After suffering through an injury-ridden beginning of the season, it seems Sporting Kansas City have finally found their drive again. Erik Hurtado’s late game-winner led the team to a 1-0 victory over Minnesota United on Thursday night at Children’s Mercy Park.
The 28-year-old’s strike helped Sporting KC preserve their perfect home record against the Loons (5-0-0 in all competitions) and denied Minnesota the opportunity to solidify their hold on second place in the West.
In a possession dominated match, the home side unleashed a total of 22 shot attempts that forced Minnesota’s goalkeeper Vito Mannone into five saves.
In response, Minnesota also forced a spry Tim Melia to make five saves that night. The Loons came close to the opening goal in the 33rd minute when Melia had to make a double save, first parrying aside Hassani Dotson’s shot from distance, then springing to his feet quickly to block Mason Toye’s rebound to keep the game scoreless.
Four minutes later, Graham Zusi challenged Mannone, who pushed his attempt over the crossbar for a corner kick.
KC favorite, Ike Opara made his highly anticipated return to Children’s Mercy Park after a six-year stint with Sporting KC. His presence did not go unnoticed, as he recorded two of the Loon’s 12 shot attempts.
Sporting KC produced several good scoring opportunities but had trouble converting them throughout the second half. IIie Sanchez and Gerso Fernandes entered the match just three minutes apart and made an immediate impact.
In the 88th minute, Johnny Russell’s through ball helped Hurtado finally breakthrough from a tight angle beating the keeper to score the game winner – leading Sporting KC to their second straight win.
With a new sense of energy, Sporting KC will host longtime Western Conference rivals, Houston Dynamo on Saturday, August 31st.
After suffering a tough first half of the season, Sporting Kansas City is finally turning things around in back-to-back shutouts.
It seems the only thing the club will have to claim at customs (as they return home) is three points they earned in a 3-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on the road Saturday night at BC Place.
Gerso Fernandeshelped lift Sporting KC to their second straight win by playing a part in all three goals, having scored two of them himself.
For the first time this season, Peter Vermes fielded the same starting XI he used in the 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire last weekend; giving the backline of Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, Botond Barath, and Seth Sinovic their fourth clean sheet in five regular-season matches as a defensive unit.
Tim Meliareturned to peak performance after recording six saves to earn his 58th win this season – surpassing the record of Jimmy Nielsen and becoming the new all-time leader in wins since joining the club in 2015.
Controlling over 60% possession throughout the match, Sporting KC pressured Vancouver’s defense before finding the opening goal in the 24th minute.
With Sporting KC in search of a second goal and Vancouver looking to level the match, both sides created chances just before the half. The visitors came close to doubling the lead in the 39th minute as Yohan Croizet’s volley was re-directed by Salloi and went straight to MacMath at close range.
Melia came up huge to turn away Inbeom Hwang’s free kick in the 48th minute. Moments later, 19-year-old Homegrown forward Theo Bair‘s shot misses narrowly wide of the post.
Sporting KC kicked it into high gear after the restart. Felipe Gutierrez wasted no time and immediately doubled the lead with a strike from the top of the box; sneaking it in past MacMath in the 56th minute.
The boys continued the fight to close out the game on a good note, something they had struggled with all season-long. The Whitecaps came close to pulling one back in the 76th minute. But Yordy Reyna’s free-kick ricocheted off the post. Sporting KC went on to threaten for a third goal for the duration of the second half; forcing MacMath to make double saves.
Sporting KC subbed in Johnny Russell for the final moments of the match. And right away, the Scottish forward linked up with his Hungarian teammate, playing the ball to Krisztian Nemeth, who cut it back to Fernandes and he squeezes it through for the game-winner – securing all three points.
With two straight wins and only four players on a once injury-riddled roster, Sporting KC sets their sights on getting back above the line for playoffs.
During the post-match interviews, Melia explained:
“Baby steps, right? We’re just trying to build into our better performances. Getting guys back – being able to bring [Johnny Russell] off the bench, someone who is as explosive as him. I mean, right now things are moving in the right direction.”
Sitting in ninth place with 25 points in a tight race in the Western Conference standings, the club will host FC Dallas who sits just above the line with a four-point difference on Saturday, July 20.
