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On Monday, July 31, 2017, athlete, Jeremiah Ellis, partner, Robert Esquilin, and coach Susie Reece from Universal Audenried Charter High School left for the fourth annual Unified Sports All-Star soccer match. This year, the festivities and game took place in Chicago, Illinois. Jeremiah and Robert represented Philadelphia Union during the week. Below is the roster of athletes and partners representing the Eastern Conference All-Stars:
|Athlete, Partner||Club Representing|
|Jeremiah Ellis, Robert Equilin||Philadelphai Union|
|Félix Berthiaume, Mathieu Hevey||Montreal Impact|
|Aaron Allen, Ashtin Burbank||New England Revolution|
|Brandon Lutz, Megan Young||Columbus Crew SC|
|Antonio Guzman, Lyndsay Price||Atlanta United|
|Mark Jerabek, Colin Iverson||Chicago Fire|
|DAniel Davila, Umar Muftau||New York City FC|
|Brian Curci, Jake Mulcahey||New York Red Bulls|
|Charles Barley, Rodrigo Canas-Pena||D.C. United|
|Sidge Taylor, Bailey Hubbard||Orlando City SC|
|Stephanie Panousis, Callum Denault||Toronto FC|
After some time on the field and meeting the team at Chicago Fire’s practice facility, the Unified All-Stars had dinner at Lou Malnati’s and had Chicago’s famous deep-dish pizza. The next day, the Unified All-Stars took to the streets to do some sightseeing in Chicago before their game.
Both teams came out strong with great movement up and down the field. Ultimately, it was Umar Muftau (East, representing New York City FC) who scored first and gave the Eastern Conference a halftime lead. After halftime, the Western Conference came back with back-to-back goals from Jesus Tepole and Luke McPhee, both representing Seattle Sounders. It looked grim for the east, but with two minutes to spare, Umar Muftau scored his second goal of the night. The Unified All-Star match ended in a 2-2 draw. Special Olympics had a live feed of the game on Facebook Live (video here).
On the last day, the Unified All-Stars gave back to the Chicago community during MLS Work’s Day of Service. Jeremiah and Robert kicked off their shoes and joined the group to help clean up a beach. After serving the community, the Unified All-Stars were able to relax and watch the MLS All Star vs. Real Madrid match. The last activity the Unified All-Stars participated in was a halftime ceremony during the match. After the game, it was time to get some rest and part ways the next day.
Thank you, Jeremiah, Robert, and Susie for representing Philadelphia Union and Special Olympics PA – Philadelphia so well!
MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative, is dedicated to addressing important social issues and serves as a platform for both League and club philanthropic programs. MLS WORKS seeks to establish Major League Soccer as a leader for improving the lives of people through sport. MLS WORKS has helped to improve the communities where we live and play our games by executing programs and campaigns that focus on cancer research and treatment, anti-discrimination, community service, health and wellness, environmental sustainability and accessibility to soccer. Follow us on Twitter & Instagram @MLSWORKS.
ESPN is proud of its relationship with the Special Olympics, which spans more than 30 years. It is the global media partner for the 2017 Special Olympics World Games, the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games and the 2019 Special Olympics World Games, and previously provided multi-platform coverage of Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles (LA2015) as well as coverage of the 2011 World Games in Athens on ESPN3. Since 2013, ESPN has been the Global Presenting Sponsor and Official Media Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports, which bring athletes with and without intellectual disabilities together as teammates.