By definition, a passport is a document purchased from the government primarily to allow its holder to travel internationally. In our case, MLS football and futsal provided our boys opportunities to travel abroad several times but none of those trips could have ever been possible without first acquiring an American passport.
As an American citizen and prior to joining a competitive football setup, it is of utmost importance to obtain an American passport especially if your child is under 18 years of age. So parents, do your footballers a favor and start the process for them ASAP.
In reality, access to just one passport could have additional benefits that transcend football. Furthermore, if your player has mixed ancestry and you can process multiple passports, having access to them can magnify those benefits. With the global characteristic of football, the parents of the player, should try to expedite getting a passport from each of the eligible ancestral countries. Before you know it, football or not, opportunities will necessitate access to one, or more, passports. Below are some advantages:
If the country of ancestry recognizes multiple nationalities, the player could potentially be a dual (or multiple) nationality citizen. Also, the player could gain access to additional non-football benefits such as voting, free medical care, social-security-like retirement, etc. as a minor or as a potential adult living in that country in the future.
Furthermore, having access to multiple passports offers an opportunity to: enrich one’s cultural IQ, learn and empathize (with) new (different) customs/habits, master a second/third language, support another country in important world events (ex. the Olympics/World Cup) or simply put, visit that country with fewer restrictions.
Learn new customs:
Locating the player’s ancestral country in a world globe, naming its capital, or even identifying the respective flag are great geography skills to posses but having a secondary passport goes beyond that bragging benefit. The player could learn a thing or two about their ancestors’ customs and traditions by visiting the country. The passport is not, by itself, going to force a behavioral change on the player (or family) but organically grow the player’s cultural IQ, perhaps remove some American biases, and who knows? maybe incentivize the player to start learning another language.
Master/learn another language:
Having access to multiple passports isn’t necessarily the main reason to learn a second (third or fourth) language but it helps. In fact, some multi-cultural families already speak a second language at home; however, the youngest generation may not know how to read or write the second language and thus passing on that skill onto the next generation could be very valuable to parents/grandparents.
The passport could be the vehicle to incentivize the player to polish reading/writing skills of the spoken language at home -especially if that country is one geographically close to the US (ex. México). Ownership of that legal document may also spark interest in learning a new national anthem, watching movies or listen to music in another language, etc. There’s some pride that goes along with being fluent in another language which is definitely magnified by ancestry (ex. pleasing the elders). As an additional benefit of learning a different language, the player/person is better prepared for an ever-increasing need of a global workforce.
Will borders close again with the delta variant or in the future? We don’t know, but as we attempt to reach normalcy, having a passport can even be of greater value just for visiting a country for vacation.
Upon arrival to some countries (ex. US, México, European Union countries), entry to those countries is expedited to citizens (or passport holders) of those countries right at the airport. That in itself is a benefit, albeit an ephemeral one. In some cases, ownership of a single passport can facilitate entry to many other colony-related countries (ex. a passport from Ivory Coast can allow entry into France). Thus, another great benefit of having multiple passports is the ability to visit (and stay) countries at will without a visa or without being questioned as to the duration or the frequency. This can be extended beyond leisure and for professional (football) reasons.
If an individual has access to multiple passports, professional possibilities grow naturally. Similarly, if a young player (prospect) has a EU passport, the parents could leverage that nugget of information to diversify opportunities and then negotiate a better professional domestic football contract. See Twitter thread below.
It’s a good card to have and one that cannot be taken lightly. For example, there are MLS clubs which require disclosure of this information on the player profile upon joining their academy ranks. Future professional path projection within a club could be influenced accordingly.
That card can be leveraged by football agents even at more senior levels. As an example, Tecatito Corona recently acquired his Portuguese passport which will facilitate him the opportunity to play in a top 5 European league without having to take up an international spot (now or in January). As a result, his player market value is more elevated than a player without such document.
The cost associated to reap any (or all) of the benefits named above is relatively low if you do it yourself. As an example, if one has the appropriate heritage and corresponding documentation, for $165, one can process a Mexican passport in a matter of hours at the Mexican Consulate in Texas. A Spanish passport can cost a little more if you hire an attorney and a is a bit more complicated to process but it can be done easily as well.
There aren’t really any disadvantages other than the time consumed gathering the proper documentation, hiring an attorney (if you have to for guidance) and following through with the necessary appointments at consulates, etc. to monitor the progress from inception through conclusion (especially during COVID times). The process is very simple. We have now done it multiple times.
Domestically, some people may perceive the pursuit of multiple nationalities as opportunistic. In Mexico, naturalized citizens who happen to be football players are questioned tremendously when pursuing the multi-passport route. In the US, accepting a second citizenship can be perceived as anti-patriotic, or even as a dent to their true American identity. For a young football prospect, access to multiple passport could sometimes attract an undesired type of attention.
As a dual (or multi) national player, the attention drawn to your player is immediately magnified by different people from the corresponding ancestral countries. In some cases, people (fans maybe) will feel more identified with your player (not a bad thing); yet in others, player agents or coaches will be more direct in the recruitment or communication with your player to grow his spectrum of options.
In extreme cases, national team coaches may suddenly reach out to the parents. It’s situational. We are not advocating a higher attention towards the player being the reason for obtaining a passport. Quite the opposite. Be aware that the battle for dual-national players (in any discipline) has recently intensified and perhaps, to a non so-cool degree and cannot be ignored. The added attention/pressure could be viewed as a disadvantage or unnecessary distraction which ultimately could force a young player to have to justify their final country selection for representation. Something to think about as a parent. It’s not easy.
