Category Archives: Learning

COVID-19 & missed U20/U19 MNT callups

In these times of uncertainty, we sincerely hope everyone is safe, healthy and most of all, enjoying some down time with family. We would like to take this opportunity to share some recent family anecdotes which initially appeared to be disastrous, but are proving to be beneficial. We hope you find them comforting and perhaps they help soften the impact of the current Coronavirus adversities however those may be affecting your personal lives.

One of the hardest things that the Gomez’s have had to adjust to in the past year has been living away from our oldest children (especially Johan). Yes, technology facilitates certain things but you can’t change others such as the time difference. Although both Johan and Jogo left home when they were 16 and 13 respectively, they were both within a manageable driving distance from us (if they ever needed us). Also, we would see them at least once a week and when we did, we were ALL HAPPY; we miss that. Nowadays, we see them once every 2-3 months and it becomes especially worrisome (nostalgic even) in turbulent times like the ones taking place now.

Johan being in a country where the COVID-19 confirmed cases climb up exponentially every day, far away from us, makes us feel helpless. Honestly, it’s a humbling feeling that tests our patience thresholds. Yes, we worry sick about him because in the end “that’s what us parents do best“. On the other hand, Jogo being twelve hours (driving distance) away, seems to be within reach if an emergency comes up but he’s still far. In the end, we trust that the Lord will guide them appropriately.

If you happen to have your children close to you (more so during these challenging times), give them a hug, tell them how much you love them and reminisce about life events with them. Go through old pictures/video together. Not all of us are THAT fortunate right now. Before you know it, your kids will be gone building their own legacy and chasing their own dreams.

I will start closing this post on a positive note. Although football is full of sacrifices as some would say; it’s also full of rewards, ironies and some fortune. Sometimes luck is on your side yet others it isn’t. See, in less than two months, Johan has been called up twice for different U20 MNT camps and guess what? He has been unable to attend either. Some would say, that’s terrible luck (maybe so). For the first camp in January, as you some of you already know, he was injured just days before he was scheduled to fly out to Florida. In hindsight, the unexpected additional down time gave him and his friends time to give birth to another life project: Chumchat and discover perhaps another talent. The second U20 MNT camp (in Portugal) was cancelled a couple of days ago and although Johan was disappointed, he recognizes that this down time will present new opportunities once again. In the end, football is only a small part of our lives right now and we must seize each day. “Carpe Diem” Johan until the next opportunity, then, be prepared.

Last but not least, Jogo was invited with the U19 MNT to Spain for an international tournament. As a family, we were looking forward to enjoying watching the boys represent the US crest simultaneously. Unfortunately, the tournament also got cancelled. While that was unfortunate, Jogo is using the unexpected additional down time to continue excelling in his new high school and familiarizing himself with his new life in Louisville. We try to teach the boys that in the face of adversity, it’s how you bounce back that determines the ultimate outcome and molds your character.

The Gomez’s are resilient to “bad luck”, adversity but most of all, remain hopeful that there will be brighter times ahead of us. For all of you, stay resilient, healthy, and faithful out there. This will inevitably pass and life will return to “normal”. Make the best out of these times. Until next time. #theGomezWay

1 John 5-5

Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

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Agent vs scout part #2

This post is a follow up to the one we wrote a couple of weeks ago regarding agents and scouts part #1. With the recently finished Generation Adidas (GA) qualifying games, it seems appropriate to continue talking about agents and scouts. Before we start though, it’s of utmost importance to remind our audience that everyone in football has their own agenda. Clubs want what is best for the club, scouts want to protect their reputations, agents want to make money, parents want their kids to be a success and most of the time these agendas do not align well. With that in mind, let’s try to address some basic questions.

  1. Why do players/families seek an agent/scout?

Players/families seek out an agent or scout because they typically need assistance, guidance or just a second opinion on a decision. Normally, players/families look for an agent as a way to either validate probability or try to expedite the player’s path to professionalism. Conversely, an agent seeks out players/families to gauge if there is a potential match between the player’s/family’s aspirations and what a particular football club needs for potential representation.

