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
Words can’t suffice to describe the feeling of having hosted you along with your brother at home (your permanent home). It’s a family luxury we voluntarily gave up a few years ago. Silver lining from the pandemia. We are thankful to the Lord for keeping you healthy and safe and also to LouCity coaching staff for their understanding. They value family time as an important emotional pillar of an athlete’s mental well being and development. During your time home, we accomplished so many things. This is how it all went down:
Everything happened so quick. Just a few hours after we booked your trip late Saturday, you were departing from a very empty Muhammad Ali Louisville airport Sunday morning.
As usual, the flight was a short one but to be honest, we barely made it on time to pick you up from the DFW airport. There was little time for pictures but we managed to snap this one.
Just like Johan’s case, the change of clothes was mandatory and immediate after meeting you. We are pros at this now. On this particular day, we were in a rush since we didn’t want your siblings to wake up and find out we were gone to the airport to pick you up.
As soon as we arrived home, it was very tactful of you to go wake them up and greet them. Your siblings were pleasantly surprised and on we went to devour delicious traditional Mexican tostadas that you had been craving. We followed that up with Sunday service. At last, we were complete once again.
Child at heart
Off the pitch, most folks foreign to your lifestyle treat you like the young adult you have become. On the pitch, fans treat you like a grown football player sometimes forgetting you are only 16 years old. To be honest, your own family sometimes overlooks that you are still a kid at heart. During your time with us, we were blessed to witness the kid within you again; it filled our hearts with joy. BTW, thanks for allowing me to be a silly kid along with you. We manufactured some great memories albeit brief. Most importantly, we are grateful because we celebrated “El día del niño” (child’s day) yet another year together as a family.
We even got to make this fun video. You will enjoy watching it:
Fortnite and FIFA:
The evenings were full of video games. I tried to learn to play Fortnite to no avail; I promise to do justice to #theGomezway when I pair up with your brother in pursuit of e-cred in your absence.
The daily trainings:
Not everything was video gaming. Both of you trained every day. You have always been very diligent, punctual and disciplined about training and school; it’s infectious. However, having your brother around served you well to take training to another level. As your parents, we are really proud to see how you continue to grow grit autonomously but most importantly the healthy ways your siblings pushed each other forming fond memories in the process. My favorite family memory was the picnics at the fields after hard weekend training sessions: priceless.
Chuy: the new member of the family
Thanks for helping us choose a new family member. It was great having everyone around to make this important family decision. You were great with Chuy, he is going to miss the football fetching sessions with you but we’ll make it a point to bring him to you.
In addition to family, friends are an important pillar of a person’s psychological development. We are glad you took the time to safely visit acquaintances, friends, et al in Frisco. It was evident those interactions “complete” you emotionally.
The best part of it all is that you accompanied us to the best Mother’s day celebration yet. Why? Well, because in México, Mother’s day is celebrated on May 10th and this year’s that day was the 2nd Sunday in May (American Mother’s day celebration). We celebrated mom double.
It was a great three weeks but the time came for you to go back. You are so excited to get the season going but some logistics must be worked out first. Be patient. You have been training adequately, doing some Cooper runs (thanks Coach Hack) and will be ready when the time comes. You almost missed your flight because you wanted to get one last additional training session with your ex-teammates.
We are sad you are gone but happy you are now back with your extended family. They will continue to take great care of you but also work you hard. The real grind starts now. Never forget where you come from or where you are going. Know that you are loved.
I was recently invited to take part in one of our youth national team coaches’ new project. As I was exploring their material, I stumbled upon this post. The blog publication attempts to explain grit/mental toughness and how to develop it. In essence, if you want to increase your chances of success in life -including sports- one has to develop a growth mindset. The earlier one adopts that type mentality (ex. mamba), the less reliance is placed on factors that are outside of our control (ex. innate talent).
