Celebrate the little victories…it’s of utmost importance. More so for young athletes who may need constant validation from their family, friends, and peers. In some cases, it’s what keeps them going. The mental aspect needs to be carefully nurtured.
This post is exactly about that AND will be very short and sweet. It was about a year ago that both FCD and NTSC played against Spanish giants Sevilla. It was NTSC first ever international exhibition game and Jogo had the pleasure of starting in it. Congratulations Jogo. You shared the field with the likes of Joan Jordan, Eber Banega, Luuk de Jong, Aleix Vidal, among many others…”ballers” of a club that many of us can only dream of watching live. We will be forever grateful to FC Dallas and NTSC for those opportunities.
Sevilla is relevant today mostly because they are the only Spanish club still contending for any meaningful trophies in European competitions. As we know, Europa League finals are their cup of tea and them being part of it is a tradition. What is unusual however, is that there are normally more Spanish clubs fighting for important trophies in the semis and finals.
As for you Jogo, all we can say is “what an honor it must have been to have shared the same field and have played against some of those ballers”. You have earned that right: stay humble. Keep grinding and learning and never stop dreaming like when you were 4 years old.
In other related family news, here is the latest episode of Chumchat. A day in the life of a D1 “soccer” player. Enjoy it.
It is with mixed feelings that we write this post. On one hand, we know some FCD players and staff are undergoing a challenging (physically and mentally) phase in their careers. Our thoughts and prayers are with you (Jogo’s ex-teammates -friends-, coaches, etc.) hoping for a quick and full recovery. God is good and will see you navigate through this one.
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
While disappointed we won’t be able to watch FCD games soon, we are happy that players and staff have started to shift full focus to off-the-field matters. Likewise, we feel it’s time to give things a bit of a positive spin from our perspective as well.
Last year, the same FCD first team, currently in an eight-day quarantine, provided Jogo with the invaluable opportunity to make his first team debut. We will forever be grateful to the FCD organization, coaching staff (Mikey Varas) and the players (Thomas Roberts, Bryan Reynolds, etc.) who supported his debut (know that we are praying for your full and quick recovery). This is how it all went down…
As Jogo’s productive U17’s (2018-2019) DA season was coming to an end at the expense of local foes and eventual national champions: Solar, North Texas SC (NTSC) opportunities started opening up. Seizing those up gradually led Jogo to the game against Lansing where he had two assists (see below). At the conclusion of that match, his football landscape started changing…
First, he was named to the USL-1 team of the week for the first time and more perks would come his way right after that performance…
Second, the more frequent training with NTSC continued. Jogo’s confidence soared and was at an all-time high. In fact, he felt that in the next game (following his two assist game) against Greenville, he would be part of the starting XI once again. However, on Thursday of that week, during training, Coach Eric put the starting XI to scrimmage against the subs which was customary. To his surprise, Jogo was requested to play with the subs, but he put his head down and on he scrimmaged.
At the end of the practice, Coach Eric pulled Jogo aside and informed him that he would be rostered with the first team on Sunday, July 7th in an international friendly against Liga MX Xolos. Jogo was ecstatic. The game against Xolos would not just mark the return of former FCD Coach Oscar Pareja to Toyota Stadium but also signified Jogo’s renewed opportunity to practice with the FCD first team the following day. These friendlies are not very frequent for FCD. See here.
Friday: practice with the first team:
The chance to practice with the first team will come sooner or later for a lot of young players. It did several times for both Johan and Jogo at FCD. Whenever this takes place in your player’s journey: just have fun and enjoy the moment. Don’t overthink it. The player needs to be himself/herself and not try to do more than just KISS it. Such was the case with Jogo this time and he had an excellent practice that day…
Saturday: the day before the international friendly:
I remember walking over to Toyota Stadium (from the apartment) with Jogo Saturday evening to try to watch the Xolos “open” practice. The main objective was to say hello to Oscar Pareja and watch a few of the players Jogo could be facing the next day. Honestly, we didn’t know whether Jogo would even play or not but we were just embracing the moment. “It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared” – Whitney M. Young
When we arrived at the stadium’s south gate, Jogo identified himself as an FCD academy/NTSC player who would be part of Xolos friendly the next day. Both of the security guards were incredulous (given his age probably) as they refused to let us through the gates since we didn’t have any sort of IDs. I believe they were also charging $5 to watch the Xolos practice but neither of us had our wallets as the idea was to watch practice for only a few minutes and return home to rest. When I volunteered to go get my wallet from the apartment, Jogo said: “Dad, it’s okay. one day, these guys will know who I am without the need of an ID“…so we forewent watching practice…
The day went by quickly…Jogo needed to be at the stadium by 3 PM for a 6:30 PM kickoff. Since he couldn’t drive by himself yet and it was a toasty day, mom drove Jogo. Honestly, mom had no idea where to drop Jogo off and she ended up dropping him off by the South Gate. A few fans were already waiting the arrivals of players for pictures and autographs. As expected, hardly anybody (except a young, adventurous kid) asked Jogo for an autograph; I know that was very memorable to Jogo..probably more so than the Xolos game itself. Anyway, as a family, were so out of it and just playing it by ear. A few minutes later, Jogo found out in the locker room that family members could get in for free and requested tickets for us.