2. How do players/families find an agent? Or does the agent find you?

Typically, agents find players they are interested in at events such as Development Academy showcases/playoffs, Generation Adidas Cup (qualifying and tournament), Dallas Cup, DA/ECNL games, Youth National Team events, International tournaments, football online forums, etc. On the other hand, there are some proactive parents who seek out agent advice via online research (ex. this blog) or by asking parents of players currently leveraging the services of an agent. For example, recently, we have had several parents reach out to us for suggestions on alternate paths for their players instead of the local MLS club. As far as scouts are concerned, scouts tend to be a bit more reserved and may not interact with the player/family at these events directly. Sometimes, scouts could be college coaches which is a separate option altogether.

3. Once the player/family meet/talk with an agent, what should the first conversation be about?

Well, this one is somewhat easy, if the agent found *you*, you let them explain the reason they contacted you which is likely interest in player representation. On the other hand, if you reached out to the agent, be ready to state what you need from them; be specific about your questions (these may be personal in nature). We must say that it’s likely the first meet/talk is a phone conversation. Examples could be a request to asses your player, possible progression pathways for your player, MLS/USL/DA/NCAA rules, best development environments for your player, etc. Below is an example of some topics/questions to be curious about. The priority of the questions below is situational based on player/family needs.

  1. Services offered (ex. building player profile, player placement, additional sponsorships, tax preparation, etc.)
  2. Cost structure for services offered
  3. How many other players do they represent?
  4. Who else do they represent?
  5. How long have they (agent/agency) been in the business?
  6. How did agent/agency start in the business? Did he/she play the game?
  7. How long have they been assessing/following your player?
  8. What’s their assessment of your player?
  9. How do they make money?
  10. What markets are they most comfortable in?

4. What comes after the first meeting/conversation with an agent?

It really depends on the agent’s familiarity with your player and a potential need for your player on a club. Although unlikely, if the initial conversation leads to a potential trial in a particular market; it may be necessary to have the agent create a video clip of the player for promotion/exposure. Most agents have access to ample footage (WyScout) so they should be able to create their own but sometimes time is of the essence; and the agent can request player footage to the family so it’s important for the family/player to have a clip readily available that can be used. Put some thought into creating the clip (we could probably write an entire post on this topic) but don’t go overboard (especially with the music). In our case, we organically created the #theGomezway YouTube channel and that proved to be instrumental in agents validating their thoughts on the boys. Our advice is to have fun with it; if not for recruiting, the website will be full of memories in a few years. You don’t really have to go all out either. However, it’s important that you enjoy doing it and that it doesn’t become a chore.

5. If I don’t have footage of my player, where do I find some?

If your player plays DA, all games are recorded. Most of those games are readily available if you ask the right person. At FC Dallas, there was a point in time where all it took was a request to the manager for footage but as soon as they realized parents were using it for highlight purposes, they started scrutinizing and negating such requests. It’s always a good idea to try to record (or have somebody record) games where your player shows well. Look into Soloshot. That did wonders for us. Disclaimer: We don’t work for Soloshot.

6. Does it cost money to go on trials?

It should not cost any money to be assessed by a club. However, commuting to the club’s facilities whether be across town or in a different continent is normally at the expense of the player/family. Once the player is trialing, housing is typically provided by the club. For example, trialing in Europe is very cost prohibitive for families. Once there, the inviting club normally provides room and board. Sometimes you could be fortunate enough to have a club so interested in your player that they can assist with travel costs as well. However, it is typically NOT the norm especially for American (pay to play) players.

7. Once in a trial, what role does the agent play?

The main role of an agent in a trial is to set it up. The agent usually doesn’t accompany the player to the trial (especially if it’s abroad); however, the agent will help setup room and board with the club for the duration of the trial. A typical trial is about a week but could easily last longer depending on the hosting club interest, point in their current season, weather, etc. Since the family is paying for the transportation to the trial club, it’s probably a good idea to try to line up clubs in a particular market to trial with all in one trip. If the agent sets up multiple trials in one trip, it is possible to receive feedback from the clubs prior to the end of the trip. The agent will relay that feedback to the player/family.

8. How long does it take to receive feedback?

It depends. If the club really, really wants your player (and the conditions are all present -ex passport, release, age, etc.), they can extend an offer on the spot; otherwise, they will take their time possibly to evaluate other players. Similarly, your player can explore other clubs in sequence. In general, the agent is the one receiving feedback directly from the club; one can expect to hear from the club within a few weeks; otherwise, it probably means, there may not be an immediate interest.

To be continued….

