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CJ Sapong to miss Saturday’s Chicago Fire match for the best reason

After months in the NICU, his daughter is home from the hospital

Columbus Crew SC v Chicago Fire
CJ Sapong
Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

CJ Sapong’s last couple months had to be stressful, to be sure.

In August, the Chicago Fire forward became a dad. His fiancee gave birth to a baby girl, who was born premature. But, after spending two months in the NICU, his daughter was able to leave the hospital this week, and is at home in California.

Sapong flew out to California to be with his daughter, and his Instagram feed has been filled with adorable videos of her. Whenever he gets back to Chicago, CJ will have to adhere to the MLS health and safety protocol, meaning at a minimum, he’ll miss this Saturday’s match against the New York Red Bulls at Soldier Field, and the away match at Philadelphia on Oct. 28.

Yes, the Fire will miss him as a scoring threat while they make a playoff push. But, this is about something much larger than soccer, and it’s great to see the old fashioned idea that players need to be there for their team rather than taking care of family issues seems to be fading away.

After scoring against D.C. United, Sapong talked to reporters about the situation, saying that soccer has actually been his “channel to happiness,” providing an escape to the stress he was dealing with in his personal life.

“It’s been a whirlwind for sure, externally,” Sapong said. “But I give credit to the different practices that I have taken on throughout my career and my life. I am pretty fortunate to say that I’ve been able to stay pretty grounded through it all. I’m somebody that when trial and tribulation hits me, I kind of try to transmute that into something positive. It ends up actually providing fuel to the fire.”

Whenever he returns, Sapong will no doubt be relaxed and ready to help the Fire. Until that happens, he’s right where he needs to be.