LOS ANGELES - Although Temple isn't too well known on the college soccer landscape, Jorge Gomez Sánchez's statistics are simply too good to ignore.
In just two years on North Broad Street, the Spaniard tallied 27 goals and eight assists in 36 games. That earned him a trip to Major League Soccer's scouting combine, the official prelude to Friday's draft.
His journey to this point has been unconventional. After playing in the academy of Spanish La Liga club Osasuna, he enrolled at Madrid's Universidad Europea. While studying there and playing for Spanish third-division team La Roda, he was scouted by an agency that places European athletes at American colleges.
Temple seemed a good fit, so Owls coach David MacWilliams went to Spain to visit him. Their meeting sealed the deal.
"From the first moment I talked to [MacWilliams], I knew it was a great opportunity," Gomez Sánchez said. "I love being there, and it [would] mean a lot to represent my college in MLS."
The Union have scouted Gomez Sánchez plenty, including some training sessions with the senior team.
"We saw him against pros, and he more than held his own," manager Jim Curtin said. "You can tell he's a very intelligent soccer player who has a real knack for the goal."
There are also questions that need answering. One is what position Gomez Sánchez would play in the pros. MacWilliams used him as a forward, but at 5-foot-8, he's too small to be a pure striker in MLS.
"MLS is looking for that big, athletic No. 9 [striker]," MacWilliams said. "I think maybe a No. 10 [midfielder role] would work out."
There are also doubts about the caliber of competition Gomez Sánchez faced at Temple.
"Just because you scored a lot of goals in college doesn't necessarily always translate to goals at the next level," an executive with one MLS team said. That sentiment was echoed by other observers around the combine.
Just like in football and basketball, the American Athletic Conference is a notch below college soccer's power conferences. But it has produced quality MLS attackers in recent years. Connecticut's Cyle Larin (Orlando) was the No. 1 draft pick in 2015, and has scored 32 goals in 61 games since then. South Florida's Dom Dwyer (Kansas City) scored 49 goals in 92 games over the last three seasons.
The consensus is that Gomez Sánchez will hear his name called Friday. That would be history by itself, as no Temple player has ever been picked in the MLS draft.
Only two Temple products have ever reached MLS, and both did so by other means. One was J.T. Noone, who was signed by the Union from the third-division Harrisburg City Islanders in 2010. The other was Tony Donatelli, who had a preseason trial with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2011 after five strong years in lower leagues.