Leo Gonzalez has plenty motivating him this season.
Last week, another inspiration arrived in Seattle in his father, Jose Gonzalez, who made his first trip to see his son since he signed with Sounders FC in 2009.
“I’m very happy. It’s his first time in Seattle,” Leo Gonzalez said after Seattle’s 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday. “It’s a lot of motivation for me because he’s my first support. When I was younger, he always came with me to every game.”
Jose watches Sounders FC matches online in Costa Rica, supporting his son from afar and speaking regularly with him. However, it has never been the same for Gonzalez. For all of his nine seasons with Herediano he could look to the stands, home and away, and see his father.
“He came to every game. Every city,” Gonzalez said. “He was my best support. I’m so happy that he is here.”
Gonzalez smiles when talking about the interaction between his father and his two children. His oldest son is playing a lot of soccer anytime he can and his infant daughter is growing by the day. Although Jose has seen his grandchildren on family trips back to Costa Rica, his work has prevented him from getting to Seattle to visit them.
In Costa Rica, the family-owned corner store occupies all of Jose’s time, working 12-14 hour days and running the whole business. That made trips to his matches with Herediano easy to see, but taking extended leave from the store has always been a challenging proposition.
“It’s difficult because for five years, I wanted to see him here, but he was always so busy,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I hope he enjoys the games. They are different than in Costa Rica.”
In his fifth season with Sounders FC, he is playing perhaps his best soccer in helping Seattle to the top defense in the Western Conference, allowing just a 1.04 goals against average and the 32-year-old Costa Rican has been the most consistent defender, starting 23 of the team’s 26 matches.
“I’ve had a good season, but the more important thing is the objective of the team – to win MLS,” he said. “I need to work every day and every training to get my opportunity in every game.”
He will stay in Seattle until September 18, at which point he will return to Costa Rica from his vacation. He was able to watch the Sounders 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake, the club's fourth shutout in five matches, before he heads home.
“Hopefully when he leaves, we’ll be in first position in MLS,” Gonzalez smiled.