3000 views on our site

We want to take some time to acknowledge the frequent positive feedback we receive on the content of our site; in a very short period of time, we have registered over 3000 (why is the number 3000 so significant?) views. Thank you all and please keep interacting with us to make the content more targeted, informative and useful to all of us. In the end, it’s not about the numbers but rather about the impact (quality vs quantity) our content has on football families. Our goal will always be to contribute to the betterment of the sport in this country by sharing our coaching, refereeing, playing, but most important of all, parenting football experiences. We are grateful we have this digital space to do so. BTW, the next post will be a continuation of the Agent vs Scout post from last week. For now, cheers and thank you once again.

Also, if you have a few minutes to spare, go give these chums a listen. This week’s episode did not have a guest but we hear Chris Richards is their next guest. Good job Johan et al.

Agent or Scout? part #1

This post is more informational than anecdotal; remember that one of the objectives of this site is to share our experiences hoping that you find them useful in the pursuit of your soccer (aka football) goals. That said, if you find any content presented herein or any of our other social media platforms useful, we always welcome a shout-out. We are better together and supporting each other, we can get “there” faster; wherever “there” may be. We see absolutely NO reason why other families should stumble upon the same challenges the Gomez’s did. We genuinely feel that if we ever aspire to grow the sport in this country (and within CONCACAF) to a world class level, change starts with us together (and not exclusively for the benefit of our own children). It is indeed a competitive world of sports where the slightest advantage over somebody else can be the difference maker; however, communication is fundamental and information sharing is free and after all, an excellent first step in becoming more educated in different aspects of the game. Informed parents tend to make better decisions; thus, below is our small contribution to that end.

Today, we’ll be writing about agents and scouts as it relates to the first time a player/family interacts with them. See, in numerous occasions, football families have approached us with a gamut of questions regarding the roles of agents and/or scouts to increase their football player’s chances of professional success. There’s so much to share in that regard, especially as those two terms are often misused interchangeably. So, let’s start off by trying to describe each one in some level of detail based on our experience. Note: differentiating them may take the bulk of this post and that’s why this is only part #1 of several to come. Here we go…

Wikipedia defines an agent as “...a legal representative for professional sports figures such as athletes and coaches. They procure and negotiate employment and endorsement contracts for the athlete or coach whom they represent“. Let’s start by saying that football agents make a living off of placing players (under contract) at professional clubs. With a growing number of US based players seeking professionalism, domestically or internationally, the agents’ main objective (at least initially) is to convert as many amateurs into professional players in the shortest possible time. Ultimately, a football agent could be the person with the right connections at various clubs who can open the initial door for a player (sometimes the hardest to crack).

In our US youth (younger than 18 years of age) football setup, a football agent, interested in representing a player professionally, often has the ability to first assist amateur players (and their families) by providing FREE advice/guidance without compromising the players’ amateur status (more on this topic later). As the player-agent relationship gradually grows, the agent will try to convert the player to a professional status as that conversion inevitably will translate into a source of income (one-time or continuous). Therefore, agents view players as personal investments and thus their motivation to pass out FREE advice initially is part of establishing rapport and credibility. Beware, most agents are eloquent, articulate and well-trained in the form of praising players; however, not all are competent and/or honest to reveal your player’s improvement areas.

Agents may have different potential professional paths for your player; thus, leverage the free advice/guidance from as many agents as possible, without signing any legal paperwork or becoming a professional (paid) player. Why is not signing any legal paperwork important? In the US, once a youth player “signs any type of legal paperwork with/for an agent/agency”, the player likely loses NCAA/NAIA/NJCAA eligibility (the ability to play football in most college/universities as an amateur) and potentially leaves significant football scholarship money on the table. College is expensive so make the decision about signing carefully!!!

In general, agents come from different backgrounds, some of the most successful ones have no knowledge of the game via their own playing careers, others mostly watch the beautiful game at the youth level, others are active participants of online youth football forums which they use to validate their own player assessments/opinions, others are businessmen/lawyers who entered the profession for the lucrativeness and yet others are a hybrid of the above. Incidentally, their expertise is usually adequate to assess your player’s chances for a trial at a particular club of their choice. Unfortunately, most agents are only able to provide a very black/white evaluation of your player; therefore, do not ever expect a thorough (ex. physical, tactical, technical, emotional, etc.) assessment of your player as that’s not what agents do best and their potential high player/agent ratio may hinder having the time to perform such evaluation (more on this player/agent ratio in a future post). Also, their knowledge of the game is centered around youth and focused on very specific geographical markets.

An example of this is the attractiveness of the German market for US youth players. Aside from that European market, very few agents have the necessary connections (relationships), desire, cultural knowledge about other European football markets. Similarly, agents don’t really *discover* players; nowadays with social media (ex. YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, player forums, player databases, etc.), players are so hyped by fans that agents have become excellent online talent “hunters”. Thus, agents end up competing with each other to first engage the player (and their family) and ultimately route players from team A to team B. Once they succeed in placing the player, it’s natural for that relationship to deteriorate a bit as the primary goal for family and player has been achieved. Let’s be clear, football talent identification is not an exact science either; the little discovery agents do perform is indeed difficult if one considers the massive pool of players. My advice to parents is that if you need a genuine talent evaluation of your player (ex. opportunity areas), find yourself a scout who in general is better equipped to provide unbiased assessment and is trained to evaluate your player in different aspects of the game.

Conversely, Wikipedia defines a football scout as a person who “…attends football matches on behalf of clubs to collect intelligence”. Agents usually work for themselves, their agency or have an immediate ve$ted intere$t in recruiting players/families; scouts usually work for somebody else (ex. a club) allowing them to be more thorough and genuine in their player evaluations. Scouts tend to attend the games physically while agents do a lot of their work virtually. Scouts report their technical findings back to their club (employer) along with a recommendation. The club’s technical staff then decides whether there’s enough interest to continue monitoring the player in upcoming competitions. If the player continues to excel, the club may decide to invite such player for a trial. Otherwise, the player may go into the team’s database. If the player is invited to a trial, the player will be further evaluated thoroughly (ex. physically, technically, emotionally, tactically) relative to current club players both individually and collectively with the team. In general, scouts come from different backgrounds but unlike agents, the majority of scouts either played or coached the game at a high level. That said, scouts are not necessarily trained in the art of public relations; they can talk “football” forever but their interaction with parents sometimes can be awkward. For example, we wouldn’t expect agents to know the laws of the game; scouts, on the other hand, can probably recite them all.

As you can see from above, we have had more experience interacting with agents than scouts. In future posts, we are going to scrutinize the most common questions posed to us and provide an opinion on how we tackled specific nuances ourselves with the boys. Remember that the use of an agent or scout does NOT necessarily turn your footballer into a professional player. However, once your player decides to turn professional, then, the selection of an agent/scout depends on a lot of factors which are good to break down in future posts. Some are listed below.

Caveat: each player/family situation is unique so what may have worked (or not) for us may not for you or vice-versa. Some factors to consider while selecting an agent/scout are player’s playing/academic aspirations/expectations, club situation (depth chart), multiple nationalities, multiple players in the family, family connections, agent/scout reputation, family ties, agent/scout network, family finances, etc. Each player’s journey is different. Above all, select an agent/scout who really cares about your player as shown by their actions and not just their eloquent words.

Inopportune injury

You may wonder, is there really a time when an injury is opportune? The answer is a bit subjective. As you may remember, a few weeks back (December 7th to be exact), I posted that there were some good news coming our way; I even stated that it’d be good if the news materialized. As it turns out, I may have jinxed it all.

Injuries are part of an athlete’s life and unfortunately by their own nature inopportune. Players knowingly assume the risks associated with the pursuit of their passion and understand that injuries are sometimes inevitable and inconvenient. However, that inconvenience can reach new levels when injuries are accompanied by either “bad timing” or “high severity”. Unfortunately, in Johan’s case, both were present.

For starters, the injury occurred right before the U20 MNT camp in Bradenton, Florida next week (that was the good news from a month ago) in preparation for CONCACAF qualifying in June. “Timing stinks” would be a complete understatement. The injury could have happened at any other time but it had to take place right before camp…sigh. Furthermore, this was not just a muscular injury; it required surgery (albeit minor) which immediately exacerbated its magnitude.

On the bright side, the surgery went well and Johan couldn’t be in better hands. The procedure is going to speed up recovery and it will inevitably be testing his mental, spiritual, and emotional toughness. As a family, we can’t deny how disappointing the timing and the severity of the injury were; however, we know everything happens for a reason. We now have to regroup and figure out “that” reason.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us

Romans 5:3-5

In the end, we know Johan will come out of this much stronger and despite the temporary setback, he will overcome adversity as he has done so in the past. He is in great spirits, very optimistic and surrounded by his loving family, friends and teammates. Be patient son. #somosGuerreros = #theGomezway