Choco Gomez signs with Atlante FC.
Jose “Choco” Gomez, a 2013 Hermann trophy finalist, has signed with storied Mexican club Atlante FC, after being repeatedly snubbed by American pro soccer outlets.
A talent, known throughout his college career as the “midfield maestro” finally has a pro contract, and is now a Potro.
This is a story we’ve seen play out with alarming regularity, the exception here being the possibility of a happy ending. Most talented players that end up being rejected by the views of the American establishment, end up having little choice but to hang up the boots, and you never hear of them.
And since much of the pro soccer media isn’t in tune with what’s going on in the trenches or behind the scenes, they think these talented players “falling through the cracks” is some sort of myth.
A little on Choco’s trajectory
We first saw him play late in his development as a 15 year old when we had a team in his age group. Most evident thing was his natural talent and instinct on the field. Fantastic technique and feel for the game made Choco special.
And we weren’t alone in that assessment.
When a local club director put a talent combine together for some European scouts, dozens of the top 15-18 year old prospects were invited.
Choco was the only one that caught the eye of Club Brugge that was represented at the combine. He travelled to Belgium in the summer of 2008 and stayed there for several months playing for the u21 reserve side of the Belgian powerhouse.
His talents were valued but he could not sign a professional contract until his 18th birthday. He was a year too young and nothing could be done until then.
Choco found his way back to the states just in time for the high school season. When we heard, we made it a point to attend all of his games in order to get in contact with him.
We had a talented club team in his age group and were desperate to sign a player with his qualities – as they fit perfectly for the futbol we play.
After a couple months of courting Choco, he chose to join our small unknown club team over multiple US Development Academy teams that were after him as well.
He immediately became part of the Rage family. The coaches, players, and parents (always an important component in club soccer) were won over by the work rate, humility, and talent of the soft spoken Gomez.
Our mission? Polish up this natural talent and prepare him for the next level. Opening doors was our primary objective.
He was with us for just under a season when he graduated and was eligible for college.
We sent him to Cal State Fullerton where he had a great freshman season in a below average D1 college team with no identity. Choco knew he had much more in him and that fullerton wasn’t a good fit if he was to achieve his goal of being a pro. He had ZERO SUPPORT from the coaches at the school and informed them he would be leaving after 1 season.
Back to club soccer with us at OSC Rage. It would be a brief stint as we opened the next door for him at Mexican club Tigres. Tigres scouted our games at Surf Cup and immediately wanted to sign 2 of our players.
Choco, again ready to sacrifice everything went to Monterrey to pursue his dream. He was registered and played with the u20s in local competition as well as in Dallas Cup Super Group. He stayed at Tigres for 6 months to try the experience and see if it was something he wanted to pursue long term.
It was a tough decision but he decided that the best route would be the normal one in our market. Meaning, the conventional college route – study and play soccer, then get drafted to MLS.
We no longer had a club team his age as that group had aged out and we began a new cycle with the youngers. We placed Choco on a normal club team who would play CSL u19 Premier so he could get some games in while we figured out his next step in terms of an ideal D1 school.
In comes Creighton with the help of PJ Brown (Arsenal), former head coach Bob Warming (Penn St), and assistant coach Jason Mims (UNO). Choco would move to Omaha.
Freezing cold temperatures and snow greeted Gomez who had never experienced such a thing growing up in Orange County. (He travelled with a T-shirt, shorts, and some Vans)
He spent 3 seasons at Creighton, leading the team to back to back final 4 appearances. He won all the typical awards needed to get attention on the national stage. First team All-American, TopDrawersoccer National Player of the Year, Conference MVP, League MVP, and was a Herman Trophy Finalist.
Shoe in for the MLS and top draft pick right? WRONG! Our system was once again exposed for not valuing this gem.
Choco was drafted by Toronto FC in the supplemental draft as the 38th pick. This is when it gets even stickier. Toronto FC drafted him without knowing Choco was foreign born without a US passport. He couldn’t even join the franchise for preseason in Canada!
He was not signed and left to begin his journey from scratch.
After having his dream shattered by what was clear incompetence, he continued the quest. Trial periods with Chivas USA, Atlanta Silverbacks, San Antonio Scorpions, and Minnesota United all left him with a sour taste in his mouth due to the same reason that impeded these teams from signing him – his foreigner status.
Even the junk that is Orange County Blues, went in “another direction”.
The fire was reignited in Choco recently when the Costa Rica National Team had a week long training stint in Los Angeles.
They needed a few local players to join the training sessions for sparring purposes, and we sent Choco. Head coach Paolo Cesar Wanchope inquired about him and what professional club he was playing for because in his words “his level is on par with the players on his national team”. He was in shock that Choco wasn’t playing professionally.
Recently, an opportunity to travel back to Mexico opened up and Choco had no hesitation in accepting yet another trial. The destination? Atlante FC.
He attended invite only trials with another dozen players. After 3 days, he was selected to join preseason with the 1st team – which began the following week.
He completed preseason, appearing in every match, and scoring 3 goals in 5 games. Choco was offered a contract and the rest is history. His journey to achieving one of his goals is complete.