MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer’s social responsibility platform, and ESPN announced the full rosters for the 2019 Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Match during ESPN’s broadcast of MLS’s regular season matchup between Atlanta Unified and DC United on Sunday, July 21. Jack Gourlay and Samantha Salonen from Special Olympics Florida representing Orlando City Soccer will travel to Orlando, Florida to participate in the All-Star week activities.
As part of the Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Experience, MLS WORKS and ESPN will host 44 Unified team members comprised of individuals with intellectual disabilities (Special Olympics athletes) and without intellectual disabilities (Unified partners). Teams will play an East vs West, 11 vs. 11 competitive match consisting of two 30-minute halves, outfitted in authentic uniforms provided by adidas.
Jack Gourlay and Samantha Salonen to compete in East vs. West All-Star match at ESPN Wide World of Sports as part of MLS All-Star week festivities.
The Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer match will take place on Wednesday, July 31 at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida at 10:00 a.m. ET the morning of the 2019 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target. MLS Greats Cobi Jones and Oguchi Onyewu will serve as celebrity coaches for the match.
“Special Olympics Florida is extremely grateful for Major League Soccer’s support of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and our Unified programs. The opportunity for children and adults with intellectual disabilities to participate in sports alongside their peers without disabilities is invaluable, but I believe it is equally beneficial for those without disabilities to get to know and befriend individuals who are often labeled as ‘different,’ said Special Olympics Florida President and CEO Sherry Wheelock.
The Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Match is part of the season-long Special Olympics Unified Soccer Exchange program that provides opportunities for Unified soccer teams to participate in a first-team MLS experience. Unified soccer teams travel to MLS markets to compete in home and away exhibition matches scheduled in conjunction with MLS first-team matches, and receive unique experiences throughout the season, such as signing days, jersey unveils, buddy programs with MLS first-team players, and gameday recognition. The Unified Soccer Exchange program not only provides Special Olympics athletes with top-level training and competitive experiences, but also excellent life experiences they might not otherwise engage in.
The match is free and open to the public, but fans interested in attending are encouraged to register for tickets online by visiting MLSsoccer.com/AllStar. Fans can also enjoy pre-match festivities starting at 9:30 a.m. ET.
TUNE IN: For those of you who can’t attend, ESPN will livestream the match on starting at 9:30 a.m. ET on ESPN3 (TV) and WatchESPN (Web).
Fans are also encouraged to visit the #PlayUnifiedMLS tent at MLS Soccer Celebration presented by Tide to take the Inclusion Pledge and “High Five for Inclusion” to help raise awareness for Special Olympics Unified Sports and to show their commitment of overcoming the fear of difference and replacing it with the power of inclusion. Fans are encouraged to take the Inclusion Pledge here or by texting ‘MLS19’ to 51-555.