Atlanta United - Gutman, Andrew (ATL): Andrew Gutman has been active in a variety of community relations programs this season – many of which are pillars for the club. Andrew has done his part to grow the game of soccer by inspiring the next generation of players to compete. Andrew surprised skills challenge competitors at the Children's Healthcare of Marietta Training Ground with special giveaways and has frequently come out to Unified trainings to help athletes with drills and encouragement. Most recently, Andrew spent time visiting pediatric cancer patients at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as part of the club’s Unite & Conquer Cancer Month and welcomed our 2022 Conquer Kids at the training ground for their special VIP visit.
Austin FC - Stuver, Brad (ATX): Brad Stuver has been a prime example of a community-engaged athlete throughout his time in Austin, and in 2022 became the first-ever MLS player to be named a nominee for the ESPN Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award at the ESPYs. Stuver is actively involved with Current Initiatives’ The Laundry Project, an organization which holds events to provide free laundry services and materials to low-income families. He has led eight such events in just over a year since arriving in Central Texas, including one to provide relief for families in Uvalde, and organized multiple supply drives to collect donations. Stuver is a foundation board of trustees' member for Equality Texas, the largest LGBTQIA+ advocacy nonprofit in Texas. He is also an ambassador for Athlete Ally, an organization that works to encourage athletes to be outspoken for LGBTQIA+ equality. He was named one of three finalists for Major League Soccer’s MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year award in 2021 and is a two-time winner of the 4ATX Foundation Legend of the Year Award for his outstanding commitment to helping build physically, socially, and emotionally healthy communities through soccer. Stuver was a featured speaker at this year’s South by Southwest Conference in Austin, in a session titled “Athlete Activism: Using Sport for Social Good.” He is a frequent volunteer at 4ATX Foundation's Verde Leaders program, which provides free after-school soccer and leadership training to underprivileged students in Central Texas."
CF Montréal - Kamara, Kei (MTL): 2022 proudly marks the 10-year anniversary of the founding of CF Montréal forward and MLS veteran Kei Kamara’s HeartShapedHands foundation. Named after his signature goal celebration, the foundation has strived since 2012 to provide academic scholarships, equipment, and other invaluable resources to students in his home country of Sierra Leone, West Africa. In 2022, the organization had its very first overseas activity in a Montreal-area suburb as the foundation hosted a youth soccer clinic and equipment fundraiser. Accompanied by a handful of special guests from CF Montréal’s senior team, including Victor Wanyama and Rudy Camacho, Kei’s team welcomed girls and boys ages U8 to U13 for two exclusive 90-minute soccer clinics. All funds collected went towards offsetting the rising shipping costs the foundation faces in its expedition of donated soccer equipment to children in Sierra Leone. Whether it has been through its unwavering commitment to its core mission of providing scholarships to students and to individual schools for teaching supplies or through its other endeavors like the raising of $20,000 in emergency funds for flood victims (2017) and annual equipment drives to create better access to youth sports, Kamara’s foundation has remained deeply engaged and at the forefront of social issues facing Sierra Leonian youth for over a decade now. Kamara has also sought to build bridges between his foundation and his newest fans in Montreal, having attended the pregame tailgate party of the 1642 MTL supporters’ group on August 20th in a bid to meet with fans and solicit further equipment donations for the organization. The foundation organized a similar event in his hometown of Kansas City last June.
Charlotte FC - Marks, George (CLT): Charlotte Football Club is committed to positively impacting our communities across the Carolinas through work that supports upward mobility, food security and our military. These initiatives allow the club to offer access to free soccer & literacy programs; high-quality fields & mentorship opportunities; leadership training for high school students; as well as organize food distribution events and advocate for members of the military and their families. Marks was devoted in helping the Charlotte community through the club's endeavors and was involved at every opportunity. The rookie also continuously recruited and encouraged his fellow teammates to join community initiatives.
