It’s been a long road back for Shannon Gomez.
The Trinidadian defender had no sooner worked his way into contention for a roster spot in 2016 before a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury cruelly ended his season in July.
Now he’s back on the field for NYCFC’s preseason training camp in Jacksonville and the smile painted large on his face speaks volumes for the relief he feels to be back out there.
Still just 20-years old, the diminutive right-back has plenty of times on his side and could prove to be like a new signing for Patrick Vieira in the Frenchman’s second year at the helm.
Gomez told NYCFC.com: “I’m just coming back into preseason and I’m excited to be back doing what I love to do best which is playing soccer.
“The recovery has been excellent and I’m feeling really good and I’m raring to go. There’s a little bit of work left to do just to make sure I’m perfect but I’m excellent at this point.
“This year I’m hoping for big things and I’m working hard for that. I want to get back to where I was and to keep going from strength to strength to try and get more minutes in.
“I have set some personal targets and goals along with the team goals – I want to get more minutes this year and to hold down a spot in the team.
“Coming off an injury it’s going to be tough in the early going but I’ve just got to try and hit the ground running.”
Shannon was on loan from W Connection at NYCFC in 2016 but the club moved to make the permanent in the offseason – a telling sign of the esteem he’s held in by the sporting staff.
Gomez is thankful for that trust in his abilities and is banking on being able to show his appreciation with performances on the field over the coming months.
He said: “It meant a lot to me – I’m grateful for the time and the effort the club has invested in me, for what they saw in me that impressed them enough.
“I’m hoping to come back this season and to repay the faith they’ve shown in me. I have to keep working with the club to try and achieve my goals and hopefully I’ll step up this year.”
Gomez is especially grateful for the support and guidance of Vieira who he attributes a great deal of his improvement over the last 12 months to.
Describing playing under the Frenchman as ‘a dream come true’, Shannon is effusive in his praise for the Head Coach.
“Patrick is an excellent coach – he helps you play freely, to express yourself on the pitch while carrying out your roles and functions simultaneously,” the defender added.
“He guides you in the right direction – obviously with the experience he brings to any team that he goes to – coming to New York and playing under him is a dream come true and he’s helped me in so many different aspects of my game.”