We hope you have found this information useful; minus the personal experiences, it’s information that is all online. As with other posts, we just centralize it, and tailor it to our own experiences. Recently, we have been approached frequently by different families about this same topic. Hope you enjoyed it. If there’s anything you want us to talk about, please reach out at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS. As always, thanks for the support for the children. We continue growing the sport in this country together. #theGomezway
Most of us football fans (aka experts) will pride ourselves in thoroughly knowing the ‘beautiful game’; some will claim empirical knowledge: “I have been playing since I was five years old“, “saw the ‘hand of God’ live in 86“, others may brag: “I played college at the D1 level” (applicable to American “soccer” fans). Our favorite one is when the Geography card is played: “I grew up in <insert traditional football nation>…err England, Argentina> or the social media one: “I have ‘X’ soccer followers on Twitter“. Yet others, in an effort to establish ultimate football credibility, will state that they played pro football with <insert football star’s name> but an injury prevented them from going further. Whichever the case may be, the common denominator is the football “expertise” that the average fan claims to possess.
Ironically, another common trait among some of us football “experts” is often that few actually know the most fundamental piece of information: the rules (aka as the laws) of the game. In fact, even fewer actually know how many laws of the game there are. Why is it important to know the laws of the game you wonder? Well, for starters, you can’t either play or critique a game that is not understood. More importantly, it establishes football credibility and honestly, keeps controversy discussions (ex. VAR, offside, refereeing, etc.) to a minimum. Second, it aids in one’s understanding and analysis of the totality of the game (ex. What quadrants are referees less likely to issue a yellow card?). Using non-existent words/phrases like “offsides”, “hand-ball”, “high kick”, “playing on the ground”, “scoring points”, etc. quickly gives it away. Third, it elevates one’s football IQ and if the knowledge is channeled correctly, one can become a better player, coach, official, fan, etc. If not for self-advancement purposes, learn the laws of the game to further appreciate the beauty of the game including the referees.
While it’s true that there are frequent revisions to the laws of the game, the quantity (and spirit of each) hasn’t really changed in a while (that could change quickly). Thus, next time, there’s a desire to boast how much you know “soccer or football”, please take some time to at least revise the latest revision of the laws of the game. All that being said, for those of you whose knowledge goes beyond the laws of the game, there are unwritten ones (some may call them clichés or rules) that only those who have played the game (at any level) would know by heart. Here are a few:
Former player rule:
When a player faces their former club, it’s an unwritten rule that the player will either score or have an assist. Nobody really understands the underlying reasons: chip on the shoulder, stamina, prove a point, luck, revenge, etc. Any of those factors could be a contributor. A recent example close to home, Michael Barrios, ex-FC Dallas player scored against his former team in Colorado’s 3-0 rout of ‘Los Toros’ earlier this year and then again yesterday. Below are additional examples from around European clubs. BTW, sometimes a lot can be inferred by the way the player celebrates their goal against their former club if you know what I mean.
Some may say it’s a cliché but the reality is that one of the cruelest and most deceiving score lines in football is a 2-0 lead. Teams leading by this score tend to reach a relaxing comfort zone and that normally becomes a recipe for disaster. It’s always best to treat this score as a 1-0 loss; otherwise, complacency could become the precursor for an opponent’s comeback. See Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich game recently.
Goal vulnerability rule:
Teams are the most vulnerable in the ten minutes after scoring a goal; nobody really knows why: zealousness caused by over celebration, high emotion, lack of discipline, etc. There have been studies done on it but some may still say it’s a cliché. Either way, it’s of utmost importance to celebrate the goal but hastily prepare to continue playing and scoring again; otherwise, the opponent could capitalize on the goal celebration distractions/mood and a momentum reversal can occur within minutes. In a low-scoring game such as football, you want to minimize the opponent’s chances of scoring. Be ready from the time your team leaves the dressing room to the final whistle.
Dressing room goal rule:
Similar to the reasons stated above, a team could also be vulnerable shortly after taking the field after from the dressing room (at either half). The USA vs Canada game on Sunday is an example of this. Although Canada dominated the US, the solid US defense kept Canada from scoring and the score was maintained throughout the match.
To be clear, if your team is scored on in the first few minutes of the game (dressing room goal), don’t panic and regroup. If a second goal takes place in the first 20 minutes, the final score line can get out of hand and result in a high scoring rout of your team. See the recent relegation-promotion Bundesliga playoff game between Kiel vs Koln where 3 Koln goals were scored in the first 20 minutes.
Double header in the 18th rule:
Everyone knows how efficient set pieces are (over 33% of goals are scored off of set pieces). Therefore, avoid offensive headers in your penalty area (normally from corner kicks). More specifically, avoid two consecutive (double) headers in your own penalty area as most of the time those will result in a goal for the opponent.
Determining the free kick taker:
As stated above, free kicks (set pieces) account for a high percentage of goals. Learning how to defend them starts with knowing who will be the free kick taker. Thus, whenever there are multiple players standing behind the ball trying to deceive the opponent as to who will take the kick, know that whoever placed the ball on the ground and touched it last will be the shooter. Defend accordingly. The other guy is just standing there as a decoy.
New manager rule:
Managers who take over for a team mid-season usually win their first game no matter how bad the team was doing prior. At the very least, the team won’t lose. Nobody knows what it is but the influx of new ideas and the concept that all positions are “up for grabs” seems to bring out the best out of all players.
We recently experienced this close to home in a LouCity loss against new Atlanta United II boss: Jack Collison. He secured his first win in his first match as the new head coach. After that win, Atlanta United has been unable to win in the 6 matches following the coaching change.