Wikipediadefines grit as “a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a particular long-term goal or end state (a powerful motivation to achieve an objective)“. Please spend a few minutes listening to psychologist Angela Duckworth define grit in the Ted talk below. Then, try to relate it to your own situation (or your young player’s)
If you don’t have an additional ten minutes to read the blog above, here is a quick summary:
Define what grit/mental toughness means to you
We all have different goals and objectives in life. Make sure yours are SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound. First, capture your SMART goals by writing them down. Next, start working on them; sometimes sharing them with others will elevate your own accountability level and will help you measure progress. It’s normal for young athletes to require assistance articulating their own goals. Once they reach certain age (or maturity) complete autonomy is expected.
As an example, during these times of no team practices. Our children have found creative ways to train most days. In addition to their physical training, one of the boys supplements his training by running about 5 kilometers/day at least 5 days per week. Each run should be done in the same course as the previous run as the completion time must be better than all the previous occurrences. This is part of a bigger goal he has.
Build grit in discrete portions
Grit does not have to be necessarily developed against extreme adversity. In fact, it’s best if it isn’t. Start by growing grit on your terms. Aim small miss small. In your daily lives, push yourself out of your comfort zone doing something simple or small that directly impacts your SMART goals/objectives. Faster growth occurs when we are outside of our comfort zones.
Develop a growth mindset by getting used to challenging yourself. Something as easy as going to sleep 15 minutes earlier because your goal is to sleep 42 hours/week. Understand that grit and mental toughness are traits that need to be carefully nourished and developed. In the end, it’s all about developing and then maintaining the habits. The habit of continuous improvement equates to a growth mindset.
On a personal note, 7 years ago, when the idea about this family website was presented to us by my younger sister, I found many reasons to postpone its inception (mostly lack of time or so I thought). She insisted that we had so much to share with others and that it’s the least that we could do. Long story short, she’s no longer with us but we ended up following her advice. Thankfully, last year, we finally decided to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones and started this site in a non-native language. Now, we can’t stop writing and helping others. It’s become a self-rewarding family project that has impacted other families. We are constantly inundated with communication (texts, emails, and calls) from parents asking us for footballing advice. Also, we now see other families starting similar online (Twitter, YouTube) family projects as a result of our initiative: #theGomezway. The seed has been planted, now, it’s time to “pay it forward”.
Build strong habits and don’t depend on motivation
Grit and mental toughness are more about cultivating the needed habits to reach your goals. Developing consistency eliminates the need for sporadic motivation or courage (ex. going to the gym). If you create the correct habits to go to the gym, you will never need additional motivation (ex. a partner to work out with). Strong habits (especially an open growth mindset) are the basis for future success especially in athletes.
During these down times, the boys have been working everyday on some of their improvement areas. They work out and push each other hard, but fortunately, they do not depend on each other’s company for continuous improvement. They know they will be together for a short period of time and after they return to their respective new homes, their objectives will remain the same.
Recently, one of Johan’s Chumchat’s guests Will Swinney (Dabo Swinney’s son) summarized it best when he said:
Your thoughts become your words; your words become your actions; your actions become your habits; your habits become your character and your character becomes your destiny
In closing, learn how to have a growth mindset. This is ONE way to develop grit or mental toughness. It all starts with the way we perceive the world. Have you ever wonder how a single song has the power to change our mood? Our minds are very poweful. Make “continuous change” the norm in your daily lives and take control (or at least influence) of your success now.
BTW, this week’s chumchat video didn’t have any guests but the boys had a good time “reviewing” previous guests Instagrams accounts. It’s a funny episode. Give it a listen.
Nos da un gran gusto ver a los miembros de la familia pamboleando con sus respectivos equipos. Mientras Jogo anotaba otro gol (se lo anularon debido a un fuera de lugar) contra el equipo nacional sub-17 de Estados Unidos en Florida (tercer juego consecutivo anotando), Johan tuvo una asistencia en el amistoso (debido al paro por la fecha FIFA) del FC Porto. Para culminar bien el día, el tercer Jogo se despachó con la cuchara grande y anotó un “hat trick”. Los goles y las asistencias siempre serán el resultado del juego de conjunto y a veces hasta circunstanciales pero nunca se darán en exceso; hay que celebrarlos mientras se pueda. A final de cuentas, nos fascina que estén disfrutando el “deporte de las masas” tal y como debe de jugarse con alegría y disciplina. Y por cierto, ya falta un día menos para reunir a la familia.
