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Major League Soccer


December 31, 2012
30 players, past and present, will partake in Soccer Night in Newtown on Jan. 7

Heath Pearce will represent the Red Bulls along with Kenny Cooper and Ryan Meara at Soccer Night in Newtown.
Heath Pearce will represent the Red Bulls along with Kenny Cooper and Ryan Meara at Soccer Night in Newtown.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The list of players who will participate in Soccer Night in Newtown on Jan. 7 has grown.

What started with Houston Dynamo players has grown into more tha 30 soccer players, past and present, that will bring some joy to Newtown, Conn. next Monday.

Twenty-six people, including 20 school children, died in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14.

The event is the brainchild of Dynamo president Chris Canetti, a Quinnipiac University graduate who grew up in Connecticut and decided to hold an event that would "help out a community that's hurting right now."

On the Monday after the shooting, Canetti got in touch with one of the only people he still knew connected to the Connecticut soccer scene: Eric Da Costa, head coach of the Quinnipiac University soccer men's soccer team. Da Costa got the ball rolling, reaching out to youth soccer people in the area, including the Connecticut Football Club youth program, and suddenly things were in motion.

The event is open only to Newtown residents and members of the Newtown Youth Soccer Club. Local families and children will be able to 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 ugliness of recent events.

More than 30 MLS players will be involved, including Houston’s Brad Davis and Brian Ching, LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan, New England Revolution’s Matt Reis, and San Jose Earthquakes’ Marcus Tracy, who grew up in Newtown.

Striker Kenny Cooper, goalkeeper Ryan Meara and defender Heath Pearce will represent the Red Bulls.

“I'm looking forward to getting together with players from around the league and supporting the community of Newtown,” Cooper said. “Hopefully we can help put some smiles on their faces and have some fun kicking the soccer ball around."

Added Pearce: "It’s hard to imagine what the families of the victims and the community must be going through at this time. Nothing we do can change the outcome of the events, but we will do whatever we can to support them and help in any way possible.”

Red Bulls General Manager Jerome de Bontin is one who can relate first hand to the tragedy, trailing back to his days spent living in and visiting the Chicago area.

For the past 27 years, de Bontin has played soccer with a close group of friends on a field in a northern suburb of Chicago. Nick Corwin Park, named after a first-grader who was shot in a 1988 school shooting in Winnetka, Ill., has stood as a reminder to de Bontin and his friends each and every time they have stepped onto the pitch. The park is home to the local youth soccer programs.

“Although the shooting in Winnetka took place over 20 years ago, you never forget the impact an incident like that can have on a community,” de Bontin said. “The Red Bulls have already responded to a number of requests from various groups in Newtown, and we will continue to do so for as long as they need our support.”

U.S. national team stars, including Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas, Tony Meola, Mia Hamm and Connecticut native Kristine Lilly also pledged their support.

The participating players:

Columbus Crew

Ethan Finlay

FC Dallas

Zac Loyd, Bobby Warshaw

Houston Dynamo

Corey Ashe, Brad Davis, Brian Ching, Ricardo Clark, Tally Hall

LA Galaxy

Landon Donovan, Sean Franklin, Rafael Garcia,

New England Revolution

Kevin Alston, Darrius Barnes, Ryan Guy, Matt Reis, Clyde Simms, Chris Tierney, Bobby Shuttleworth

New York Red Bulls

Kenny Cooper, Heath Pearce, Ryan Meara

Philadelphia Union

Chris Albright, Ray Gaddis

Real Salt Lake

Kwame Watson-Siriboe

San Jose Earthquakes

Marcus Tracy

Seattle Sounders

David Estrada, Josh Ford

Vancouver Whitecaps

Brad Knighton , Omar Salgado, Matt Watson

U.S. men’s legends

Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas, Eric Wynalda, Mike Burns, Tony Meola

U.S. women’s legends

Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Christie Rampone
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