Sporting Kansas City announced they had mutually agreed with goalkeeper Luis Marin to terminate his contract Wednesday morning. The first assumption by most was that he was not performing well and was upset with losing the starting spot to backup Tim Melia. Maybe the Chilean keeper had developed an attitude and needed to be gone?
According to manager Peter Vermes, that was not the case at all.
"He had a personal family issue that came up," Vermes explained. "He came to me and asked if I understand that he needs to move on because he needs to take care of something with his family and he can't do it with him in the United States. He had to be in Chile. I have to respect a situation like that and I did. That's it."
Marin approached Vermes after the game Saturday night to discuss the situation. "We had a long talk about it and I understand. I was not going to stand in his way. When foreign players have situations and they need to be away for a couple days I let them do that. I know what it's like to be a foreign player in a different country."
In the past, Vermes has let a number of players leave to take care of personal business, illness in family, deaths, getting families and bringing them back. Most were gone for a day or two, some longer. One foreign player was gone for a few weeks taking care of his family after his mother passed away.
Letting Marin leave for a few days to take care of the issue was an option. "We discussed all these different variations and he said he can't do it, doesn't feel comfortable and I respect that," Vermes explained.
Sporting KC's goalkeeping coach John Pascarella felt sorry that it got this bad for Marin. "He has mentioned a few times how his daughter is sad," Pascarella noted. "Maybe something got lost in the translation where I didn't realize how bad it was and how difficult it was on the family. We are only on this earth for a short period of time and family is an important piece of it and I don't hold any grudges and I don't blame the guy for taking his family first."
Pascarella thought that Marin missing his family and his family badly missing him affected Marin's ability to do his best. "I don't think there is any doubt," Pascarella stated. "If you are a little unsettled off the field then it's going to be more difficult on the field for sure."
Marin's family came up to visit before the start of the season and the difference in the keeper when they were around was obvious.
At the Sporting Evolution event to introduce the new primary kit and the team, Marin dutifully answered questions from the media before the event started. He was professional but subdued.
A few minutes later that all changed. As Sporting KC players prepared to come out and be introduced as the 2015 team, a woman with a little girl moved up near the front of the stage. When Marin was introduced and came on stage, he looked around and when he saw the little girl, a smile came across his face and his whole demeanor changed. As soon as he got off the stage and out of his jersey, the father and daughter were inseparable.
While being away from his family may have been a distraction for Marin, Pascarella was convinced that Marin was doing the best he could. "You could see it in training; he was always giving everything he had. You could see it in games when he was on the bench, when we scored a late goal and he was the first guy jumping up and down. Heck he ran on the field and almost got suspended. He was fully invested (in Sporting KC), it just didn't work out for him and his family unfortunately."
When Marin decided to leave home and come to Kansas City, it seems he misjudged how much his family would miss him and how much he would miss his family.
Soccer, as in all sports is a result based business and Marin will not be remembered in Kansas City as a great keeper.
But more importantly, remember him as a father that could not bear to be away from his family.