It’s with mixed feelings that we write this post after learning that the Development Academy (DA) program suspended operations indefinitely. There’s a glimpse of hope as a successor program was announced by MLS almost immediately after the news broke out; however, the lack of details disclosed on it could be uncertain for current and future families seeking a new football league/team/club. Thus, at the writing of this post, the uncertainty of the new program (let’s call it DA version 2.0) prevents us from having an objective opinion about it. Therefore, we will focus on the known and now defunct DA program (DA going forward).
As some would say, DA was not perfect but its successor won’t be either. It’s human nature to complain about many things in life as a way to try to enhance/optimize them and maybe for excellent reasons; sometimes that’s how we drive change. Like everything else though, there isn’t a solution that fits everyone’s needs and DA was definitely in that category. Since DA was costing families money (lots in some cases), parents (and players) would naturally feel entitled to more value than what perhaps they were receiving. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.
In our case, we inherited the DA setup by virtue of having joined the FC Dallas (FCD) environment prior. Therefore, the benefits or disadvantages of being a member of DA were somehow diluted by virtue of being with the club first. DA did a lot for the Gómez boys (more good than bad). In the end, it gave them a more realistic platform to “the dream” which they didn’t have before. For us parents, it provided countless memories.
Neither one of the boys will play in DA v2.0 anymore so why do we care? Easy, we care because one of the objectives of this site is to share information for football families. We would have liked to have all this information available when we were at crossroads with some of these decisions. Ultimately, we also want the betterment of the sport in this country. Equally important, we do have a daughter who plays the sport at a competitive level. Note: We typically exclude her from most football related posts for two reasons: age and love for the game. Although she’s probably the most technically gifted of all the three siblings, her love of the game isn’t quite there (yet) AND in this particular case, she never experienced the DA setup given her age. Below, we try to break down some of the pros and cons that DA (from an FCD parent’s perspective) provided for us. First the pros:
When Johan joined FCD, the club already participated in TEPAL (Texas Pre-Academy League), a US Club Soccer sanctioned league. For this league, FCD required training five times a week (as opposed to twice a week with Johan’s previous club: Solar). The increased training frequency was instrumental in Johan’s development; it soon increased to six times a week during his U14 year (when his team -01s- joined DA). Although we had to commute to Frisco for training (45 miles – 90 minutes with traffic- each way), training was worth the extra time and miles. Johan was being coached and evaluated by not only FCD staff but U.S. Soccer local scouts for inclusion to U.S. Soccer local/national training centers and camps. Jogo, two years later went through the same process except, he never played TEPAL.
Our traveling was not limited to/from practices. In TEPAL, the team traveled for games twice a month within the the state of Texas and would play against local clubs (Andromeda, Solar, Texans), Houston (Dynamo, Rush), San Antonio (Classics Elite), and Austin (Lonestar). Once the team moved to DA, most of the TEPAL teams joined DA and new ones (out of state) joined our conference. As a result, the travel now included Colorado teams (Rush, Real Colorado, Rapids) and Sporting Kansas City. In TEPAL, all the out of town trips were via bus; once the team started traveling to Colorado and Kansas, the team started flying. Similarly, DA provided the opportunity to attend two (fall/winter) and (spring/summer) showcases to play different teams from across the nation. At the time, the spring/summer showcase always took place in Frisco which was convenient. Additional showcases included futsal which both boys loved.