Hand to the back pocket is always a red card. In pre-VAR times, there were no “if’s” or “but’s”. Once you saw that hand reaching out the back pocket, the player was gone. VAR has changed that a bit in that in some cases, the card could be rescinded. In general, there’s no point in arguing the red card unless it’s for game management purposes. It’s always best to minimize the walk of shame to the dressing rooms.
50/50 ball out of bounds rule:
After a 50/50 challenge and when the ball ends up out of bounds (especially in the referees quadrant), make it a habit to fetch the ball immediately. Having refereed games for over 20 years, I will tell you that referees, in the absence of a clear angle to grant the next possession will ‘often’ use the honor system and err on the side of whoever fetches the ball first. Weird but true.
Whenever a referee calls a PK in favor of team A in the first half, there a very high probability that he will try to compensate and call another one for team B in the second half provided the game is close. It’s human nature and referees are compassionate at times.
There are plenty more rules so this publication will continue to be amended forever...I should be charging for sharing this information. In summary, while it’s good to educate our kids (and ourselves) first on the 17 laws of the game; it’s just as good for us to know the unwritten ones whether you pass them on or not. No coach will ever teach you these unwritten rules. The game itself will teach them to you (and your kids) and sometimes in the cruelest of ways. One thing for sure, the sooner you learn them, the better prepared you will be and the narrower the football knowledge gap will be between us and the rest of the world. For more useful information, continue following us. #theGomezway
BTW, the next Chumchat season is around the corner, the guests have been busy making some football adjustments. For now, I’ll leave you with one of the latest episodes where one of current USMNT left-back starter talks about a multitude of things. He had a solid game against Canada. Get to know Sam Vines a little more. Hope you enjoy it.
This post is just a quick reminder about the impact that a positive mentality can have in any walk of life. We see it every day in our line of business and sports -football in this case- is no exception.
It is no coincidence. A national team call up can definitely boost the player’s self-esteem for any age group, but even more so when such invitation comes from the Senior team. A greater confidence boost occurs when the club allows the player to participate in the activity. There’s no magic transformation; technically, tactically, and physically, the player continues to be the same player pre and post call up.
However, a player’s mental aspect needs to be carefully nurtured by the people around him/her. Specifically, if the club can afford a few days without the player, let him go but no call up should ever be kept from a player (especially a youth call up). Club staff members who withhold this information, unfortunately, do not realize that driving their own agendas could be most detrimental to their own club. We are very thankful and blessed for LouCity’s transparency on the call ups so far.
When a call up is made public, sometimes it can have an outward domino effect; being in a preliminary roster is also a great accolade. Then, for various reasons, making the final roster cut isn’t possible but just knowing that national team coaches appreciate the player’s CURRENT efforts can go a long way. Word of advice for parents/prospects joining a new club, always ask the question, “if invited by a federation for a call up, will there be information transparency towards the player/family?
As always, reach out if you have specific questions. #theGomezway
In a few days, you will officially start your second season with Porto. As you have witnessed from preseason, the intensity, the craftiness, and in general, the competition is much higher in Porto B than last year’s age-restricted league but you prepared very well during the break. In preseason, you have helped the team by playing different offensive positions, scoring goals and assisting. You tend to minimize your goal and assist contributions because it’s preseason but congratulations on your production nonetheless (as much as I disagree with you on not celebrating preseason accolades). However, one thing we do agree on is that the most important aspect of your upcoming season is that you stay physically and mentally healthy.
Honestly, one of the aspects we love most about the Portuguese league is that it’s not followed by many back home. (Un)fortunately, very few fans really know how to watch and comment on your games. Well, we think it’s a good thing as long as your family is able to. Inevitably, there will be more American fans paying attention to the Portuguese league now that Reggie plays there but for now, enjoy the calmness knowing that the “right” people are always watching your games. As for this new season, we hope it’s nothing like last year in terms of injuries and the start of the 20-21 season is looking more promising. Below are the events that led up to your signing at Porto…
It was June of 2019, the FCD U18/U19 DA team kept advancing deep in the DA playoffs and you continued being an instrumental part of the team. On the other hand, it had been obvious that any path to the FC Dallas first team needed to go through the brand new North Texas SC (NTSC) team and the club started giving you meaningful minutes with the USL-1 team and you started producing there as well. You were concurrently playing for both DA and USL team.
While pulling double duty, it started to be very worrisome that your load was increasing significantly. Sure, the club’s technical and medical staff had never dealt with managing players alternating between the DA and NTSC on same week games but adversity was looming. We were not comfortable how the medical aspect of your health was being managed.
While the desire to stay in the FCD organization was extremely high, there wasn’t really a viable way. A change was inevitable but we didn’t want to just abandon the excellent run that the U18/U19 team was having in the DA playoffs. Now in July and a depleted U18/U19 roster, a new coach, the natural end-of-season injury period and most importantly, players pulling double duty became all factors in delaying our decision to seek out alternative opportunities. Your college coach was always supportive. Thanks Nick.
In an effort to complete a NTSC roster for the game against Tucson, FCD requested three U18/U19 DA players to fly back to Dallas immediately following their DA playoff game in California and play a 2nd game within a 24 hour window. Needless to say, you sustained a mild injury (hamstring) that took months for full recovery. Witnessing first hand the type of medical oversight convinced us that we needed to move quicker than originally anticipated. A phone call to a family acquaintance in Germany and the first training opportunity was setup for you in the next few weeks.
The U18/U19 DA team played the final game with Judson out with a hamstring injury and you considerably handicapped with hamstring discomfort (another interesting decision). The roster was so short and an FCD missed PK in the first minutes worsened FCD’s mood. The game ended as a 2-1 loss.
