents and definitely team staff. Know that in the end, there’s no unique way to “chase the dream” and everyone’s path is unique. Understand that each person will give you their version of their truth and you as a family will have to consume, process, and make a decision based on that information. We hope that blogs like this one continue helping football decisions for the betterment of the sport.

Please reach out to us if you ever want to know more about any of our experiences and the paths we are pursuing for our kids. We don’t write every detail of our experiences for obvious reasons and there’s more that meets the eye. We are always happy to help: info@thegomezway.com. Until next time. #theGomezway

Chumchat

The chums continue producing quality content for the football community. This week’s guest is QPR’s Charlie Kelman. He’s not only a clinical U20 MNT pool striker but also a very humble teenager. Although he never played for the FCD touted academy, he has a great relationship with FCD current and former players. In the podcast, he was asked about “the game” where he scored 4 goals against the FCD’s pre-academy team after being turned down by FCD staff to join the academy. He also talks about his aspirations, dream club and as every other guest on the podcast defines success in a very family-oriented type of way.

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

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.