The competition in TEPAL was very good. In fact, some of the best competition the FCD 01s ever faced was out of San Antonio (Classics Elite) which unfortunately never made it to DA. In the end, most of these clubs eventually joined DA but some good talent was definitely left behind. The state of Texas is loaded with talent but when DA added “neighboring” out-of-state clubs, league competition definitely improved. Also, the showcases were always packed with parents (at the younger ages), scouts/agents (at the older ages) and of course, coaches/players. A football social networking heaven. These showcases offered the opportunity to play equally talented teams from across the country. In their first year, the FCD’s 01 DA team, ranked #1 at the time, played LA Galaxy ranked #2 at the time (rankings are always subjective). In an extremely competitive game FCD defeated LA Galaxy with Johan scoring this goal:
The FCD 01 DA would go on to record the first (and only) undefeated DA season in the club’s history. Anyway, all this travel (at FCD) had ZERO cost for the families/players.
In TEPAL, the team traveled by bus a couple of times a month and parents paid FCD for the trips (about $60/player). In DA, that was no longer the case for either bus or airplane trips. The coaching, the uniforms, the fields, and the travel fees (associated with DA) were all covered. The only cost associated with watching Johan play was the expense incurred as a family to attend the games (and filming). Even then, when we couldn’t attend the games, all the games were recorded or streamed (or both).
When the games were not streamed, all it took to watch DA games (albeit delayed a few days) was a request to the team manager. For the Gómez’s, DA made it convenient to watch the boys’ games, we no longer had to attend games live and much less record the games ourselves. The addition of the DA games helped enrich our YouTube channel: theGomezway. Most of that content is unlisted. As a side note, we heard this season FCD realized that families were using these tapes to showcase their players and the requests for film now require academy director approval. It makes some sense; honestly, we were always given full access to video without any restrictions. We are extremely grateful for that. Either way, the exposure by streamed or recorded games provided yet a different platform for additional player publicity; some parents/families eventually realized its huge impact.
National team exposure:
Whenever the DA games (showcase mostly) were streamed, the number of viewers was significantly large. In our case, we learned of agents, scouts, remote family members who were able to view, enjoy, and assess the boys’ performance thanks to these streamed games. Similarly, the DA’s database of recorded games could easily be accessed by some of these professionals interested in youth games. In the end, it wasn’t necessary for families to build a football library as the film was easily accessible online. The DA showcases were open season in terms of talent for national team scouts who were always in attendance. It was partially at those showcases where both of the boys gained more attention with the national team staff. Thank you DA and FCD!!
As you can read from above, DA required a lot of player (and family) commitment (cons below). However, the league was setup to reward individuals and teams (with end of season awards). The boys were recipients of several accolades (team and individual) during their DA membership and those incentivized them to continue improving. The one below is probably the most significant as both were on the same award simultaneously. The effects of a pat in the back for anybody (more so for a young player) are underrated. Words and actions are very motivational.
Not everything was rosy with DA. For almost every advantage I listed above, there’s at least one counter-point. Here are some of the cons:
Although it was very beneficial to train more frequently, the body (without proper care) eventually feels the wear and tear which normally leads to more injuries. Unfortunately, most of these DA clubs were not setup to provide the medical attention needed for these players who underwent a long season with a rigorous training regime. Medical care was typically left up to parents. In our case, we always tried to be very proactive regarding the boys’ health and nutrition and thankfully, neither struggled much with injuries. Ultimately, it IS a contact sport and that can’t be prevented. There were other players who were not as fortunate. Medical negligence influenced their performance and in some cases cut their football careers short. To be fair, the six times a week training wasn’t necessarily a mandate by DA but the organization didn’t frown upon it either. For an organization that emphasized player safety, training six times a week never seemed to be scrutinized and/or challenged.
At the younger ages (U15 and below), DA rosters are usually not impacted as much with injuries (equivalent playing time plays a role). Also, the game is more pure than at the older ages where street smartness and hormones comes into play. Statistically, the frequency and severity of injuries increases as players age until they become professionals. Player injuries ultimately impact the quality and sometimes the results of matches. By the end of the season, making a run for the DA championship seemed more of a battle for the survival of the fittest (deeper benches) than the team playing the better football. Johan’s team made two of the last three DA finals. Injuries, as part of the regular game as they may be, in some cases became a huge financial burden on families and unfortunately, DA (or the club) didn’t make it known to families that secondary medical insurance was available to assist with medical costs.