With the kind heart he has, he managed to quickly find out how to get us tickets (btw, the T-mobile service in the new locker room was horrendous so he couldn’t get a hold of us). However, at last, he managed to send me a text asking me to pick up 4 tickets at will-call…and on we proceeded to the game. Johan couldn’t watch this game as he was in the middle of DA playoffs.
To Jogo’s surprise, he was in the starting XI which was the cherry on top. However, that immediately could translate into nervousness. To be honest, Jogo didn’t look nervous to us; although he later admitted to be just a tad… Thus, after knocking a few balls around during warm ups, he flushed those feelings out of his system and on he went….
The Pablo Aranguiz situation:
Pablo had been very vocal about the current coach’s system where a traditional static #10 doesn’t fit his scheme. Pablo had made his disagreement evident throughout the season and as a result, his playing time had suffered. In this game, Pablo was given an opportunity to play with mostly youngsters but he was evidently not pleased about that either. He was playing as a winger (out of his normal position).
The hot afternoon did not help calm his frustration/anxiety and he had a few border line risky plays where he either tried to do too much (w/out releasing the ball) or was a bit reckless on defense. This inevitably put Jogo (who was defending/attacking on the same side) on a bit of an uncertain situation. Pablo’s frustration (along with Kobra’s) was clear and only lasted until the 40th minute. In an super reckless challenge to a Xolos player, Pablo was deservedly shown a straight red card (yes in a friendly) which forced undesired subs playing a man down. The spirit of the friendly was a bit tainted by that play. Ultimately, Kobra who was supposed to have come in for Pablo never saw any action that day.
The game turned out to be very uneventful overall (0-0) but in the end Jogo got to play against players like Erik “El Cubo” Torres, Fernando Arce, Miller Bolaños, Ariel Nahuelpan, etc. He came off the game at the 79th minute.It had been a good game for him. Next up was the friendly against La Liga powerhouse: Sevilla.
The Sevilla friendly was another level of a game which will deserve its own future post. To conclude this post, we will reiterate our well-being wishes to the entire FCD team hoping that their next activity (on/off the field) comes soon enough and that journey is as successful as playing football. As for Jogo, he is gradually pursuing the next thing in his life. We also want to wish him good luck this weekend on the next challenge he’s embarked on…. seize the day son!!! #theGomezway
It was a relaxing Saturday night and the Gómez family was resting in Frisco; Jogo had briefly stepped out of their place to go fetch dirty football gear from his locker room at Toyota Stadium in Frisco. The date was May 25th, 2019 when we unexpectedly received a text from the FC Dallas Academy Director…to be honest, the time and day of the week were a bit strange but not unique since club communication had always been unsolicited, unidirectional, and unorthodox in general. On this particular night, there was a team void to fill (an opportunity) and thus the urgency to reach out to us late in the evening.
The text was an inquiry about having Jogo play a couple of away games with the USL-1 North Texas SC team in Toronto (Wednesday, May 29th) and in Virginia (Saturday, June 1st) against the Richmond Kickers. It all sounded too good except Johan’s high school graduation (and party) fully overlapped with the second game. His high school graduation (and after party that we had been planning for months) was scheduled for Saturday, June 1st and we were expecting ALL the family from both sides to attend. Since the football invitation involved two away games, the team would not return back to Frisco in between games and thus the decision involved participation in both games or none. The irony of the situation was that the starting North Texas SC left back was graduating from high school along side Johan, creating this opportunity for Jogo. What was Jogo to do? A decision was needed in little time…
When he returned from the stadium, we broke the news to him. He was excited for a moment until he remembered his brother’s graduation. This was one of the toughest decisions Jogo has had to make. Not only did he have to miss what he thought was a decisive DA game (of three games) against a very competitive (and eventual DA national champion) Solar SC side but he most importantly, would miss all the family, friends, teammates being in town for Johan’s high school graduation. As a matter of fact, it was a decision for which he didn’t request our feedback and ultimately was solely his decision. It’s important for up and coming players to understand that these difficult decisions/”sacrifices” are common in the life of an athlete in order to fulfill their dreams. As a family, we supported his decision to play and proceeded to inform the academy director. A couple of days later, Jogo was on a plane traveling with the team to play in Canada the next day against Toronto FC II.
