Often times fans look at athletes in a different light. Fans are passionate about what happens on the field but ultimately what happens between the lines is the players' jobs. How do we reconcile that? We do it by imagining that despite the fact they may have grown up elsewhere or played for our rivals last year, that they CARE about our feelings. That they want to succeed not just for themselves but for US as well. Maybe we lie to ourselves. It can feel like that sometimes. But maybe JUST maybe there are a few of these athletes that do care about us.
You'd be hard pressed to find a MLS player who isn't connected to the fan base and city. Maybe it's just the soccer culture.
Recently, Dynamo supporter Leo Ponce Jr. passed away way too young. Leo was arguably the biggest Dynamo fan ever. He wrote a couple of times for Total MLS and I really wish I had come to know him better. Everyone that knew him, he left an impact on them. You can see it in tributes from media, fans, and Dynamo players.
Dynamo captain Giles Barnes knew Leo through his times covering the team and rooting them on as a fan, wherever they may be playing. In Saturday night's win over Sporting Kansas City, Barnes wore Leo's initials, LP, on his captain's armband. After scoring the Dynamo opener, Barnes paid tribute to Leo.
Yes, that was an amazing gesture but sometimes it's the things players do that you don't see that tell the type of person they are. After the game, the Dynamo brought Leo's family on the field near the goal where the players exit the field for the locker room. Every player greeted the family and paid their respects. Barnes was the last one off the field, after giving his post game "Man of the Match" interview. Barnes greeted each family member with a hug and came to Leo's mom last. He embraced her, like he'd known her his whole life. He then removed his captain's armband, the one with Leo's initials and placed it around her arm. Getting to witness this moment is not something I'll soon forget. This, this is why we love sports.
Houston and it's soccer community lost someone that will never be replaced. Leo was definitely smiling down after the Dynamo dispatched of old rivals Kansas City. He may have shed a tear at the classy gesture shown by the team's captain. He wouldn't have been the only one.