At FCD, cost was minimal to play DA but that wasn’t the case at other local clubs. We can’t imagine having to pay for coaching, fields, uniforms, travel, etc. If, in addition to the regular season fees, one adds preventive medical or injury costs, the expense to play “the beautiful game” skyrockets and justifiably some strongly criticized DA.
National Team Exposure:
Kuddos to national team staff that was always present at showcases. Historically, looking through youth national team player selection for the different age groups, there seems to be a higher density of selected players from MLS based academies. There could be many reasons for that depending on who you ask, some may even go as far as saying that talent is higher at MLS academies. In our opinion, non-MLS talented players do not always get as frequent assessments from youth national team staff as MLS based players. This may not necessarily be a ding against DA but a tendency indeed. We will be writing a post on this subject (Is a player better off joining an MLS side?) in the near future.
Length of season:
DA games started in early September and ended in early July of the following year (for those teams going all the way to the final four). However, training at FCD started in late July leaving only two weeks of vacation in the summer and two weeks in the winter. Also, FCD usually had two international trips (outside of the DA season) to México per year. These mandatory trips were not club-subsidized (required fundraising) and occurred in early August and another one in mid January. The trips were fun, competitive, but didn’t allow proper recovery of the young athlete’s growing body. It’s a very long season that leaves limited time for anything outside of football. DA had some participation rules but not a single rule about a mandatory rest period.
DA had a “rule” (albeit soft) that players could not participate in school football (middle and high school). Personally, this may have been the main drawback for our boys. Both boys attended a private school prior to joining FCD. In that school, they could have very well excelled playing football (and other sports) as it’s not public-setting competitive. Early in their teenage years (more Jogo), they had to forego playing with school friends and abandon school sports due to potential saturation. In hindsight, some would say it was the correct decision. Ironically, both boys now get to see how their younger sister excels in every school sport she participates in and maybe that plants a seed of uncertainty about the “what could have happened if I….”.
I could go on listing more pros and cons but this post is already long. To summarize it, I would say that there isn’t a perfect fit for every football family. As you gauge what environment is best for yours, do your due diligence. Do what fits your family the most and without regrets go all in with the decision. We did that, and although it wasn’t perfect, we would do it again in a heartbeat. Please continue to reach out should you have any questions.
BTW, Johan and friends continue chumchatting. This week’s guest was the famous two time national champion Clemson “American” football coach: Dabo Swinney. Give them a listen.
¡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.
Nutrition is an integral part of one’s health and growth and more so for athletes. Having two young athletes living away from us has presented its share of challenges. As parents, we always want to ensure that our children’s nutrition is adequate for their age and activity levels.
To be honest, both boys have always been very disciplined and have understood the importance of a balanced diet given their lifestyles. However, we know there are way too many food choices available. Even as an adult, it’s hard to discern what’s best for our bodies, that feeling magnifies for a couple of teenagers and this is where they sometimes need our assistance.
In Johan’s case, he currently has no need (or desire) to cook as Porto takes care of that aspect of his life. Similarly, Louisville also takes excellent care of Jogo; however, Jogo loves to cook frequently (more so recently). As you can see from his hobbies, he finds cooking therapeutic as well fulfilling…and this is where we (mom) come in.
See, when they both lived in Frisco (about an hour away from us), their nutrition was easy to manage (and even influence). Mom would cook additional portions that they would in turn freeze, transport to their home and eat at will. During the weekends, the boys would come home and we would just all eat together (all smiles).
Nowadays, we leverage technology to increase Jogo’s nutritional IQ. We not only help him with cooking but also with shopping. I must say, it works extremely well. The videos also serve a secondary purpose as they help us practice my native language. Warning, the video below is in Spanish.
