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MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative, in collaboration with ESPN and Special Olympics, kicked-off the 2018 Special Olympics Unified Sports Soccer Exchange Program. Unified soccer teams, comprised of players with and without intellectual disabilities, travel from their home city to other MLS markets to compete in exhibition matches with their Special Olympics counterparts.

On Friday, July 13th, Philadelphia Union's Unified Team consisting of Special Olympics Pennsylvania Interscholastic Unified Sports athletes from George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Furness, School of the Future, and Universal Audenried Charter High Schools participated in a Media and Signing day at Talen Energy Stadium in Philadelphia. Our athletes were honored to train, receive authentic uniforms, and sign their official contracts with Philadelphia Union’s Head Coach Jim Curtin and player Raymon Gaddis.

2018 MLS

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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 athletes and Unified partners. Philadelphia Unions Unified Team headed to Boston, Massachusetts on August 11th to take on the New England Revolution's Unified Team. New England Revolution won 2-0 over Philadelphia Union, but what a wonderful evening for both Special Olympics MA and PA. Congrats to all of the amazing athletes that participated in the Unified Match and thanks to all the fans that made it a special atmosphere for the athletes!

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The collaboration between Major League Soccer, ESPN and Special Olympics North America leverages the strength of MLS and its clubs to promote awareness, respect and inclusion of Special Olympics athletes throughout the soccer community, creating opportunities for new participants, coaches, and fans needed to grow the sport of soccer within Special Olympics North America programs.

PHILADELPHIA UNION'S UNIFIED SPECIAL OLYMPICS TEAM PLAYERS:

Check out the Unified Roster

  • Angel Rosa, Athlete, George Washington HS
  • Corey Kriebel,  Athlete, Abraham Lincoln HS
  • Elizabeth Vicaro, Partner, George Washington HS
  • Isaiah Jackson , Partner, George Washington HS
  • Jahleel Gant, Athlete, Audenried Charter HS
  • Khayri Ali, Partner, School of the Future HS
  • Leslie Kuwengwa, Partner, Abraham Lincoln HS
  • Sangita Tamang, Partner, Furness HS
  • Savante Thomas, Partner, School of the Future HS
  • Steven Ferlaino, Athlete, Furness HS
  • Tariq Fontroy, Athlete, School of the Future HS
  • Tyhir Scott, Athlete, School of the Future HS
  • Tyler Weidman, Partner, Audenried Charter HS
  • Zach Gender, Athlete, George Washington HS
  • Steve Buller, Coach, Audenried Charter HS
  • Kathy Paul, Coach, George Washington HS
  • Jess Tosto, Coach, School of the Future HS

MLS All Star 2018

MLS and ESPN also hosted the 5th annual Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Showcase as part of MLS All-Star in Atlanta on July 31st.  The Unified Sports All-Star soccer teams played an 11 v. 11 match, featuring Unified players representing all 23 MLS clubs. The East and Philadelphia Union was represented by students from Kensington Health Sciences Academy, 16-year-old Brandon Richards and his unified partner Josue Gonzalez. Together, both boys served as the MVPs for their squad - Josue was Most Valuable Partner, while Brandon was named Most Valuable Player! After a tight, end to end, weather-shortened game, the Unified Sports All-Star match ended in a 1-1tie.