Life in the United States, away from his family, has presented its challenges for Jorge Gomez Sanchez.
The junior midfielder from Talavera de la Reina, Spain transferred to Temple this summer from the European University of Madrid to aid in his pursuit of a professional soccer career.
When he arrived at Temple Aug. 10, it was the first time in his life he spent an extended period away from his home country.
“There are a lot of differences,” Sanchez said. “My family isn’t here, and it is hard because I miss them. Also, people talk differently and dress kind of different, but I’m very happy here.”
Sanchez joined an Owls team that finished 2-14-2 in 2014 and scored 13 goals while surrendering 37 to opponents. The team’s leading goal scorer was then-redshirt senior Chas Wilson, who finished with four goals and nine points.
In 2015, Sanchez, who left Saturday’s 1-0 loss to South Florida with a leg injury, has started all 11 games and logged 781 minutes for Temple (7-2-2, 0-2 American Athletic Conference). He leads the team with 11 goals, three assists and 25 points.
He helped the Owls’ offense score 20 goals this season, surpassing last season’s total of 13. In addition, nine different Temple players have found the back of the net on 140 shot attempts this season, as opposed to seven on 223 attempts in 2014.
“Scoring was one of the big problems we had last year,” sophomore midfielder/forward Dinho Zwane said. “He’s an excellent player when it comes to finishing, and off the ball he is good too, which is a huge thing.”
In Spain, Sanchez played with the Osasuna under-18 national team. He finished second on the team in goals with 20, helping lead the team to the Copa del Rey Youth Cup quarterfinal.
Senior midfielder/forward Jared Martinelli said Sanchez has been the playmaker the Owls were lacking last season.
“He just has a soccer mentality,” Martinelli said. “He’s a great finisher. He knows how to make the runs, and you’ve just got to find him because he’s going to be able to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Five of Sanchez’s goals have been game-winners, and he has three multi-goal games including a hat trick in Temple’s 3-0 win against the University of Pennsylvania Sept. 20. Sanchez has tallied a score or assist in all but three games this season, including the team’s last two losses.
In his first season as a starter, Sanchez ranks No.2 in the country in total points. He has also put his name in the Temple history books. His 11 goals are tied for the most by an Owl in a single season since Nate Webb’s 11 in 2003.
Sanchez also ranks second in Division I in goals scored trailing University of South Carolina-Upstate freshman Gordon Wild, who has 12 goals.
“I’m very glad to be the team’s leading goal-scorer,” Sanchez said. “The team creates all the plays and I finish, so I think the goals are from all of the team and not just me.”
Dan Newhart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @dannynewhart.