A shortened season didn’t put a damper on Joseph Farouz from building on his most successful season with the Dynamo Academy. The forward led the U-15 squad in goals with 14 and earned a share of the Brian Ching Golden Boot last season.
Following the end of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy season, Farouz trained at home navigating the pandemic like the rest of his teammates. The 15-year-old was thrilled to return to Houston Sports Park in August and a few weeks after the return to organized team activity, Farouz found himself away from his teammates once again. This time under different circumstances as he accepted an invitation from coach Abdel-Sattar Sabry to join the U-20 Egyptian National Team in Cairo.
"It was an honor to be called up to represent my country,” Farouz said. “(Sabry) knew it wasn't very accessible for them to come all the way over here. So, obviously I felt very honored and my parents felt very honored that they were interested in seeing me play and that they thought I was a great player after seeing my film here in the United States."
Farouz arrived in Cairo on Aug. 30 and he was one of two players that reported to camp from a foreign country. This was the first time the Katy native visited Egypt since he was a year old. Sabry initiated the conversation with Farouz, his family and the Dynamo Academy toward the end of July as the federation ramped up their youth national team program after a six-month pause due to the pandemic.
"As soon as I got there, everything is just different. It was a bit of a culture shock. As soon as I got to the camp, I felt like one of the new guys,” the Dynamo Academy player said. “One of the guys who was in their first camp, after the first couple of days after I got adjusted the guys made me feel like I was at home. They started conversations with me and kind of brought me into their family."
Farouz was only scheduled to train for a week, but that changed as the crafty forward impressed the technical staff with his skill on the ball and work ethic.
"Originally, the plan was for me to stay one week and it was for four training sessions with one day off. After the first week, the coaches called me, and they had a very quick meeting with me. They said they liked the way I played, they commended my technical ability and they commended my character on the field,’” the forward said. “They asked me to stay another week, as long as I could. I decided to stay two weeks. So, in total we had eight training sessions, four training sessions a week with one day off."
Farouz spent his time off fulfilling his coursework as part of the Dynamo Academy online high school program. The Dynamo Academy implemented an online high school program toward the end of 2019 for all eligible players and that program has allowed for players like Farouz and Edry Caceres to join their national team without compromising their education.
The 15-year-old returned to Houston Sports Park on Sept. 13 and following a quarantine period he was thrilled to share his experience and make his debut in the MLS Next regular season. Internationally, Farouz looks forward to the upcoming camp in 2021 and join the 2003 cycle. Sabry and the technical staff were so impressed by the Dynamo Academy forward that he was tapped to be a captain for the upcoming cycle.
"It would mean everything to me,” Farouz said. “It has been a dream of mine for a long time to represent my country. It would mean everything for me."
Farouz returned to action on Saturday and scored a goal in the U-16 squad victory over FC Dallas at Houston Sports Park. The forward was named to the Best XI by the technical staff, and for Farouz, this was just business as usual.
“We as a team want to reach very, very high goals,” he said. “My goal for this season is to retain the golden boot again this year and to reach the championship with this team. I feel like we are very capable team. I think we will have our best season yet."