MLS Commissioner Don Garber cancelled his plans to attend FIFA's glittering Ballon d'Or in order to participate in 'Soccer Night in Newtown,' an MLS-sponsored program in Newtown, Conn., to support the grief-striken community where 20 first-graders and six were massacred by a gunman with an automatic weapon on December 14.
The program, only open to Newtown residents and members of the Newtown Youth Soccer Club, is scheduled for Monday, January 7.
The Newtown horror has shaken the American public and highlighted concerns about the safety of schools and the violence and alienation in U.S. culture.
Soccer Night in Newtown
In "Soccer Night in Newtown," local families and children will meet MLS and U.S. national team stars, play in small-sided games and spend an afternoon thinking about the beautiful game rather than the nightmarish recent events.
Thirty MLS players from 11 teams will participate in the Newtown program, including the Houston Dynamo’s Brad Davis and Brian Ching, the LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan, the New York Red Bulls' Kenny Cooper, the New England Revolution’s Matt Reis, and the San Jose Earthquakes’ Marcus Tracy, who grew up in Newtown and whose mother once taught at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
US national team stars, including Tony Meola, Alexi Lalas, Mia Hamm, and Connecticut native Kristine Lilly will also help out.