Sporting Kansas City finally snapped it’s seven-game winless streak in a thrilling 3-2 win over the Seattle Sounders at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday. Johnny Russell’s hat trick and Tim Melia’s cat-like reflexes sealed the deal.
Even though ten players remain on the injury list, with five totally out, the list is finally shrinking as Vermes nearly sat a full bench. Yohan Croizet started in Krisztian Nemeth’s place, who was out due to a red he picked up in the match against the Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend. And Jimmy Medranda made his triumphant return.
Sporting KC got off to a strong start, attacking the visitor’s side twice, but Stefan Frei was quick to deny both attempts.
Nicolas Hasler provided the spark the team needed for the opening goal by keeping the ball in play in the 29th minute. He slotted it through toCroizet who defeated the defender to find Russell. And Johnny smashed it home!
The team has clearly put a lot of trust in Kelyn Rowe as they helped place him into 1v1 situations. However, all attempts were either denied by Frei or flew over the bar.
Luckily, Russell completely dismantled the Sounders’ defense to double Sporting KC’s lead just before the half.
Shortly after the restart, Raul Ruidiaz pulled one back for the visitors putting the score up 2-1.
Croizet kept it away from the defender, passing it to Kelyn Rowe who sent a cross to Russell in the penalty area. Without hesitation, Russell flicked it into the back of the net, scoring the hat trick in the 68th minute. He is the second player in club history to score two hat tricks. And a bonus fact, his second hat trick came on the same day that Eddie Johnson scored his second hat trick for the club.
However, the celebrations were cut short. Seattle’s Kelvin Leerdam quickly answered Russell’s goal by putting in a header off of a set piece, going straight through SKC’s defense.
With the score now 3-2, Sporting KC went into full gear to protect the goal at any cost. Even seeing an injured captain, who kept grabbing his hamstring for a better part of the half, fight through the pain to help his team. Unfortunately, Besler would call it quits in the 79th minute because of fatigue. Graham Smith would take this place.
But his exit didn’t displace SKC as Melia went on to make a stunning double-save and was later called back into action to deny a Sounder from close range.
Jimmy Medranda, who entered to a standing ovation from the crowd; after spending nearly a year and a half out due to injury, wasted little time to fire a rocket shot at the goal, but it deflected off the post.
A last-minute attempt saw Frei step out to the half to assist his teammates. But it would fail as the ball flew wide of the goal – ending the match in a much needed 3-2 victory for Sporting KC.
Sporting KC will have a quick turnaround as they host the LA Galaxy on Wednesday, May 29.
Sporting Kansas City fell to Atlanta United 3-0; snapping their home unbeaten run on Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park. It was the first time the home team lost to the reigning MLS Cup Champions.
With multiple injuries plaguing the roster – and missing key starters like Matt Besler and Roger Espinoza – Vermes fielded an almost unrecognizable lineup with only five subs available on the bench. Two of which earned their first MLS starts – Graham Smith and Gedion Zelalem (made his club debut). Kelyn Rowe and Botond Barath returned to the starting XI.
Sporting KC kicked off the match with a good opportunity when Graham Zusi unleashed a long-range curler that carried marginally beyond the right-hand post. Shortly thereafter, Atlanta’s Pity Martinez cut centrally onto his left foot and dragged a low shot wide of the near post.
The home side would earn another chance after Krisztian Nemeth could have recorded his 11th off a corner kick by Johnny Russell in the 13th minute, but his glancing header on the edge of the six-yard box missed the mark.
And then it stopped?
With both sides holding close to equal possession and overall passing accuracy, it seemed they locked in a game of keep away, as they passed the ball back-and-forth without creating any solid chances for a full 15 minutes.
*Writer’s note: I’m not suggesting no one was trying to create an opportunity, I just found the situation odd.
Just as it appeared the match would go scoreless into halftime, Josef Martinez opened the scoring for Atlanta in the 39th minute after retrieving the rebound off of Tim Melia at short range. Martinez went down briefly after a collision with the keeper. But he returned to the pitch uninjured to score the game winner in the 76th minute.
Two minutes after the restart, Atlanta doubled the lead. Sporting failed to clear a loose ball at the top of the penalty area and a shot fell invitingly to Ezequiel Barco, who made right-footed strike down the middle into the left side of the post.