The result was not the desired one (2-3 loss); it was the team’s first loss of the season. Despite the result, the team played well and as a family, we were grateful that Coach Eric trusted Jogo to play 90 minutes and his teammates supported him to have a solid debut. It was time to move on and shift focus to the Richmond game a few days later. The game against Richmond overlapped with Johan’s high school graduation so we couldn’t watch it live.
The final result was a 3-0 win and the team regained its confidence. Jogo had two solid games; however, after both games, we didn’t know if he would be asked to play again. It really didn’t matter; Jogo had fulfilled yet another goal in his short career and in the process helped the team out. One of Jogo’s fondest memories of that trip was his rookie initiation accompanied by “Old Town Road“. Thank you North Texas SC and FC Dallas for this opportunity.
As a token of our appreciation for following and supporting the boys, we will be gifting T-shirts (see pictures below) to the first five folks who fill out the form below. Note: the email address will be used exclusively for communication purposes for the winners.
Winners will be determined by the earliest timestamp of the automatically generated email once the form below is filled out and submitted
At the moment, we will only be shipping within the United States
Yesterday, North Texas SC (NTSC) would have played its first home game of their season at their new venue: Globe Life Park in Arlington. Unfortunately, the pandemic delayed those plans. Just like us last year, we know many families and players were looking forward to that event but the time will soon come. It is probably most unfortunate for those who are aging out or leaving the academy as that exposure was priceless for our boys. When they made their respective NTSC debuts, our entire experience of the next progression of the game changed.
See, today marks the one year anniversary since Johan made his pro-debut with NTSC and although his participation with the team was ephemeral, he loved every moment of it: playing and training with a different set of teammates (including his brother) and coaches, a higher level of professionalism (including coaching), and of course a more advanced level of the game. Here is how that went down.
Although both boys had been practicing with NTSC since pre-season, Johan’s invitation to play (and debut) did not come until the sixth game of the season. It was the first away game for NTSC. The U18s/U19s DA busy schedule (DA season and Dallas Cup participation), the lack of depth at the #9 position with the U18s/U19s and the schedule conflicts between DA and the NTSC delayed his debut.
All things considered, we knew Johan would make his debut sooner or later and were hoping for a home game debut. However, when we received the news about Johan’s inclusion to the roster (expected as we had had a recent chat with FC Dallas technical staff) we were bummed that it was an away game: Greenville, South Carolina. As usual with the club, most communication took place last minute and under normal circumstances that wouldn’t have left much time to buy plane tickets. To be fair, that wasn’t the reason we weren’t at the game. At the time, I was undergoing some medical issues which required hospitalization. That prevented me from traveling. Jogo, on the other hand, could have flown by himself but he was scheduled to be away with the national team.
Instead, we subscribed to ESPN+ immediately after learning that Johan was starting. As you will see from below, it turned out to be a somewhat uneventful game with a fortunate goal by Thomas Roberts in the 17th minute. The whole game was somewhat uneventful with Johan trying to get used to a “new” team with very few opportunities inside the 18th. He almost scored in the 49th minute but honestly we feel that Greenville should have at least tied this game. In any event, the Gomez’s were thankful for the opportunity and knew that more opportunities would come our way since Johan had been doing well in DA.
We didn’t have to wait long for Johan to score. The next weekend, he gave mom the best mother’s day gift he could. His first professional goal helping his team make a comeback from a 1-0 deficit early the second half.
Here is a picture of Johan and proud mom after the game:
A lot of things have changed for NTSC and Johan in the past year; regardless of the direction each has taken, Johan and family have very fond memories of our time there. More importantly, the friendships will last forever. Thank you NTSC and FC Dallas.
¡Buena chavos! Jogo, tu participación en la obtención del campeonato resultó fundamental; la asistencia (a la asistencia) resultó en el gol ganador y que decir de la salvada en la segunda mitad que contó por lo menos por un gol y medio.
Sin embargo, el momento de más orgullo en la familia durante esta temporada llegó el día en que ambos Jogos compartieron el campo en Toronto. El tiempo fue efimero pero muy especial.
La familia Gómez siempre le estará eternamente agradecida a la organización del FC Dallas por estas oportunidades brindadas a los chicos. ¡Felicitaciones a los dos por esta temporada tan exitosa! #TheGomezway.
Way to go kiddos. Jogo, your participation during the season, but more so, in the championship game proved instrumental to the victory. The hockey assist resulted in the winning goal and the save in the second half counted for at least a goal and a half. Congratulations.
Overall, the family’s proudest moment of the season came the day when both Jogos shared the field in Toronto. The family will eternally be grateful to the FC Dallas organization for these opportunities provided to the boys. Congratulations to both of you on a successful season. #TheGomezway.