You flew back to Dallas immediately after the championship game and were on a plane three days later to Germany for some additional last minute agency-found trials. Honestly, when you left, we never thought you would not return home until the Christmas break…and off you went with just a small bag, great attitude, your huge smile and our blessings…
German Training Stints
The first and longest stop was Freiburg. It’s beyond our comprehension how you managed to undergo almost five weeks of demanding German trials with the hamstring pain but you left it all on the pitch. Based on feedback (yours and the club’s), this was by far the best, friendliest, club you visited in Germany. You did preseason in Switzerland with the team and scored in almost every scrimmage you played.
Unknowingly, you opened a door for Jogo #theGomezway. However, although feedback was great, we couldn’t wait to make it work and the international window was soon closing. Thank you Ralph and Vincent for your hospitality. We quickly moved on to the next trial.
This was another good trial. In fact, what we remembered most was that you really liked seeing Aidan there. Extra motivation having an American “partner in crime“. This is the club where you practiced with the U23s and did very well too. The decision point came when they asked you to play a friendly with them the last day of the trial and unfortunately you couldn’t. The dang paperwork or so were we told. Unfortunately, you didn’t have the documentation they needed from FC Dallas. Bummer. I should have read my own checklist post.
We felt the first two trials had gone well and during this trial, we learned about Porto’s interest. However, we didn’t know whether it’d be the right fit for you or not. The news gave you a much needed emotional and physical boost knowing that they wanted to see you immediately. It had been a long summer of intense competition and five weeks of trials and traveling was taking its toll. This wasn’t a bad trial by any means but somehow the most memorable highlight I have of it was the video below. You attended a professional game in Nuremburg and a great farewell from a beautiful city.
You came and you conquered. They offered you a spot within a week of trialing. Your game was more apt to their needs and your development. You were supposed to return home after you signed but the U20 camp kept you in Europe. In hindsight, you made the right choice by attending the first U20 MNT camp in Slovaniaas you scored your first international goal.
You ended up joining Porto after the third game of the season, without much of a pre-season and with a soared hamstring. Since you never came home after you left in July. I had to take your additional personal stuff to Portugal in late September. Few will ever know the behind the scenes sacrifices, even fewer will ever care, some may just care that you score goals. C’est la vie mon ami.
Mallorca opened its doors for you from just looking at your impressive stats and some DA clips right after the Porto trial. They made an offer hard to turn down but the Akil Watts situation was fresh. Honestly, Spain would have been excellent for your football profile and maybe still a future option; however, the project at Porto was more appealing at the time.
The other factor that may have influenced Porto’s selection over Mallorca was this statement by Porto’s technical staff:
I remember being at work when you called. It was the sic “bestest” news. I wanted to scream and cry at the same time. Only we knew the struggles (financial, emotional, physical, etc.) to get you to Germany. We knew how important this was to you and we also know that you couldn’t have landed at a better developmental place. Unfortunately (for your family), they signed you right away and we couldn’t make it out there. In hindsight, I should have tried harder. I promise you I’ll be there for the next one…which is the one that counts.
Your Porto B preseason went well. You have been directly impacting each scrimmage. You have become an instrumental part of Coach Rui’s lineup. As you said, scrimmages are just that. As your family, we are proud of your accomplishments no matter how small (or big) so it’s hard to not celebrate your honors. We know you have big dreams but playing for Porto is no joke. Celebrate the small victories son. That said, we care more that you are staying physically and mentally healthy and of course that your are optimizing your opportunities. #Carpediem
Good luck on the next game and see you soon son. Your family loves you. Nunca olvides de donde vienes ni a donde vas pero siempre paso a paso. #buscalaforma #theGomezway
Gone are the days when all that was needed for a tryout/trial/training opportunity with another club was a ball, shin guards, cleats, water bottle, and a great attitude. The overall objective remains the same: to impress the host club enough to pique current/future interest in you or better yet immediately open up a door.
The key to increasing the chances of success is good planning and nowadays that’s more probable with the proliferation of online information -like this blog. Keep in mind that as the player age increases, the importance of a successful tryout/trial/training opportunity magnifies and the room for error decreases. When it comes to tryouts/trials/training opportunities, second chances are rare (Chris Richards was very fortunate in the FC Dallas setup).
Note: For the sake of this post the terms trial and tryout will be used interchangeably.
Note II: This publication does not detail the technical, tactical criteria a hosting club will be looking for. There are websites who can help with that information.
Note III: The underlying assumption of this post is that the current club is aware (permission needed or not) of your intentions to pursue the trial/training opportunity with a new club. Thus, we are not addressing that process in this post. We could write several pages about our (and others’) experience but we will spare you the details for now.
Before we start presenting additional information, let’s define some terms:
Trial/tryout: An opportunity to train and showcase your talent with another (other than the current club). Let’s call the other club, the host club. Positive outcome from a trial/tryout could result in an immediate invitation to join the host club. Trials/tryouts have no cost to the player or the family (other than transportation to/from host club). A trial/tryout can be either openly promoted by the host club or solicited by the player/family/agent.
Training opportunity: An opportunity to train and showcase your talent with a host club. Positive outcome from a training opportunity does NOT usually result in an immediate invitation to join the host club. Some think of training opportunities as resume builders. Although most training opportunities have no cost (other than transportation to/from hosting club), some could have a high price tag. Training opportunities are great ways to experience the host club culture and learn their methodologies. A training opportunity is normally solicited by the player/agent and can result in a future trial/tryout. Training opportunities are in general more relaxed than trials/tryouts.
There’s so much to share and thus this post will be broken into two parts. The first part will be geared exclusively to domestic trials/training opportunities. Similarly, the second post (coming out early next week) will be exclusively about international trials. The assumption will be that most (if not ALL) the information that is included in the domestic trials post will be applicable for international trials as well. Our boys have participated in both a few times so we have gained some valuable experience and we are hoping you can leverage it.