Melia did well to deny the 20-year-old nine minutes later, then produced another reflex stop on a strike from Miles Robinson.
Down by two, Sporting KC ran the ball down to try to close the gap and earned two solid opportunities in the process. But as the script goes, Kelyn Rowe’s thunderous effort from the top of the box was blocked and Nemeth’s 22-yard curler skimmed over the woodwork.
In the 65th minute, the energy changed as Ilie entered the match in a double substitution.
Ilie did not appear once in training this past week and he was listed as questionable. So it’s understandable the predicament Vermes was forced into. And one he will probably see himself again:
“The problem is I don’t have the whole team available. It’s not just one guy. When you have a team – and every team has their starters – to then have to supplant all those guys with new players, it’s very hard.”
Regardless, the Spaniard still had a solid attempt shortly after Russell cuts into the middle and forces Guzan into a leaping save with a left-footed curler that bounced off the top corner in the 73rd minute. But the striker couldn’t put his strike within the frame.
Ultimately, it was Martinez’s second goal that gave Sporting KC their first loss of the season at home in a 3-0 deficit.
Even though frustration filled the locker room, the team remains optimistic about the future. Especially with the newcomers earning more playing opportunities:
“I thought the two center backs did a really good job. It’s a quality team with a lot of attacking minded players that are really good at combining and for the most part, till maybe the 70th minute we did a really good job shutting [Atlanta] down.” Melia told the press.
Seth Sinovic added: “I think everyone had their moments. I think everybody got the opportunity to improve, not just the new guys but the experienced guys. And it’s on the experience guys that have not only played a lot of games in the league but a lot of games in a sporting uniform – we have to be better leaders. We got to do a better job and we’re not filling that job right now.”
Next up, Sporting KC will travel to Audi Field to face Wayne Rooney and D.C. United for the first time.
“We have to concentrate on our first day back at training. Making sure we’re doing everything there [..] we build them correctly for the game against [D.C. United],” said Melia. “We just got to get back to being us. And look at one game at a time.”
Sporting Kansas City finally kicked off the regular season at home with a 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union to an electric crowd at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday.
After dropping the MLS season opener in Los Angeles and the first leg in Panama for the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals, Sporting KC switched gears and returned to Kansas City.
Missing Roger Espinoza due to red card suspension and Andreu Fontás to an injury – a reshuffled lineup introduced 16-year-old, Gianluca Busio, the youngest MLS starter in Children’s Mercy Park history.
Busio wasted little time proving his starting role, drawing a penalty kick in the ninth minute after Johnny Russell and Krisztian Nemeth exchanged passes in the penalty area. In a scramble to win the ball, the Union’s Auston Trusty tripped Busio from behind, and referee Chris Penso immediately called the foul. Ilie Sanchez stepped up and converted the penalty kick to give the home side the early lead.
Moments later, the Union would have a chance to equalize after Seth Sinovic was called for handball infraction inside the box, but as luck would have it – goalkeeper Tim Melia was a game changer as he dove low to push away Marco Fabian’s attempt, securing Sporting KC’s 1-0 lead into the half. Melia earned his eighth penalty kick save since joining the club in 2015, surpassing his former mentor; Nick Rimando’s record of five penalty kick saves.
The Union was reduced to 10 men after Fabian received a straight red card in the 60th minute. Graham Zusi sent a thunderous strike to see it miss the goal by inches and bounce off the post. Minutes later, Melia was called back into action catching the ball mid-air off a header by Cory Burke.
The 16-year-old midfielder earned a chance to score his first MLS goal in the 77th minute; after Ilie sent a pass over the top falling to Busio, who then try to run the ball into an open net but was denied by a last-minute save by Trusty.
Own goals. We love own goals.
In the 80th minute, Kelyn Rowe sent a pass to Gerso Fernandes but Philadelphia’s Jack Elliott intercepted the play; and instead of clearing out the danger, Elliott kicked the ball past Blake doubling Sporting’s lead 2-0. Even though it technically wasn’t counted as an assist for Rowe, we’ll make an exception.
The last ten minutes saw both sides exchange passes until the final whistle awarding Sporting KC a 2-0 shutout and three points.
