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Ahead of San Jose Earthquakes’ season opener, Almeyda reflects on personal loss

Head coach juggles grieving with work for season.

Los Angeles Galaxy v San Jose Earthquakes

Preseason has been unusual in many ways for the San Jose Earthquakes in 2021. Not only is the season starting later than ever before in MLS, and we’re still living through the COVID pandemic, but head coach Matias Almeyda spent most of preseason in his native Argentina, after the death of his father from coronavirus.

In his first media availability of the year on Wednesday, Almeyda spoke about balancing his personal loss with his job.

“Preseason for me, as everybody knows, was interrupted by the passing of my father,” Almeyda said to reporters through an interpreter. “I had to go back to Argentina. I came back and was able to be in preseason for a week. The guys worked very well, with lots of desire and lots of unity, trying to form a sporting family, which is what I’m most interested in.”

Almeyda was asked to discuss his father and what he was like, which he said he was grateful to do, thanking the reporter for the question.

“Losing my father was the hardest and most painful experience in my life,” Almeyda said. “My father was my friend besides being just my father. It was more than a year that I was unable to see him, I wanted to bring him here to show him the place I live and work at and that was left pending. My father tried teaching me to be a good person. My father, along with my mother, gave me values, many of which I feel the world is missing today. They gave me the tools to have a good life, with respect. They taught me to not steal, to ask, they taught me to be humble. They taught me to love what I do. They taught me to respect others. They taught me how to be a human. They instilled a work ethic within me, but they gave me lots of love.

“So not a day goes by that I don’t miss my father. Knowing I can’t call him anymore, he can’t respond, it gives me sadness. I know he’s in a better place, because of the faith that I have. And I accept this great loss that gave me such sadness and pain,” he added.

Almeyda became visibly emotional while talking about the loss of his father, but otherwise appeared to be in solid spirits in San Jose, with the Earthquakes set to kick off their season Friday against the Houston Dynamo in Texas.

And for a manager who’s engendered so much devotion from his players, it’s little surprise his team is trying to help him as they can in a tough time.

“It’s a very difficult moment, especially when one suffers the loss of a relative,” said midfielder Eric Remedi via interpreter. “We’re just supporting him in any way we can, following his directions on and off the pitch. He knows he has our support, and we know we have his, so we’re just looking to help him out any way we can, staying in constant communication with him, and support him as much as possible.”

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