Domestic trials/training opportunities could take place literally across town or across states in the US. Either way, preparation is important. Find out specifics about the event, club, gear and any football unique information that could either give you an advantage or make up for a handicap you inherently have.
Purpose of the event: Is the trial/training opportunity solicited (initiated by you/agent) or unsolicited (invitation by the club)? As obvious as this may seem, oftentimes, these are setup by 3rd parties (ex. agents, scouts, clubs, etc.) and it’s important to understand the purpose. If unsolicited, is it a training stint only or a trial? The answer to this question is extremely important in your aspirations and expectations as positive outcome may also require a quick response from the family if a permanent invitation is extended. If it’s a trial, expect a a club decision to be made at the end of the duration of the trial.
Duration of trial/training: How long will the event last? If a decision by the club is needed, how soon is one expected and how will that be communicated to you? Best case duration (if the host club likes you) or worst case scenario (if the host club doesn’t). It’s important to understand the duration as it may have an impact on other trials/training opportunities you have already lined up. At the very least, you should know the duration of the event to start planning an itinerary around it.
Itinerary: Depending on the formality of the trial/training opportunity, you should expect some sort of itinerary from the host club. If none is provided, request one (from the club/agent) to have a minimum set of expectations. You will need some form of itinerary to at least plan for transportation to/from the event.
Location: Once you receive an itinerary, create your own itinerary that is tailored around theirs. Allow some buffer as those itineraries are very flexible. Become familiar with the city, transportation, etc. especially if it requires an overnight stay in an area new to you. Also, prepare the necessary gear for the weather of the city where the trial/training opportunity will take place.
Gear/personal equipment information:
Find out what clothing/uniform/footwear you need to wear for the trial/training opportunity. The last thing you want is to stand out for the wrong reasons. Sometimes, the host club will facilitate some gear needed for training/scrimmages/etc. However, don’t assume this will be the case. Also, check the weather ahead of time for the entire duration of the event.
Clothing: Depending on the weather, you may need extra layers. It is important for you to be comfortable. Also, find out the clothing brand the club uses, you don’t want to show up using a non-sponsored brand or the wrong colors (ex. you can’t show up wearing any FC Dallas gear at a Solar tryout -unforgivable-).
Footwear: The host club will not supply cleats, runners or slides; bring two pairs of cleats: one for soft and another one for firm ground. Similarly, bring a pair of runners and a pair of slides to relax your feet.
Other equipment: The host club will not provide shinguards, gloves, etc. In a bind, they may do so but you don’t want to look unprepared at any point.
Recovery equipment: If you use a foam roller, pack a small one. Similarly, pack some strength bands.
Water container: Bring a water container that you can fill up anywhere. Hydration is key but more so during these short, intense time windows. A water container also prevents the need to be buying disposable water bottles.
First aid essentials: Band-aids, Neosporin, Bengay, etc. if allowed on the plane and of course any medication.
Sunblock: Don’t assume anything will be provided or that you can just borrow it or go purchase it last minute.
Hygiene: Bring wipes and/or hand sanitizer especially in these uncertain times
Laundry services: Ask about laundry services or locate a laundry service near the place where you will be staying. Worst case, bring small detergent pockets and wash gear in hotel/dorm.
Notebook: Take a little notebook to write a mini-diary. It will help you remember names, activities and at the very least, years from now, it will bring back memories. Don’t forget to bring a writing utensil too.
As stated earlier, we are not going to suggest the technical or tactical concepts that are good to possess. Clubs look at different things based on age, position they are looking for, etc. However, assume that if the host club is willing to give you an opportunity, they have at least watched a clip of you and you have what it takes. The items below are less about the practical football side of the trial/training opportunity and more about the theoretical side of it.
Club info: Do your research on the club: history, if in season, current table standing of the first team, training and playing facilities, coaching staff, youth development, etc. Knowing some club facts always makes for good conversation/ice breaker with other players, coaching staff and establishes your credibility/readiness.
Facilities: If the host club has a stadium, find out its name. If they don’t have a stadium, find out as much as you can about their training facilities.
Coaching staff: It’s recommended to do some research on the coaching staff as well. This will help you assimilate their learning methodology and their expectations of you. If you can reach out to a player who is already part of that host club, prior to your arrival, you will be better prepared.
Players: It’s best to arrive knowing some professional and youth players names. It will expedite the integration and assimilation of the club culture and values. At the very least, it makes for a more comfortable conversation.
Video clips: Watch game film of the host club teams which is readily available online. If you have an agent, request clips or just search YouTube.
Youth development: Are there academy players promoted to the first team? In your age group? Are they playing regularly? Are they playing your natural position?
Positions in need: Are there positions the club/team needs? What is the current depth chart including total roster size and expected signings for the same position? If you don’t get a spot in the position you want, is there a chance you can make it in another position?
Formation: What formation does the current coach play? Is there a style of play/formation the club likes to play? How do you fit in that formation?
Confidence: Introduce yourself to the coaching staff and players as soon as you arrive. Be confident with a firm handshake, make eye contact, but be humble too.
Humbleness: The goal is to impress in many areas but be humble if you have managed to impress. If you perform well, be a good winner but if you don’t, avoid sourness. Enjoy this unique time, smile at all times.
Enjoyment: Be grateful for the opportunity but also display resilience at all times. Everyone appreciates the extra effort. Be a good listener above all.
Active listener: Keep an open mind, it’s likely the host club will do some things differently than your current club. You will learn new ways to do things you thought you already knew how to do. Always be a great listener, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and more importantly keep an open mind.