Sporting KC will prepare to host Panamanian side Independent in the decisive second leg of the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals; before going back on the road to face the Colorado Rapids on Sunday, March 17.
Sporting Kansas City is Champions League-ready following the conclusion of their 2019 preseason run with 4-1 and 1-1 results in split-squad matches at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona.
In the first match, Houston Dynamo was quick to take the early lead in the 5th minute, as Alberth Elis picked up a loose ball and fired it past Tim Melia into the bottom corner.
Houston’s short victory did not last long—Johnny Russell curled in a beautiful shot off of a cross by Krisztián Németh to level the match in the 11th minute.
Regaining possession and some confidence, Felipe Gutierrez put Sporting KC back ahead after sliding one in from Seth Sinovic. The goal was initially ruled out for offside but was allowed after the play underwent review from the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
Six minutes later, Németh scored by firing into the corner from Gerso after Sporting KC forced a turnover—bringing the tally up 3-1.
Sinovic came close to adding another goal to Sporting KC’s score—after sending one from down the middle in the 41st minute. However, his chance went straight into Joe Willis’ arms; ending the first half 3-1.
The tide turned as Houston’s Romell Quioto tried to score a corner, but Matt Besler was quick to deny it. Then, a header by Mauro Manotas went straight to Melia. Despite all efforts, Sporting KC’s backline continued to pressure and keep Houston away from the goal as they pushed forward.
Late in the second half, both sides shared a red card each, as first Quioto was shown a straight red for a sliding challenge on Gutierrez, and then Roger Espinoza was ejected for a pair of yellow cards. This forced both teams to play with ten men, but it didn’t stop the momentum.
Just when it seemed the match would end 3-1, Graham Zusi freed Nemeth from the backline, who took the ball and clipped it over Dynamo’s goalkeeper to make the final score 4-1.
In the other split-squad match on a separate field at Kino Sports Complex, Sporting KC battled to a 1-1 draw with Houston Dynamo.
Similar to the first game, both sides traded plays until Yohan Croizet opened up the scoring for Sporting KC with a right-footed, 30-yard strike. Shortly after the break, Memo Rodriguez got the equalizer. After a chippy half, the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
Sporting KC will continue to train in Arizona before returning to a chilly Kansas City to host Toluca FC on Thursday, Feb. 21 for the first-leg of the Champions League.
Sporting Kansas City‘s 2018 season came to an abrupt end on Thursday night in a devastating season-ending 3-2 loss against the Portland Timbers in leg two of the Western Conference Final at Children’s Mercy Park.
In front of a sold-out, energetic crowd Sporting KC delivered a solid performance filled with chances, goals and controversial calls.
Sporting KC kicked off the match maintaining strong possession that later helped Daniel Salloi earn the chance to claim an early lead for the home side in the 20th minute.
However, things turned sour quickly after the restart when Sebastian Blanco blasted a strike into the top corner, to level the match in the 52nd. Blanco’s strike would stun fans and even fellow captainDiego Valeri – who gained a surge of energy to double the Timbers lead nine minutes later.
Now trailing 2-1, the home side had to rally quick. In the 81st minute, Sporting KC would get a glimpse of hope as Gerso Fernandes scored the equalizer after a brilliant combination from the team. On the cusp, of potentially scoring another goal to advance, the match went into sudden death for the final remainder of the half.
Despite all effort, Sporting KC’s offseason would begin deep into a grueling nine-minute stoppage time after Valeri’s breakaway finish – claiming the Western Conference Champion title and stamping the Timber’s ticket to the MLS Cup.
As fans thanked one another for their dedication, several Sporting KC players took to Twitter to express their disappointment and gratitude:
It's hard to find the words tonight. Work all season for nothing at all. It is a painful feeling. A big thank you to our supporters for the unconditional support all season long. You stay the best for us. A big thank you to my teammates, staff and all the people in the club…
Even Daniel Salloi appeared to have hinted to be returning to the Blue Hell next season following speculation of transfer rumors for Europe:
Such an amazing season and it deserved a better ending. We’ll learn from our mistakes and get back even stronger. Thanks for your unbelievable support, I love everything about this team and proud to wear this jersey 💙 Happy Holidays my friends! ⚽️ #DS20pic.twitter.com/0m7x6l9CoC
Not even 24 hours after the loss, the club dug a little deeper into fans’ wounds by announcing which players have had contract options declined: forward Kharlton Belmar, midfielder Cristian Lobato, defenders Amer Didic, Brad Evans and Colton Storm.
