For an event that started off small and with a phone call between Houston Dynamo President Chris Canetti and Quinnipiac men’s soccer coach Eric Da Costa, ended up being a big success. “Soccer Night in Newtown” ended up being bigger than anyone had imagined.
With the original vision in mind to be about the families of Newtown and those affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy and not about an autograph session, 40 soccer players from the MLS and U.S. National Teams showed up for a great night on Jan. 7.
Because of the event taking place indoors, some people from the Newtown community had to be turned away, but Canetti insisted that the support for Newtown won’t stop after Monday (the day of the event). Canetti alluded that there might be at least another event for Newtown.
“We said from day one that we didn’t want to be one and done, just come into the community, do something and move on,” Canetti said. “And the event tonight became bigger than we ever thought, but we want to do something special one more time. At least.”
After the event Canetti tweeted, “#SoccerNightInNewtown was amazing. The players were incredible. The families were appreciative. The scene was fun 4 all. We'll never forget.”
Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber cancelled earlier plans to attend the Ballon d'Or awards for this event. Garber and the MLS helped get every MLS team involved and represented, and he was very supportive of how the event went.
"To think we could get 40 players in the offseason to come from all over the U.S. and come here to try and brighten the day of some families who've been through some terrible, tragic times," Garber said. "The kids are having a good time. Our players are having a good time. This is what I love about MLS. It's what makes me the proudest. I wouldn't compare our players to any players in any sport here or abroad."
The Philadelphia Union was originally going to be represented by Ray Gaddis and Chris Albright. However, Michael Lahoud also made the trip to Newton.
Gaddis tweeted following the special event.
“An amazing event I was blessed to be a part of #SoccerNightInNewtown.”
Lahoud, who announced a day before he would be attended, also tweeted following the conclusion of the event.
“Had an awesome time at the Soccer Night in Newtown event. Always good to support MarcusGTracy and Newtown, CT.”