MLS is stepping up to support the bereaved community of Newtown, Conn., where a heavily armed young man invaded Sandy Hook elementary school and massacred 20 first graders and six female teachers and staff with an automatic weapon on December 14, by sponsoring a program called "Soccer Night in Newtown" on January 7.
Through "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 horror of recent events. The benefit is open only to Newtown residents and members of the Newtown Youth Soccer Club.
Through MLS W.O.R.K.S., 30 MLS players from 11 teams will participate, including Houston’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 Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas, Mia Hamm, and Connecticut native Kristine Lilly, will also take part.
“When CNN first stated how many people lost their lives, it was complete shock and disbelief,' said the Earthquakes' former Newtown resident Marcus Tracy. "It was unfathomable to think that this happened in the same town I lived in for 18 years, two miles away, at the school my Mom once taught at. It hurts you as a resident of Newtown that something like this could happen, so just try and imagine how parents, brothers, sisters and spouses are feeling right now. You can't - it's impossible."
Houston Dynamo president Chris Canetti, originally from Guilford, Conn. and alumni of Quinnipiac University, initiated the project. On the Monday after the shooting, Canetti got in touch with Eric Da Costa, head coach of the Quinnipiac's men's soccer soccer team. Da Costa reached out to youth soccer people in the area, including the Connecticut Football Club youth program, to help organize a benefit program to support the children and adults in the community.
Players participating in Soccer Night in Newtown:
Zach Loyd, Bobby Warshaw
Corey Ashe, Brad Davis, Brian Ching, Ricardo Clark, Tally Hall
Landon Donovan, Sean Franklin, Rafael Garcia
New England Revolution
Kevin Alston, Darrius Barnes, Hunter Freeman, Ryan Guy, Matt Reis, Clyde Simms, Chris Tierney, Bobby Shuttleworth
New York Red Bulls
Kenny Cooper, Heath Pearce, Ryan Meara
Chris Albright, Ray Gaddis
Real Salt Lake
San Jose Earthquakes
David Estrada, Josh Ford
Brad Knighton , Omar Salgado
US Men’s Legends
Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas, Eric Wynalda, Mike Burns, Tony Meola
US Women’s Legends
Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Christie Rampone