MLS Works Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer
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MLS WORKS to Host Second Annual Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Match
Special Olympics Unified Sports soccer players to compete in East vs. West match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
On Tuesday, July 28, the second annual Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Match, presented by MLS WORKS, took place at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Held just prior to the 2015 Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game.
The game featured an East vs. West All-Star format with Unified players, representing 13 of the MLS clubs, wearing uniforms provided by adidas. The two Unified Sports soccer teams (comprised of players both with and without intellectual disabilities) will play a 7-v-7 small-sided match, consisting of two 20-minute halves.
The Western Conference All-Stars defeated the Eastern Conference All-Stars, 3-2. Eleven MLS teams sent Special Olympics athletes and Unified Partners to the all-star match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. The Colorado Rapids Special Olympics all star representatives were: West All-Stars Head Coach Phil Knight, Unified Partner Azur Ewari (Legend HS), Unified Partner Claire Green (Rock Canyon HS), Special Olympics athlete Sam Villela (North HS alum), and Special Olympics athlete Luke Davidson (Thornton HS alum).
The East All-Stars were led by Jared Hoekstra of the Chicago Fire and Special Olympics Illinois. Jared scored both goals for East in the first half. Simbarashe Masango of the Seattle Sounders/Special Olympics Washington Unified Team got West on the board shortly after Hoekstra’s first goal in the third minute of play. Azur Ewari of the Colorado Rapids/Special Olympics Colorado answered with the equalizer in the second half. Keifer Hoffman of Special Olympics Washington scored the game-winner with just under four minutes left in the match.
MLS on-air talent Brian Dunseth participated in the festivities as a sideline reporter, providing color commentary and interviews with players and coaches throughout the match. Colorado Rapids players will also be on-hand as celebrity coaches, while LA Galaxy and U.S. national team legend Landon Donovan presented the Special Olympic athletes and the Unified Partners with medals following the game.
The match will showcase the Unified Sports exchange program that is the cornerstone of the ongoing partnership between MLS and Special Olympics North America. Through the Unified Sports soccer exchange program, Unified soccer teams from MLS cities travel to other MLS markets to receive training from MLS players and coaches, as well as compete in exhibition matches with their Special Olympics counterparts in that MLS market. Unified matches are scheduled in conjunction with MLS club matches, providing MLS fans with an opportunity to witness first-hand, the talents and abilities of Special Olympics soccer players.
Two athletes, two partners and a coach from Special Olympics Colorado participated in the Unified All-Star soccer match. Player roster and bios can be found by CLICKING HERE.
Colorado athletes are:
Blue 3 – Samual Villela
Blue 6 – Claire Green
White 5 – Azur Ewari
White 1 goalie in orange – Luke Davidson
The athletes, unified partners and coaches also participated in a halftime recognition during the 2015 AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Also part of the week’s experience was a hike at the famous Red Rocks Park, a community service day at Food Bank of the Rockies, and a clinic with the Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League.