Twenty-four hours of travel from London to Los Angeles, Calif. capped with a familiar and special family moment.
Phoenix Rising FC player Jon Bakero greeted his family in the hotel lobby on game day morning ahead of their early August match against LA Galaxy II
“I haven’t seen them since January so I’m really excited to have them over and spend some time,” said Bakero. “Obviously family is far away from me. So I’m really happy to see them.”
The Spaniard and his family picked up right where they left off with smiles, and a jumping embrace between Bakero and his five-year-old godson, whose name is also Jon.
“We always follow Jon round,” said Celia Colletta, Jon’s cousin. “”Last year we didn’t get a chance to see him in Chicago or Toronto.” Bakero played college soccer in Wake Forest and is currently on loan to Phoenix Rising FC from MLS team Toronto FC.
The family spent some time together during the afternoon before the game, before parting for evening while Bakero preps for his opponent.
Bakero was not in the starting lineup against LA Galaxy II.
“He’s hoping that he’ll come on maybe like second half,” said Colletta. “I think mainly because we’re here and he’d like to show off a bit.”
Like every great sports story, Bakero was subbed into the game, a provided a game-changing assist to teammate Junior Flemmings, who scored the tying goal.
Phoenix Rising FC went on to win the game 3-2 on a goal by midfielder Joey Calistri.
“Amazing! What a finish,” said Colletta. “I thought it was a cracking game. He did what he needed to do when he came on.”
A modest Bakero met up with his family post-game. By then, his godson, Jon, was fighting to stay awake.
“It’s great. Happy to help the team and glad they were here for the win,” said Bakero.
Bakero’s family was only getting started. The Collettas vacationed in California for the following week, before traveling to Phoenix to experience a Phoenix Rising home match at Casino Arizona Field.
In total, more than 11,000 miles traveled for the Colletta family to cheer on their favorite footballer.
“It’s great to see how much they love me and that they’re willing to come out,” said Bakero. “I’m just really excited to see them and spend some time with them.”