Stars from the U.S. soccer community will gather in Connecticut on Monday for Soccer Night in Newtown, an evening of entertainment designed to lift the spirits of those devastated by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month.
SI.com spoke with the organizer, Houston Dynamo president and Connecticut native Chris Canetti.
Secondly, I'm just like a lot of other Americans who sat around the weekend after the tragedy and just felt very, very sad and angry and depressed, all the different emotions that everybody felt over this senseless tragedy. A lot of people wanted to find a way to help. There's not a lot of ways to help these people, but thinking about how can we do something, literally on a whim driving into work on Monday morning [Dec. 17] I picked up the phone and called the coach of Quinnipiac University, Eric Da Costa, and I just said to him, "Tell me what kind of a soccer community Newtown is."
He said, "It's a big soccer town. They've got high school programs, facilities, soccer's a big part of the community." And I said, "Well, what do you say: as a college soccer coach in Connecticut who's tied to his community and me as someone who's the president of a professional team, why don't we do something?" We agreed on that phone call to do something.
The idea became, "Let's do a clinic -- I'll bring some Dynamo players up, and we'll try to find a place to host a clinic." And in general that's what we were going to do. I called [Brian] Ching and [Brad] Davis and [Ricardo] Clark and [Corey] Ashe and [Tally] Hall, and they all agreed to go, so the stage was basically set to do a small clinic with Dynamo players for Newtown residents. Then word kind of trickled out that this was happening, and it steamrolled from there.
We talked and decided to get more MLS players. Word was put out right before Christmas to all the teams that if anybody else wanted to come we'd be happy. And I've now lost track of how many players we've got -- somewhere in the neighborhood of 50. Every MLS team is represented with at least one player, then we've got US national team greats -- Alexi Lalas, Cobi Jones, Tony Meola, Lilly, Hamm and Rampone.
No longer is it a clinic, now we're calling it Soccer Night in Newtown: 4-8 p.m., two sessions, some interactive games and activities, photos, things of that nature.