There are many paths to take towards a successful soccer career for young U.S. players. While many take their talents to the MLS, other options are available. Louisville City FC, playing the USL, is fortunate enough to be a part of one promising prospect’s story. Jonathan Gomez (JoGo), a 2003 left-back, is ranked as the number ten u20 U.S. prospect. At the age of 17, European football appears to be on his horizon along with the eventual decision to either represent his home country, the United States, or Mexico.

JoGo, a Texas native, played for several youth clubs in the Fort Worth area before representing the U.S. futsal national team in late 2015. In 2016, at the age of 12, he tried out and was selected to join the FC Dallas academy and found his role in the left-back position. In the following years, he would go on to earn several personal and team accolades, cumulating in a season-long loan to North Texas SC in 2019. This exposure to a professional environment proved to be a “learning experience” for the youngster.

In March 2020, rather than working through the FC Dallas system, JoGo joined Louisville City where he would be more likely to see first-team minutes. While exploring his options, he found that his short- and long-term goals better aligned with LouCity than with FC Dallas. The coaching staff appears to have been an influencing factor in his decision. “Coach Hack has extensive coaching experience from players my age to MLS players,” Gomez said. “Coach Danny has recent playing experience and I think that the two complement each other well on and off the field.” While Coach John Hackworth is no longer with the club, interim-head coach Danny Cruz, as well as several fellow teammates, all have MLS experience.

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JoGo debuted for LouCity in the summer of 2020, during the restart of USL play after the COVID-19 outbreak had put a pause to the season. In the abbreviated season, he had six starts in ten appearances largely serving as the backup to the veteran defender, Oscar Jimenez. At the age of 17 in his second season wearing purple, he is primed to showcase his talents to the world. Thanks in part to early season roster experimentation and losing Jimenez to injury, JoGo has started in both LouCity matches in the 2021 campaign. So far, he has looked phenomenal in both matches. He even earned Man of the Match honors during the LouCity vs Birmingham Legion match. Post-match, Coach Cruz said, “When you look at his ability to get up and down, his mentality both defensively and in the attack, he certainly doesn’t play his age. That is for sure. The kid is continuing to grow every day here.” The growth and development between his first and second season is extremely noticeable to the LouCity faithful. “It’s all about gaining experience,” Gomez stated. “I’m glad that the coaches are giving me that opportunity. I’m just trying to help the team as much as I can and take advantage of my opportunity to continue to develop.”

Although his age is currently keeping him from a move to a larger, foreign club, it will not be a barrier much longer. In September 2021, JoGo will turn 18 and will be eligible for a transfer to Europe, following in his brother’s footsteps. He is currently valued at $165,000 per TransferMarkt and has already had trials with Sporting CP in Portugal, FC Midtjylland in Denmark, as well as SC Freiburg in Germany. There has also been some expressed interest from the likes of Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund, PSV, Chivas, and Werder Bremen. To quote an article from Louisville City FC’s website, “It’s fair to expect that by this time next year, once Gomez is 18 and can receive a work visa in Europe, he will hone his craft overseas while emerging on the U.S. Men’s National Team radar.”

Although JoGo is U.S.-born, he is a dual national having played for both the U.S. and Mexican youth national teams. In an interview earlier this year, he did not share an inclination towards one country or the other stating that he will go with the best opportunity. He currently has made one appearance with Mexico’s U-16 team and six with the U.S. U-16 team. Both debuts were in 2019. For what it’s worth, he did turn down a call-up with Mexico’s U-16 team to instead play for the U.S. U-16’s in 2020.

It’s clear that JoGo has a bright future ahead of him. He is currently seeing regular first-team minutes, growing in each appearance, and will likely soon be on his way to Europe to take his career to the next level. With that growth will come the inevitable choice of what country to represent. He has kept his options open and will have to determine who the better fit is; the U.S. or Mexico. Keep your fingers crossed, fellow U.S. fans.

By Benton Newman (@purplesdf)

Check out his interview with Marcus O’Malley, Matty Knipps, David Kerr and Chris Kerr when he joined Patrick Weah on Knocking it Around: