It's been a rough debut season in MLS for FC Cincinnati and the Ohioans took another body blow in Saturday's 5-1 loss to Toronto FC. But their consolation goal was a special moment, packed with meaning for Emmanuel Ledesma and his family.
The Argentinean playmaker's father passed away on Thursday, and through a variety of circumstances, never got a chance to see his son play soccer. So when he rifled home FCC's penalty kick in the 90th minute, Ledesma was overcome with emotion, shedding tears and displaying a heartfelt message to his departed parent: "Te voy a extrañar papá" ("I'm going to miss you, dad").
"I was thinking about bringing him over next year so that he could see me play for the first time, but that happens when you play with time," Ledesma told The Cincinnati Enquirer postgame. "You don't play with time. Time has taken him away from me and today. I mourn him.
"He was in Argentina and I’ve lost him. I dedicate it to him, who's never seen me play soccer, not even when I was a child due to circumstances in life," he added. "Due to circumstances in life, he had surgery about a month ago and could not travel ... I think that somewhere in heaven he is watching me and I want to dedicate this goal to him."
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Ledesma went on to reveal that after learning earlier in the week that he would not start against TFC, he asked head coach Ron Jans for a chance as a substitute, so he could pay tribute to his father in the most powerful way possible.
“I say, ‘If you have any chance to put me on, please give me that chance because I have to score for him. I have to respect him from far away,’” said the well-traveled midfielder, who has spent most of his career overseas. “I want to say thank you to the coach for giving me that opportunity and thank you to the teammates to giving me the ball to kick the penalty.”