Photo courtesy of South Georgia Tormenta FC / Ricardo Gomez (No. 10)
How bad do you want to play?
That is the question University of South Florida talent Ricardo Gomez had to answer ahead of the 2017 Premier Development League season, and the dynamic midfielder responded by embarking on a 16-hour journey to join the Myrtle Beach Mutiny.
“In my head, I knew I was going to go to Myrtle Beach to play, but I was looking up flight tickets, and everything is so pricy because it was so last minute,” Gomez told USLPDL.com. “So, I look at the buses and see that there is a route up to Myrtle Beach that day at 7:30 in the evening, so I’m talking to Pat [Piscitelli, Mutiny General Manager], and he’s like, ‘how bad do you want to play?’ I told him I want to be up there as soon as possible, I took that ride and was on the bus for about 16 hours.”
Gomez arrived at his coastline destination around 11:30 a.m. and trained with the Mutiny that same day, exhibiting the drive and dedication he has shown for the Bulls over the past two seasons.
“This is my second summer coaching the Myrtle Beach Mutiny and only my first time working with Ricardo. I am very pleased with him as a player and a person,” Mutiny Head Coach Kyle Russell told USLPDL.com. “He has high demands for himself and his teammates every single training session – which sets a good standard for the team. He took a 16-hour bus ride – through the night – so that he could play for our PDL team this summer, and after two days of training he became our team captain.”
Gomez, who can play as an attacking midfielder but currently plays as the holding-mid for the Mutiny, has displayed his technique on the ball in the first few games of the PDL season, helping the club earn four points – including one shutout – through two games.
The midfielder played alongside four First Team All-American Athletic Conference selections with the Bulls during the 2016 college campaign. Two of those players, Nazeem Bartman and Lindo Mfeka, both played in the PDL and were chosen in the 2017 Major League Soccer SuperDraft.
“I’ve been blessed – put in some great positions to pursue my dream, and at the end of the day, everyone else can do things for me, but it comes down to me to put in the work day in, day out,” Gomez said. “For me, I’m in an environment with great coaches, great people, great players, and now I have to go out there and do what I can.”
In 19 games for the Bulls in 2016, Gomez recorded five assists, tying Mfeka for the team-high. Gomez will need to step up for South Florida in 2017, with a handful of talents moving on from the program. Eager to make it to the next level, he made the decision to participate in his first PDL season in order to follow the path many players before him have taken to the professional ranks.
“Not only is he a mature, natural leader with a lot of bite to his game, but he is also the type of player that the more he is on the ball, the more successful your team is,” Russell said. “Most playmakers at the college level struggle taking pride in their defending, but Ricardo is a true two-way player that I fully expect to be playing at the next level by this time next year."