Remember that carbohydrates are an athlete’s main fuel. Their body changes them to glucose -a form of sugar- and stores them in their muscles as glycogen. A diet rich in carbs is important. In the future, we will be adding more videos about other support methods (ex. grocery shopping) and hints to help young athletes and their families with managing/influencing nutrition remotely. As with anything you do in life, do it with a passion.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also
In other news, the chums have been doing really well and continue to increase their follower base. This week’s guest was NFL’s Hunter Rentfrow. Give them a listen when you can and susbscribe to their YouTube channel or Spotify. Enjoy
Football has allowed the Gómez’s to visit and experience some amazing places domestically and internationally; in the process, we have met some wonderful people. We are beyond grateful to football for those opportunities. In this particular occasion, we visited yet another historical place packed with pleasant folks. After the initial remote interactions with the Louisville City FC staff, we were confident that we would finally encounter hospitality, honesty, genuineness, openness, and the appropriate development setup for Jogo…and sure enough, Louisville did not disappoint.
My fathers’s favorite sport was not football; it was boxing. I became a boxing fan at an early age mostly because of him but also because my home country produces its share of good boxers. I remember watching boxing every Saturday night with my father; he’d ask me trivia questions about the sport so I became very knowledgeable at a young age. All that said, when the trip to Louisville materialized, the last thing that crossed my mind was Muhammad Ali’s hometown. However, as soon as we landed in the Louisville Muhammad Ali airport, I felt I had gone full circle in a small (but very intimate) part of my life. My dad would have been happy.
From the moment we received confirmation of the trip until the last handshake; we felt welcome; the hospitality was incredible. It’s not often parents get an opportunity to talk openly to the head coach (especially one whom we admire) and much less his staff (the assistant coach and the goalkeeper coach). They made us feel welcome…special. We were not just a number. Is this how it’s supposed to be? Thank you. In addition to the coaching staff (and in no chronological order), in our first trip, we met the vice president of operations, the club president, the academy director, the public relations team, the chaplain (and his wife), players (Sean, apologies since we were in a rush), etc. Everyone was so genuinely kind and welcoming. Words can’t suffice. They say Texans are famous for their southern hospitality…don’t know, what we experienced that weekend outdoes anything we have witnessed before. We know we landed at the right place.
Are you kidding me? A 65 million dollar facility with a capacity of up to 14k fans. It’s not every day that a USL team has its own brand new football dedicated stadium. Being part of the inception of a project magnifies the satisfaction and was a factor in our decision. The attention to detail is incredible; from the shape of the stadium to the locker room soccer tennis area. It’s well thought-out. It’s also not surprising that the folks who made us feel welcome are the same folks behind this magnificent design. The two main supporter groups will be ecstatic. The tifos and smoke bombs setup; everything is built with a purpose. The Lynn Family stadium will be inaugurated by Louisville City FC on April 11th. We are looking forward to an environment packed with supporting fans on our third visit; we have never experienced an environment like that in North Texas.
Having the flexibility to accompany the team to pre-season was the cherry on the cake. Jogo not only had a chance to interact, train and play with the team in Louisville but also traveled with them to Florida to further validate any potential on-the-field development uncertainties. While there, he played a scrimmage against a very talented DC United side and defended some very good players. Get well soon Paul. We need you back on the USMNT.
In two quick pragmatic trips with packed agendas, we achieved everything we wanted except perhaps more sight-seeing. We’ll be back, there’s no doubt about that. We did manage to use at least one of the famous beautiful bridges that go across the Ohio River (to cross to Indiana to go to Target).
Is this how cold it’s supposed to get? Texas winter wind surpasses this any day. We experienced beautiful days for football with (guess what?) no wind and we loved it. Incidentally, the colder weather and the quicker speed of play of the team helped Jogo with what he embarked on right after Louisville City FC pre-season.
In an already gloomy afternoon (Kobe’s news), the time came to say goodbye. It had to be quick because Jogo needed to return to “his business” and the quick adieu helped. Mom was sad (extremely sad). Everything we have seen far exceeds our expectations; we know deep in our hearts this is where he belongs. Yet as we head back to the airport, a natural sudden nostalgic feeling rushes in. The sadness is exponentially exacerbated by the gloomy cold Sunday night. Feelings are strange and we can’t explain them sometimes; for now, we must manage them. There is no doubt this is the next logical progression in his career. We know Jogo will embrace it with open arms because he is surrounded by an excellent team. Seize the day son. It is time to continue shining.
