Osvaldo Alonso last saw his father more than eight years ago when the Seattle Sounders midfielder made the fateful decision to defect to the United States while Cuba was playing in the Gold Cup. The story of Alonso's journey from virtually penniless refugee to one of the top players in MLS has been well chronicled.
He's since been reunited with his girlfriend (now wife), helped get his mother and sister situated in Miami and he's even an American citizen.
But one thing he hasn't been able to do is see his father. That will change in the next couple weeks. Alonso's father has secured a visa and already scheduled a flight to Seattle.
"I'm very excited to see my father again," Alonso said on Thursday. "It's always tough when you have family down there, but I have an opportunity to see him."
When Alonso decided to defect in 2007, he did so without being able to give a proper goodbye to his father, who was working in Venezuela at the time and was understandably shaken by the news.
"I told him that I defected and he started crying," said Alonso, acknowledging he knew there was a possibility they'd never see each other again. "But he's happy to see me in the US, to see me play again."
Being able to watch Alonso play in person will likely be extra satisfying. It was Alonso's father, after all, who helped make the family game soccer, instead of the more traditional Cuban sport of baseball.
"He always played soccer," Alonso said. "I looked at him like a hero."