Jonathan Gómez: Another Europe-bound Texan Prodigy by Chris
Jonathan Gómez is a newly rising teenage sensation at Louisville City FC, who will join Real Sociedad at the end of the USL season. For a player who only joined the club last year on a free transfer, Gómez settled into LouCity extremely well. The 17-year-old is already considered one of the most reliable assets in a squad full of experienced players.
Having represented both the US and Mexican national teams on the youth level, Gómez was the only USL player to have his name up in the 2021 Gold Cup 60-men roster for the United States. He also recently trained with the Mexican national team during their CONCACAF Nations League journey.
Gómez is a left-back who plays with extreme composure and outstanding physical/on-the-ball characteristics for his age. LouCity is a team that displays a very entertaining style of play, with lots of directness in passes and link-ups in the opponent’s half. And Gómez is a huge contributor to this.
When either CB has the ball, Gómez stays closer to the touchline and moves further up when instructed to. He fancies the idea of give-and-go, which draws parallels to his tendency to play a quick pass and exploit the area behind the opposition defense. He quickly recognizes the space and occupies it, which often leads to a tangible outcome.
In terms of his movements, Gómez is usually the one moving along the sideline but is not afraid to take a more inverted position when the winger stays wide. Either way, he is a master at breaking the defense line with penetrative runs (either to ask for the ball or distract the defenders). Once he travels to the final third, the youngster prefers to take extra touches to cut into the box and deliver the ball with well-timed crosses or cut-backs. While staying deeper, he likes to swing in low balls to the strikers from behind or progress the ball with dribbles over long distances.
Talking about his technique, I have got to say I’ve seen very few young wing-backs with better ball-striking technique (+ vision and decision-making) than his, which leads to particularly accurate passes and crosses. When the ball leaves the player’s foot, it’s nicely weighted and hardly wasteful. Through balls behind the defense, crosses from deep, little one-twos in tight spaces; the quality of his passes rarely lets down. He is one of the main corner kick takers in the team as well.
Though may not be the most elegant technician, he is a player who keeps the momentum going and is extremely hard to win the ball from. His physical package (speed, strength, balance, and jumping) combined with the decent first touch and competent right foot makes him a tricky presence on the wing. He’s got some footwork to pull out in tight spaces and wins a lot of throw-ins.
Out of Possession
Unlike many attack-minded LBs these days, he is impressively hard working in the other phase of the game. And that is thanks to his high stamina and determination. Capable of running box-to-box for 90 minutes, he employs exceptional athleticism and defensive attributes to make extra runs to execute tenacious defensive work.
Gómez is a vocal, aggressive, diligent, and confident defender, whose specialty comes from a great marking and ball-shielding technique. During 1v1s, he lowers himself for a quicker reaction and avoids breaking the deadlock to maintain a shape. This delay often provides enough time for teammates to recover and create a numerical advantage.
When he is battling with the attacker for a loose ball, he quickly scans to know where the attacker is coming from and skillfully builds a physical shield. I rate his overall defensive behavior quite high as he’s extremely determined in challenges and never cheaply gives the ball away.
He’s a bit inexperienced in 2v2 or 3v3 positioning near the sideline, though, which often leads to conceding through balls in behind. Also, despite the fair positioning, his body shape occasionally fails him and may allow the opponent to find a passing lane.
However, these flaws are often covered by his other defensive fortes. Should he fail to cut an initial through ball, the 17-year-old uses his pace to override the opponent and intercept. He also can cleanly nick the ball from the attacker, which proves him reliable in a lot of tense situations.
As he moves to Europe in the future, the above-noted defensive flaws are expected to be cultivated with higher-level coaching and analysis.
Many may argue that a step up from USL to (possibly) the Spanish top tier is a huge shift, which is true, and it could become detrimental to his performance. However, I do not fully agree with that stance. The style of play he pursues and displays is quite in line with what top-level teams look for in a wing-back. Especially for Real Sociedad B, the side Gómez is likely to join initially, a left-back like him who loves to push forward and takes advantage of fluid movements from advanced players would be very much needed and welcomed.
The likes of Xabi Alonso or Imanol Alguacil will do nothing less than encouraging the newcomer and getting the most out of him both on and off the pitch. His execution is already on a high level and he could well be competing with players from his age group. If the player can mentally settle in the new country, I think we can expect some exciting stuff.
It is still very uncertain which nationality he would lean towards, but either way, Gómez will be a massive gain for one, a massive loss for the other. There is no doubt about the talent.