Punctuality: Be early to ALL team activities. Being early provides an invaluable chance to chat with staff or help out with setup. Volunteer as much as you can. Make sure they really get to know you and not just your jersey number.
We’ll be adding more items to this list. The window for domestic club transfers is mostly open during the summer but in practice trials/training opportunities can happen year round. On the other hand, the window for international transfers is still wide open and because of the pandemic, varies by country. I’ll be posting specific items for international trials/training opportunities later in the week. Stay tuned.
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’s that time of the year where families have to make decisions where they want their players to play for the 20-21 season. Unfortunately, with the recent announcement of the US soccer federation controlled Development Academy (DA) league suspending operations, there is uncertainty about where talented young players will play next season (and beyond). Some former DA amateur (non-MLS) clubs have already formed a new league called Girls Academy (GA), other former DA amateur (non-MLS) clubs migrated to the Elite Club National League (ECNL), the rest of the amateur clubs will try out the new MLS Academy league and as expected, all MLS academies will stay in the new league. That said, for the sake of this post, let’s call the next version of the MLS controlled league “DA 2.0” which is boys’/men’s centric.
If your teenager is talented enough to play at the new DA 2.0 level (this is subjective based on who is assessing him/her) but hasn’t joined yet, this post may be for you. Let’s start by stating that as a league, the talent level in the former DA was likely higher than any other national league (at least on the boys’ side). Unfortunately, we cannot (and will not) make that same assumption with DA 2.0 since:
It’s a new league, with a new organization presiding over it.
MLS (the new organization presiding over it) has a ton of experience managing an adult league; however, no experience managing youth development leagues including non-MLS teams. There will be a steep learning curve.
A significant number of important competitive amateur clubs parted ways with DA 2.0 and joined ECNL as soon as DA 2.0 was announced.
DA 2.0 just opened the application process to recruit additional “elite level” clubs. The deadline to apply is July 17th, just over a month before the beginning of the first games.
Most important of all, the pandemic has left very little time for trial and error with DA 2.0. The clock is ticking and very little information has been made public about it.
Last but not least, DA already had its share of improvement areas which automatically become reasons to doubt DA 2.0 robustness in its inaugural season.
Also, it’s worth noting that historically, we have seen some unique individual talent who never set foot in the former DA league (Keaton Parks in Dallas, José Gallegos in San Antonio, etc.). Thus DA 2.0 will continue to not be an “all-best talent” league; however, the great news is that young talented players will continue to find alternate channels to rise to the top and become successful footballers.
In the end, we believe that the most important aspect of youth football development is finding a good/caring coach who fosters individual and team “growth mindset” environments where trust is the foundation of it all and one who creates a “winning” culture. If both of those are present, there’s no reason to seek greener pastures. In our opinion, seeking a more competitive (results based) league/club should be the last resort unless your player is bossing his/her current league. Whatever the reason may be, to each their own…and ’tis the season to look for greener grass.
Thus, as a decision to seek a move to the DA 2.0 (MLS or amateur club) becomes inevitable, there are several factors to take into account. Those typically involve player’s age, the player’s/family’s primary residence, gender, player/family aspirations, ancestry, etc. We will try to break down some of those factors in this post; however, there’s just too much to describe in one post.
If the player is under 14 years of age, there’s little benefit to jump on the DA 2.0 wagon. From the limited information available, DA 2.0 will have 5 age groups: U13, U14, U15, U17, and U19. The U13, U14, and U19 age groups are optional age groups for all participant clubs.
Thus, it’s possible that these are groups are non-existent in some DA 2.0 clubs (ex. Chicago Fire arbitrarily eliminated the U18/U19 team in the former DA league leaving players stranded looking for another club). Also, it’s entirely feasible that the lack of “mandatory” U13, U14 and U19 teams will force DA 2.0 club participants to inevitably play against local teams anyway to save on traveling costs as DA 2.0 level competition may be too far away. If that is the case, why make a jump to DA 2.0 to play against your former local club (ex. FC Dallas playing Texans 3-4 times a year). If there are local club alternatives at the U13, U14 age groups, we see minimal value to switch leagues/clubs. Instead, stay at your local club and use each opportunity when playing against any MLS clubs to play your best games. The notoriety gained by doing so will yield valuable exposure and MLS teams likely will come down knocking at important age windows. Both Johan and Jogo were recruited by FC Dallas doing exactly this.
If your player is about to be age eligible to any of the older age groups: U15, U17. It’s definitely worth exploring joining the DA 2.0. U15 is the age group when youth national teams are initially formed and international competition officially starts. It’s possible that membership to the DA 2.0 league continues to be the preferred path to youth national teams and thus the “recommendations/connections” by DA 2.0 (specifically MLS clubs) staff could prove invaluable.
On the other side of the spectrum, joining a different club (especially an MLS one) at the U18/U19 level presents ZERO benefits to a player/family. The new club team will usually be comprised of players who have been playing together for several years and the new player will likely feel out of place and spend most of the season playing catch up. Furthermore, if the U19 team is comprised of mostly High School (HS) seniors, they will tend to be more focused on their next life phase/agenda: 1. College football, 2. Professional football path, or 3. Neither. Club football development is typically placed in the back burner by staff as well. Player development stalls in this age group especially in the United States as not all U18/U19 players are ready to play in MLS; and this group of players is normally neglected by MLS sides. Likewise, the gap between U18/U19 players and MLS players is significant and playing opportunities -outside of college- are scarce (ex. U23 teams are not normal). As a result, unless it’s the only choice, switching teams at the U19 level could be VERY detrimental to football development and should be avoided at all costs.
To worsen the situation, at some MLS sides, their satellite campuses along with their solid reputation helps them recruit players throughout the year. Be ready for your player to be challenged when a satellite campus player arrives mid-season of the U19 year. Also, foreign-born players are more likely to arrive at the U19 age group due to FIFA regulations barring U18 and younger player international moves. Caveat: This player movement at the U19 level may be more prevalent at the FC Dallas setup given their reputation and multiple (over 10) satellite campuses
Once player’s age has been thoroughly factored into the selection of a club, next comes “location”. There are many DA 2.0 clubs geographically scattered throughout the United States. If the player’s residence is near the training facilities of a DA 2.0 club, the odds of the player joining the desired club are magnified. The potential disadvantage of living within a radius from a DA 2.0 MLS club is a concept called MLS territories. Per MLS rules, a player/family who lives within 100 miles from the MLS stadium now “belongs” to that MLS club. Even if the player never plays for such MLS club, the club automatically owns his/her rights. For example, in our local market, if a Solar player, for whatever reason, wants to forego the opportunity to play for the FC Dallas academy and instead wants to play for the Columbus Crew academy, FC Dallas has to “approve” the move (there could a financial cost associated with this approval between MLS clubs depending on age) or the player’s family has to physically move to Columbus, OH for non-football related reasons.
Unfortunately (but maybe a good thing), not everyone lives in close proximity to a DA 2.0 club (see map below). However, in such cases, driving costs start to add up and bigger sacrifices need to be made by the player/family. On the other hand, a huge advantage of NOT living close to a DA 2.0 MLS club is that the player is not constrained by any MLS club rules and can join ANY (MLS or amateur) DA 2.0 club at will.
Know who you (player/family) are and have a vision based on your core values. Even while pursuing the player’s dream to a pro football career, some (probably most) parents prefer not to separate from their player at a young age. Letting him/her go live with a foster family may not be a viable option either. In some cases, a family move, albeit radical, could be a better alternative. Each family situation is unique and complex; there’s never any guarantees of success. Be realistic about your player’s talents and aspirations. There will always be a level of uncertainty with any life decision but being informed helps mitigate some of it.
Currently, what is certain is that any league in its inaugural season goes through some growing pains. Such will be the case for DA 2.0. If that adds uncertainty to your player’s/family’s situation, it may be best to sit on the sideline and let it mature for a year or two if you can afford it. Believe us, you won’t regret it and it’s possible, your player may continue to love the game in its purest form without the added stress about the uncertainty.
If you do decide to proceed with a move to an MLS club specifically, below you will find some advantages and disadvantages of joining an MLS club vs a non-MLS (amateur) club.
Advantages of joining an MLS academy:
Most MLS clubs are low to no-cost for their “academy” teams; therefore MLS clubs pose a significant financial advantage over most amateur pay-to-play clubs which normally do not have a revenue stream through a professional team. However, there are some amateur clubs whose academy is low to no-cost such as Cross-Fire and Rise but they are part of the minority. Conversely, in the former DA, there were MLS academies that were pay-to-play (DC United and Minnesota United FC).
In the Dallas Forth Worth (DFW) area, the MLS side has both: FC Dallas youth teams (Juniors, Select, Premier) which are pay-to-play and low cost FC Dallas academy teams as part of their development model (see figure below). The many (over 200) FC Dallas pay-to-play teams serve a unique purpose: to subsidize the FC Dallas academy teams. This may or may not be the model at other MLS sides.
Some local parents are drawn to the FC Dallas name for their U13 and U14 players and unfortunately find themselves paying thousands of dollars a year for no additional developmental benefit (beyond first team discounted tickets and a permanent training ground). In the figure above, the bottom three categories are pay-to-play ($3k – $3.5k+ per year) teams normally higher than their local amateur club fees. The FC Dallas Academy category has minimal costs but it’s worth noting that it’s not easy to either: 1. Make the FC Dallas Academy teams or 2. Be promoted from any of the bottom three categories to the FC Dallas Academy teams. Honestly, if your player has spent more than two consecutive seasons in any of the bottom three categories, there’s almost zero chance he/she will ever be moved up permanently to the FC Dallas Academy team.
To be fair, the FC Dallas Academy category (or similar for other MLS clubs) is almost fully funded nowadays; however, it is very prohibitive in terms of flexibility to play other sports (school or not), and requires a significant amount of traveling with NO real added benefit at the early ages. In fact, the increased travel, burned out a lot of young footballers who eventually selected other mainstream sports by high school age. Thus, it is fair to say that the densest concentration of talent is not always playing for MLS clubs (for many potential reasons).
There’s a possible misconception that the MLS clubs monopolize most of the local talent. While that may be very true in some geographic areas, it is not so much in areas like North Texas, North/South California, etc. DFW is so big and rich in football talent that one MLS team is unable to accommodate the abundance of talent in the area. Therefore, there are a multitude of very competitive DA, ECNL, classic/lake highlands league football clubs that have historically established themselves as great alternatives for development environments that are excellent (if not better) than FC Dallas. If one considers all age groups in any football academy, we agree that the MLS club should have a higher concentration of talent but a family should focus on the specific age group their player wants to join. Below, we analyze and compare a couple of age groups from local teams vs. FC Dallas:
Looking at recent statistics, in the just truncated 2019-2020 DA season, both the Solar U16/U17 boys and girls teamsachieved superior results than the FC Dallas U16/U17 counterpart teams. One could argue that specific sample is an outlier, or that it supports our theory of a fairly talent distribution among clubs in our area, or whatever other pretext. We tend to discredit the outlier theory because in the previous season (2018-2019), both boys and girls Solar teams were crowned national champions in the same age group eliminating the corresponding FC Dallas U16/U17 teams in the process. This is not unique to North Texas only; California and Colorado are other markets where amateur academies are stronger than their MLS counterparts.
