2018 MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year, presented by AdvoCare

MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year - 2018 - generic

Award season is almost here.

Players, technical staffers (technical directors, GMs and coaches) and a select group of national and regional media will begin voting for each of the awards on Monday, Oct. 15.

Each voting group, representing one-third of the total vote, will select from the below list of 23 players named to the ballot for the 2018 MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year, presented by Advocare. All players on the Humanitarian of the Year ballot were nominated by their respective club, with a maximum of one nomination permitted per team.

Brad Guzan (Atlanta United)

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Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan devoted 30-plus days of coaching to Atlanta’s ’18 Special Olympic Unified Team. He spearheaded a partnership with Leesa, donating 227 mattresses to the Atlanta Mission. He led a Twitter campaign dedicating $20,000 to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta with 2K video retweets (goal exceeded with 5K retweets and 58K views) and he featured in a global campaign for It’s A Penalty combatting human trafficking.

Jonathan Campbell (Chicago Fire)

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Chicago Fire defender Jonathan Campbell has played an integral part in the Fire’s community efforts in 2018. Campbell volunteers his services to both the Anti-Cruelty Society and ALIVE Rescue Chicago, two organizations dedicated to protecting the lives and bettering the welfare of animals. Campbell has used his platform to host fundraisers and raise awareness for these organizations and their collective mission. Campbell also regularly volunteers with the Chicago Fire Foundation’s award-winning P.L.A.Y.S. Program, which was created to address the lack of after-school programming and the need to improve academic performance in Chicago Public Schools.

Zac MacMath (Colorado Rapids)

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Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Zac MacMath has been an active member of the Rapids’ Special Olympics Unified Program for the past three seasons and has formed unbreakable bonds with the athletes who look up to him for guidance and mentorship. MacMath has also participated in soccer clinics for local nonprofits and military, and has been instrumental in donating more than $60,000 to the American Heart Association with the Transamerica Saves Campaign.

Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)

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Wil Trapp, a Columbus native, is actively involved with his local community. Thus far in 2018, he has helped build a house for a family in need in association with Habitat for Humanity. Additionally, Trapp has also been involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, including hosting visitors at training and attending a special bowling event.

Steven Birnbaum (D.C. United)

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D.C. United center back Steven Birnbaum has shown continued commitment to his D.C. community since joining the team in 2014. He constantly volunteers to help out with United’s local charity affiliate DC SCORES, as well as with the Special Olympics and the Humane Rescue Alliance. He has also made visits to local hospitals to support and motivate pediatric patients.

Francis Atuahene (FC Dallas)

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After his moving speech during the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, FC Dallas forward Francis Atuahene has shown nothing but commitment to giving back to the community that now surrounds him here in Dallas. Atuahene is constantly donating his time to children in the DFW area. He has spent time with kids involved in the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) as well as local Special Olympic athletes. Atuahene also takes advantage of every opportunity to talk to kids about his story and the importance of hard work and education.

Joe Willis (Houston Dynamo)

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Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Joe Willis has been a huge part of Houston’s Special Olympics Unified team for three years, taking part in all team signing days and leading team tryouts. He knows every athlete’s name and makes a special point to speak to them before each of their games. The goalkeeper has also played a huge role in distributing equipment through the Every Save Makes A Difference Program.   

Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy)

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After Kyle Ornelas, a Power Soccer athlete, passed away earlier this year following a battle with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget personally set out to raise funds and awareness to fight the disease while supporting Power Soccer, a version of the sport designed specifically for power wheelchair users. Lletget led the charge to raise money by donating his cleats while encouraging each of his LA Galaxy teammates to do the same, raising thousands of dollars for CureDuchenne during the process.

The midfielder also spent time volunteering with Power Soccer and visiting with members from the local side during their 2018 MK Battery Conference Cup Series national tournament. Lletget personally invited and hosted Kyle Ornelas family to the LA Galaxy’s match against the Colorado Rapids, hosting the family at StubHub Center in honor of Kyle’s memory.

Tyler Miller (Los Angeles Football Club)

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Cancer hits close to home for LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller. Two members of the goalkeeper’s family were recently diagnosed with the disease. Miller’s personal mission has been raising awareness ever since. Miller hosted a beach soccer tournament and fundraiser, donating the proceeds to the Austen Everett Foundation. He recently teamed up with LAFC and Kaiser Permanente to spend an afternoon with pediatric oncology patients.

Matt Lampson (Minnesota United FC)

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Minnesota United FC goalkeeper Matt Lampson has made his mark on the Minnesota community through the work of his own foundation, the Lampstrong Foundation, which provides support to cancer patients and their families.

Jason Beaulieu (Montreal Impact)

Montreal Impact goalkeeper Jason Beaulieu stood out this year through his participation in community initiatives. He gave out presentations regarding educational perseverance and respect in numerous schools throughout Greater Montreal, in addition to taking part in many community initiatives alongside young children. He got involved with Special Olympics Quebec by participating in the friendly game at Stade Saputo and raised funds for the fight against childhood cancer by taking part in the Leucan Shaved Heads challenge.

Andrew Farrell (New England Revolution)

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New England Revolution right back Andrew Farrell continues to spend countless hours working with and coaching the club’s Special Olympics Massachusetts Unified team, building multiple lasting relationships with the athletes along the way. As part of the club’s Kick Childhood Cancer initiatives, Farrell has also developed a close bond with several children – including two girls he met in August 2017 – through local non-profit Binkeez for Comfort, participating in Celebrity Bartending, hospital visits, and more.

