FRISCO, Texas – It wasn’t his first day back at practice. Diego Chara had returned to normal programming on Monday at the adidas Timbers Training Center in Beaverton, Oregon. But Tuesday’s training session in Frisco – the Portland Timbers’ last before their Knockout Round match against FC Dallas in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs (6:30pm PT, ROOT SPORTS) – was the Timbers midfielder’s first time away from home since the arrival of his twins, who wife Sindy Lenis gave birth to last Thursday in Portland.
“The family is doing great - extremely well,” Chara said, speaking from the training fields outside Toyota Stadium. The Charas already had two daughters, Mariajose and Allison, the eldest of which moved along with her parents shortly after Diego signed with Portland in 2011.
“Everybody is so happy, right now. We all feel like this has been such a gift from God, and it reminds how fortunate we are to have such a blessed family under our roof.”
Between Thursday and Sunday, Chara was excused from the team, tending to family first, making this first venture from Portland particularly poignant. Back on the road with his teammates, the Timbers icon was able to reflect on missing the trip to Vancouver.
“It was a little tough, because, of course, you always want to help the team on the field,” he conceded, in Spanish, even if his tone was never far from what was most important. “But at that moment, family had to come first. The team was very supportive, and we knew that we were going to have a chance to play again, in the playoffs, and now, we’re ready for that challenge.”
Chara initially revealed his wife’s pregnancy to the public on Aug. 29, when he celebrated his season’s first goal against Toronto FC, by putting the game ball underneath his jersey during his celebration. Between that match and Vancouver, the Portland mainstay had only missed one game, having been rested for the team’s Sept. 1 trip to New England.
This Wednesday, should he play, leaves Chara 10 days between starts, providing a unique obstacle to his brief paternity leave.
“It is a little difficult, but also, but at the same time, we know we have a tough opponent in Dallas,” he explained, “and we also know that if we focus and play well, we can win.”
Should victory come, it would be another chapter in what’s been a standout season for Chara, one that initially began with him recovering from a foot injury. Since his return, though, Chara has reminded many why he’s been, over the course of his Major League Soccer career, one of the team’s most important players.
With the arrival of their new sons, even more so than Diego’s play on the field, 2018 has truly been an unforgettable year for the Charas.