Sporting KC 'keeper Jimmy Nielsen got his first-ever red card against Chicago.
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Father's Day treat for Sporting's Nielsen: a home game

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Any father who is a soccer fan knows that balancing daddy duties while trying to "find the football” can be a difficult trick to pull off. Juggling Saturday matches on TV with your child’s Saturday games at the local park can often mean sacrificing one for the other.

Imagine just how harder it can be to reconcile family and soccer as an actual professional soccer player. When the game isn’t just two hours on the couch but four days on the road, keeping up with daddy duties can be difficult. Just ask Sporting Kansas City 'keeper Jimmy Nielsen.

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“In this country you travel long distances a lot and you’re away from the family a lot of times,” Nielsen said. “But when I’m back home, I try to spend as much time as possible with the kids and my wife.”

As you might guess, it’s Mrs. Nielsen who takes on a lot of the weight of parenthood while the Danish netminder is on the road.

“Lucky for me, with our visa situation, my wife isn’t allowed to work,” laughs Nielsen, “so she takes good care of the kids while I’m away.”

Although there are a myriad of high-tech ways to keep in touch with the family while on the road — Skype, Facetime and a variety of instant message and video chat services — the Nielsens like to talk the old-fashioned way. According to Nielsen, the family “talks on the phone 20 times a day sometimes.”

But family life isn’t always a long-distance relationship. When the team plays at home, it’s a family affair.

“The kids come to all the games,” Nielsen said. “My 13 year-old has been forced out to the stadium since she was three months old. She’s a teenager now, so she says she hates it, but I think she kind of likes it anyway.”