MLS academy clubs train more frequently than amateur clubs. While FC Dallas has the resources to dedicate to daily training; other amateur clubs do not. Repetitions are essential for the more advanced players; however, the risk of burnout is always present. Normally on the boys side, MLS clubs will communicate with the player/family by the age of 15/16 as to whether they have any professional plans for the player or not. If they do have plans, the player should stick around and benefit from the more frequent practices and other perks (practice with the USL/first team, etc.) the MLS side has to offer. Otherwise, the player needs to evaluate if the “juice is worth the squeeze”. Will sticking around the MLS side with more frequent practices help him/her with other future options like college, playing abroad, etc. Would he/she rather forego sacrifices associated with playing for an MLS team and instead join an amateur club that allows him/her more flexibility to do other extra curricular activities (ex. play other sports in HS, discover other talents, etc.) and still be in a competitive team?.
Development opportunities (ex. Generation Adidas -GA- Cup, Youth National Team -YNT- recommendations) at an MLS club are going to be typically better during the 17 and younger years than for amateur clubs. At the U19 level, players tend to mostly just go through the motions as they have either already secured college placement, reached some level of professionalism with the club, or are in the process of planning trials abroad as a path to professionalism. Indifference at the U19 age group is rampant especially from MLS sides. Locally, the inception of the NTX SC affiliate, has seen a focus shift from the U19 age group to the USL-1 side. There will only be a handful of U19 players who will benefit from opportunities such as higher level training but unfortunately, the majority of players not selected for additional development opportunities are left behind with little motivation to be in the program. The FC Dallas U18/U19 saw an exodus of key academy players this past season…
Thus, it’s at 17 years of age and younger where MLS clubs normally offer more exposure to national and international tournaments; those however, will come at a high cost whether the player plays for an MLS club or not. International tournaments are normally funded by parents exclusively in both setups. However, amateur clubs very seldom offer these opportunities as families are already shelling out a lot of money to pay for the academy team. Furthermore, MLS sides also offer exposure to YNT opportunities. However, with the federation announcing that most YNT age groups are frozen for the remaining of 2020, that may factor into a “rushed” decision to join (or not) an MLS team for the 20-21 season.
Disadvantages of an MLS academy:
Historically, MLS academies have been gender biased towards boys/men. Some (ex. LA Galaxy) have gone as far as recently cancelling their girls/women academy program. Thus, if your talented player is a female and cost is not much of an issue, MLS sides may not be the best choice for a move. First, unlike the boys’/men’s side, MLS clubs do not offer a clearer pathway to professional fooball for girls/women. Also, most MLS clubs have very little experience overseeing girls’/women’s programs and see limited financial gain from supporting that program; that’s why most MLS sides de-prioritize their girls’/women’s program.
Also, your local market may offer better club alternatives than the MLS club. In the DFW market, Solar (and sometimes Texans, D’feeters, etc.) offers hands-down a more established growth environment and more competitive teams for girls/women than FC Dallas. See this past seasons’ results at the U17, U16, U15 levels. Also, see this recently published chart (you can go back many months or observe the same trend in multiple publications ex. Topdrawersoccer):
There’s also far more female players being called up from Solar, Real Colorado, Tophat and other amateur clubs to youth national teams than there are from FC Dallas and other MLS sides.
one common misconception about the FC Dallas academy teams is that they are fully funded and that is not the case. Depending on the age group, the FC Dallas academy teams have at least one mandatory international trip (Mexico) each year (to play friendlies) which costs over $1,500. Furthermore, each family is required to raise funds for these mandatory international trips. To be fair, these expenses do not remotely compare with the annual costs associated with joining any of the other pay-to-play local amateur academy clubs which at least cost over $3k just for coaching fees and uniforms (no international tournaments). However, if money is not as much of an issue to your family, try to stay in the pay-to-play amateur club (ex. Solar) for as long as possible if your player has any real chance of becoming a professional. Why is that? Read below…
If your player has the talent to play professionally (this is very subjective), try to absorb the academy costs in a pay-to-play system for as long as possible (or seek scholarship opportunities) because once your player joins the MLS club, the club can claim the right to “very steep” training compensation. Training compensation is defined as the price tag on a player by the MLS club (on an annual basis) for having “developed” the player during the formative years. The compound amount of money piles up significantly over the years and it can become a deal breaker when a non-MLS club is interested in your player because the price tag is too high. Currently, this price tag is non-existent for most non-MLS (amateur) clubs. Read more about it here. Our recommendation is to shorten (if possible avoid) the MLS academy environment for as long as possible to minimize training compensation costs by joining academy amateur clubs (ex. Barca Academy, Solar, Cross Fire etc.).
Each decision to move to the new DA 2.0 league (MLS club or amateur club) must be carefully evaluated and thought out. There’s no one size fits-all solution and much less “perfect situation”; inexorably, sacrifices will have to be made by player and families. However, make the most informed decision by gathering factual information, talking to other parents, coaching staff, and most importantly, your own player. In the end, the decision should be made as a family with the player’s input being the most critical. Once a decision is made, don’t look back on it. Pursue it with a passion; “enjoy the ride” and something is to be gained out of ANY outcome.
Good luck and please reach out to us if you have comments/questions.
Misinformed decision by the club today; we don’t understand it but respect it regardless. We keep our heads down, working, and enjoying every minute we get to play and/or watch the beautiful game. We go to the Showcase and perform. No questions asked…for now. Time will tell…