Sean Johnson (New York City FC)

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NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson was the ambassador from NYCFC for the MLS Community MVP Award which was won by NYCFC-nominated Adrian Conoboy for his nonprofit charity, “We Can Kick It.”

Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)

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New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles is in his third year serving as the spokesman for the Tackle Kids Cancer Campaign. Robles and his wife, Cara, hosted a second-annual fundraising dinner and silent auction, with 100 percent of money raised will go directly toward research to end childhood cancer. When his MLS ironman streak ended at 183 games, the streak was honored by Robles and the Red Bulls donating $18,300 to a family currently undergoing pediatric cancer treatments. The Red Bulls and Tackle Kids Cancer also teamed up to wear custom cleats, designed by players and pediatric cancer patients, for the September home match against Toronto FC.

Robles makes monthly visits to children's hospitals on his own time, and volunteers at soccer clinics for underprivileged children, leads the team in community relations efforts on behalf of the Red Bulls, and assists with clinics in his hometown.

Oriol Rosell (Orlando City SC)

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Orlando City SC midfielder Oriol Rosell has been a pillar for the Orlando community in his first season with the Lions after spending time in Portugal and several seasons with Sporting Kansas City. Rosell has set the standard for professional athletes with his demonstration of class and character both on and off the pitch for the club, particularly involving his work in the Orlando community.

Raymon Gaddis (Philadelphia Union)

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Philadelphia Union defender Raymon Gaddis is a staple in the Philadelphia community, frequently donating his time to support others. This year, he has supported pediatric cancer patient Liam Fanning with the Union’s Fearless Heroes program. Above and beyond, Gaddis hosts Liam at games, including on the field together for postgame fireworks. He sends Liam special video messages when he is too sick to attend.

Zarek Valentin (Portland Timbers)

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Portland Timbers fullback Zarek Valentin brought laughter to patients at local children’s hospitals and led in the welcoming of a young boy from Iraq who had received treatment in Oregon 10 years ago after losing his left leg. Valentin helped build new homes for families with Habitat for Humanity and participated in the annual Rose City Road Trip. He spearheaded the #RibbonZ campaign to support the New Avenues for Youth Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center and also joined in the birthday celebration for a young Thorns FC fan battling cancer.

Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake)

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Kyle Beckerman’s community involvement has been wide-ranging and extensive in 2018. The son of two teachers, education has been a bright spot for his engagement, he started Beckerman’s Book Club at Ensign Elementary School, assigning them a book to read over the Summer and leading a class discussion in the Fall. He also promoted health and fitness in the community and make soccer accessible by hosting the launch of futsal courts in Salt Lake City. His additional efforts included hosting Make-A-Wish meet-and-greets before games and another meet-and-greet for juvenile offenders, providing motivation and inspiration.

Matt Bersano (San Jose Earthquakes)

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San Jose Earthquakes goalkeeper Matt Bersano has been a consistent advocate for social causes, primarily on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. He has promoted causes including “the #5 jersey” that advocates for basic human rights and has recently been welcomed as an ambassador by AthleteAlly. He is also a big supporter of the Austen Everett Foundation, who the Quakes partner with on pediatric cancer initiatives.

Stefan Frei (Seattle Sounders FC)

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Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei serves as ambassador for RAVE Foundation, the official charitable arm of Sounders FC, and key program collaborator on the new Sounders FC / RAVE turf playfield at Yesler Terrace Park. Sounders FC and RAVE Foundation partnered with Seattle Housing Authority on the re-development of Yesler Terrace, a low-income housing development that sits at the center of the city. RAVE Foundation collaborated to build an “unrentable” small turf soccer field, free for use by the entire community. In addition to the field, RAVE funded the GOALS for Art program. Led by Frei, students worked with him to add their design ideas to the goals that were created and installed on their field at Yesler.

Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

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Sporting Kansas City right back Graham Zusi has participated in numerous charitable events and embraced a leading role for The Victory Project, Sporting KC’s philanthropic program that aims to help children with cancer and other illnesses. In addition to making monthly visits to Children’s Mercy Hospital to interact and play games with patients, Zusi has led the following initiatives designed to raise awareness and money for The Victory Project: Yoga on the Pitch at Children’s Mercy Park, Sporting KC Day at the Kansas City Zoo, the Sporting Invitational golf tournament and Celebrity Bartending. He also appeared in the Braden’s Hope Calendar for the fifth straight year.

Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)

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Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley purchased 50 season tickets for the Best Buddies organization, which builds friendships between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. He also hosted his annual pro player clinic where 100 kids participated. Bradley was part of the KickStart Program launch, developed for kids in priority neighborhoods in the Greater Toronto Area. The program positively engages over 350 kids aged 6-14 with introductory soccer skills in a safe environment.

Doneil Henry (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)

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Vancouver Whitecaps FC center back Doneil Henry has been an exceptional community ambassador for Whitecaps FC. The personable and consistently positive center back has made numerous charitable appearances this season including BC Children’s Hospital, Day of Giving, Pride Parade and Community Clinics. Henry goes above and beyond when engaging with club initiatives and fostering relationships in the community.