At the end of the day, the contract options didn’t come as a shock to fans, since most of the core group (Matt Belser, Graham Zusi, Seth Sinovic, Roger Espinoza, and Ilie Sanchez) had recently re-signed. And with the addition of long-time veterans like goalkeeper Tim Melia, next season is shaping up to be a promising one.
Sporting Kansas City earns a scoreless draw against Portland Timbers for leg one of the Western Conference Finals at Providence Park on Sunday night. Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and the rest of the top-seeded team shutout Portland in front of a sold-out crowd.
Despite ending in a draw, this match had no shortage of drama. Tim Melia was immediately called into action just a few seconds after the whistle blew – arguably setting the tone of the game. Melia would go on to record six saves, a clean sheet, and a first postseason shutout. Including, the final save that would decide the faith of the game.
Is the curse of the post finally broken? Maybe. In the sixth minute, Timber’s defender Jorge Villafana sends a low ball towards the ball only to see his effort bounce off the post that helped Portland win the knock round match in 2015.
Portland was forced to make an early sub in the 18th minute when Bill Tuilmoa replaced Larrys Mabiala. However, the early substitution did not slow Portland down as they continued to press Sporting KC’s defense. Fortunately, with the fast reactions from Melia, Zusi, and Besler, they were able to take Sporting KC into the half scoreless under pressure.
Sporting KC appeared to have adjusted from a choppy first half when Johnny Russell gets a great first touch after the restart. However, he sees his chance fly over the bar. Russell again would create more opportunities throughout the second half but fail to capitalize on his chances.
Russell was not the only one who almost opened the scoring. Ten minutes after Russell’s first attempt, Seth Sinovic struck in a 20-yard volley going straight into Jeff Attinella‘s arms – marking his first save of the night.
Portland came close to taking the lead in the 70th minute after David Guzman was able to get past Melia after Liam Ridgewell’s header came off the post, following a scramble in the box. However, Guzman’s goal was called offsides, giving Sporting KC a sign of relief. Still scoreless with less than 20 minutes of regular time, both sides pursued.
Timbers think they finally have the break through they need but the goal is called back after a late offside call. pic.twitter.com/Syrjl7ErXq
Manager Peter Vermes made an out-of-character decision to sub in Yohan Croizet for Russell in the last minute of stoppage time. Croizet’s addition did not make much of a difference as they ended the first leg in a scoreless draw.
Sporting KC will now host the Portland Timbers for leg two of the Western Conference Final on Thursday, November 29.
The race for the playoffs continues as Sporting Kansas City remains in second place in the Western Conference as they settle for a 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake on Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park. The dramatic match saw goals from Ike Opara and rookie forward Corey Baird.
Sporting KC kicked off the match by coming close to scoring early after the whistle blew when Felipe Gutierrez finds the ball. Then Sporting KC earned a great set piece, thanks to a foul by Nick Besler – Matt Besler’s little brother – on Kristian Nemeth. However, Zusi’s curler goes over the crossbar.
Then the tide turned as Damir Kreilach ran the ball down but was stopped by Gerso Fernandes and Opara twice during the 7th minute.
A minute later, Jefferson Savarino runs the ball straight through Sporting KC’s defense to Baird, who then takes the early goal for the visitors giving RSL a 1-0 lead.
Sporting KC was quick to respond by creating a few opportunities but fell flat. RSL came close to doubling their lead, however, Tim Melia was able to misdirect RSL to the right of the goal post.
Trailing by one, Sporting KC consistently pressured RSL’s defense searching for the equalizer. But the home side would see most opportunities get deflected by goalkeeper Nick Rimando – who came up huge having recorded six saves.
The home side would have a chance to level just three minutes after the restart when Gutierrez found Graham Zusi with a diagonal ball, and Zusi sent in a low cross from the right side, but Rimando deflected the ball over the bar in a full stretch.
Opara sparked life back into the game by leveling the match with a perfect header over Rimando off a corner during the 52nd minute.