It is never easy to say good-bye (Instagram icon above) to longtime friends and teammates under any circumstances, but in the end, one must move on to pursue different opportunities when the current setup is no longer a viable option. We are not aspiring to be pioneers, insurgents, or anything of that sort but we know many families are currently on the same boat. For those of you right in the middle of it, know that there are options, but the risk/reward ratio is high. Odds are meant to be beaten; we are ALL in now. Also, know that we are in it together…and in the end, no matter what happens, the friendships will endure all adversities.
As Jogo begins his transition from an important stage of his football career to a new chapter of his life, Johan sets foot again on a soccer field for a light jogging and passing session. Baby steps they say; it was an excellent day today indeed. We are grateful. God’s timing is always perfect.
In other news, Johan and his ex-teammates started a new project (click on the YouTube icon below). If you find the content useful, funny, witty, or silly, give them a like or subscribe to the channel. It’s entertaining but what can I say? I am a bit biased.
The tournament did not start well for the team. However, anybody who knows a thing or two about out of town soccer tournaments knows that playing the host team for the first game is always challenging. You end up playing against their crowd, their fields, their weather, their rules, etc. You then factor in the long flight 24 hours earlier, returning from the holiday break, a fragile roster with depth issues and all bets are off. I must say, the scoreline (1-3) for the first game was deceiving. For those of us who watched the game, it had its moments of decent FCD soccer with SIMA gold elite (SIMA from here on) playing very direct and using their speed to create the more dangerous chances overall. It is important to note that going down 0-1 in the first five minutes of the match (on top of my pretexts given above) against a top quality opponent is like ice-skating uphill trying to come back. At the end of the match, the boys and the coaching staff quickly shifted their focus to the second game…
The quality of soccer improved in the second game against Valencia and the coaching staff finally learned their rules (ex. unlimited substitutions and reentries permitted). Furthermore, FCD did not fall victim of overconfidence and there were no early forced substitutions due to injuries (incredible player management by the club on the eve of a U20 MNT camp). Also, Valencia plays a different brand of soccer so it was easier to stick to a ball possession plan. Overall, Valencia was supposed to be the opponent to beat but my guess is that this was not their “A” team. I find it interesting that a Spanish team would fly 11 hours to come play a “meh” tournament in the middle of their season (according to their schedule, they are supposed to play a regular season game in a few hours). Anyway, the final score was a tie with us conceding a soft goal in the winding minutes of the match for the second consecutive game. We really could have used those two points to secure a smoother pathway to the championship game but hey, live and learn…
Given SIMA’s dominance in their first two matches, it was a “do or die” situation for FCD’s third game against Esporte Clube Jacuipense . On paper, the Brazilians appeared to be the least known and most flexible opposition and that was indeed the case. FCD had the majority of the opportunities with our GK and defense having very little to do throughout the game. FCD went up on the score in the first half with a PK and closed the deal in the second half off of another set piece. 2-0 was the final score and that in conjunction with the continued dominance of SIMA (undefeated in the first three matches) setup a must see rematch for the “championship” game between SIMA and FCD.
Keeping the score tied at zero in the first 20 minutes of the championship game was of utmost importance in order to start playing our game (possession and mental); however, that was almost achieved until a soft PK call was given to the host team around the 10th minute. After going down 0-1, our team realized that PK calls were going to be soft and we ended up benefiting from two in our favor; one of our players is a master of that art. The game quickly turned more intense and aggressive with players on each team earning a red card and some yellows earned in the process as well. This was a battle not just against SIMA, the crowd, the fields, but their long winning tradition. SIMA had never lost this tournament in the 9 years they had organized it. Good job players and staff for the collective and individual hardware…it was a “good ride”. Thank you.