With the match leveled, the action escalated. Fast.
Opara’s equalizer sparked life into the match, as Sporting KC got their momentum back. But RSL almost saw a chance go begging in the 58th minute when Melia turned away Savarino’s long-distance sledgehammer.
The visitors would go much closer in the 73rd minute, however, when Baird culminated another devastating counter with a chip shot over Melia that caromed off the crossbar.
Sporting KC threatened twice, only for Rimando to intervene on both occasions. Second-half substitute Diego Rubio slipped a lovely pass in behind the RSL defense for Gerso Fernandes in the 81st minute, but the winger’s first touch allowed the RSL goalkeeper to race off his line and extinguish the danger.
Six minutes later, Zusi found Rubio near the penalty spot, but the Chilean’s side-footed attempt through traffic was blocked by Rimando’s extended left foot.
Sporting KC scrambled for the final moments of the match looking to increase their goal but despite all efforts had to split points with the Western Conference foe.
Now Sporting KC will aim at a chance for the playoffs when they host LA Galaxy on Saturday, October 6.
From denying big-name players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Diego Valeri, the buzz surrounding Tim Melia continues to grow with each game. And this upcoming Saturday’s match against Orlando City SC will be no different.
This past weekend, Sporting Kansas City fell to the Seattle Sounders 3-1, but the team will not let the loss deter them from facing Orlando City:
“There’s going to be wins, losses, and ties throughout what we’re trying to build. And coming back home to play against Orlando is just another opportunity to continue to build off of our goal and making sure we’re playing our best soccer coming into the season,” Melia said.
Melia even shared a similar sentiment regarding the team’s mentality with playoffs just around the corner:
“I think we’re all mature enough not to get roped into the game-to-game, these games at the end of the season are so important, especially with how tight the western conference is. And just making sure we’re getting points and keeping ourselves in a position that we want to be in.”
Going into his fourth season with the club, Melia is currently the reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and is leading the league with a career-high 11 shutouts. Including, having earned various accolades such as MLS Best XI 2017, an ESPY nomination for Best MLS player, Player of the Week, etc.
“Accolades are great. You always trade them in for an MLS Cup or a Supporters Shield, CONCACAF, Open Cup because the individual rewards are reflective of the team and the effort of the whole group,” Melia continued. “I’m fortunate to be on a team that concentrates first on defense and it builds from the back and looks to really have that anchor in the back – that we’re going to be a good defensive team first.”
It’s tough to believe this Great River native was once traveling across the county visiting various teams working as a League Pool Goalkeeper before landing in Kansas City.
The 32-year-old has paid his dues with Real Salt Lake (2010-2011) and Chivas USA (2012-2014), serving as back-up for MLS All-Stars Nick Rimando and Dan Kennedy.
Aside from creating a high-profile career in KC, Melia has also dabbled in design – and inspired a line of gloves and athletic gear for West Coast Goalkeeping company.
Prior to joining Sporting KC, Melia reached out to West Coast Goalkeeping’s owner, Sean Norris, after being dropped from a previous glove company.
“[Sean] took me in right away [and] offered me the opportunity to design my own glove. I wasn’t even a starter at the time – that’s the type of company they are. They are big believers in developing those kinds of relationships early on.”
Even though, Melia doesn’t have any interest in pursuing design as a postgame career option. I think Melia will have plenty to look forward to in the near future. Earning recognition isn’t the only thing changing in Melia’s life, last year Melia and his wife, welcomed their first child, Rowan.
Most players look to certain family members or a particular goal for motivation, for Melia his daughter is his biggest motivator.
“It gives you more to really want to succeed for you; you’re not doing things just for you or your wife, you’re doing things for your family,” Melia said.
Along with finding new inspiration, parenthood has also taught him the importance of balancing work life:
“Having [a] strong family bond to concentrate on is beneficial in a sense – your mind is not solely focused on soccer. You need to be able to step back from things, give yourself a mental break because if it’s only this all day long [or] all night, it can wear you down.”
When asked if he has plans to train his daughter to become a keeper in the near future, Melia jokingly replied: “Absolutely not.”
While Melia continues to navigate parenthood, his goal for the club remains the same, as the team looks to secure a playoff spot in a tight race for the Western Conference.