Chicago Fire - Bornstein, Jonathan (CHI): Chicago Fire FC defender Jonathan Bornstein is a leader on and off the field, embracing the city of Chicago as a home away from home. Earlier this season, Bornstein participated in the Chicago Fire Foundation’s P.L.A.Y.S. Program, visiting an area school to help teach children emotional and social regulation using soccer as a guide. He also participated in the large-scale beautification project at the Gary Ortiz Campus in Chicago’s Little Village. As a notorious boundary for two gangs, this campus was transformed in to a safe space for the youth of the neighborhood.
Colorado Rapids - Rubio, Diego (COL): With COVID-19 restrictions allowing for in-person visits, Rubio spearheaded player community appearances for the club, including visits to schools and youth clinics, as well as Special Olympics Unified Team practices. As part of this, the Chilean forwarded donated hundreds of tickets to Rapids games to elementary schoolchildren in predominantly Hispanic and underserved neighborhoods.
Columbus Crew - Williams, Josh (CLB): Josh Williams served as a true representative of the Columbus Crew's efforts in the community. Over the last four years, Williams has attended and supported all five mini pitch installations, including the Club’s fifth one (within Columbus City Schools) in 2022. He has served as the lead for the “Stuff The Backpack” initiative, which serves seven districts throughout Central Ohio and hosted a volunteer event at Lower.com Field to stuff thousands of backpacks with essential school supplies. In support of the Club’s “Stay in the Game” initiative to combat chronic absenteeism, Williams has hosted post-match meet and greets with Columbus City Schools students following each home match. As a leader in the locker room, he has also served as a mentor for younger players to demonstrate the importance of giving back to the Columbus community.
D.C. United - Alfaro, Tony (DC): The 29-year-old Mexican center back joined D.C. United at the start of the 2021 MLS season and has made a significant impact both on the pitch and off it. Tony has been a staple in the community work the club has conducted this year. From being the first to volunteer for several United We Serve events, like preparing food box donation for families in need (alongside his D.C. United teammates, the club packed a total of 1,170 meals), to using his voice and ability to inspire the next generation during multiple youth soccer clinics hosted at Audi Field, Alfaro has been committed to improving the lives of those around him and uplifting our city and its residents."
FC Cincinnati - Gaddis, Ray (CIN): Ray Gaddis came out of retirement to join FC Cincinnati in 2022, and aside from his contributions on the pitch, has continued his humanitarian efforts off the pitch in the community. Ray has spearheaded a number of faith-based initiatives in Cincinnati, including coaching soccer camps at local churches. This thanksgiving, Ray has partnered with Kroger and purchased 100 turkeys to bless and give away to children who attend schools in the West End of Cincinnati, where TQL Stadium is located. Ray remains very active in his hometown community of Indianapolis as well, both in the church and in the schools he attended.
FC Dallas - Pomykal, Paxton (DAL): From helping TxDOT #EndTheStreak, reading to children in hospitals or walking a runway benefiting the SPCA, Paxton is always eager to help and serve the community. As an FC Dallas veteran, Paxton is always down to help with community events and recently brought smiles to children battling cancer by surprising them at a Wipe Out Kids Cancer event at the National Soccer Hall of Fame during the month of September and Kick Childhood Cancer.
Houston Dynamo - Clark, Steve (HOU): Dynamo goalkeeper Steve Clark has played a key role in the Every Save Makes a Difference program this season. The veteran goalkeeper makes a crucial impact on the field by saving shots during the nationally televised matches, but off the field Clark has been present at three equipment donation events as part of the program. To date, the program has donated $10,000 in equipment and other gear to local students in Houston.
Inter Miami CF - Mabika, Aimé (MIA): Aimé Mabika has been a fixture in the community, helping drive Inter Miami’s outreach efforts in 2022. Notably, the Zambian defender has participated in several Kick Childhood Cancer initiatives, including delivering gifts to, and spending time with, children at the Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute. On Kick Childhood Cancer Night at DRV PNK Stadium, Mabika also took time during pregame to celebrate and interact with other pediatric cancer patients. Additionally, he helped pack bags for Inter Miami’s annual Back-to-School Book Bag program, where the club donated over 250 bags packed with supplies to local children in need. Mabika also played a key role in the club’s Black History Month ideation group this year. Mabika has taken on other community-driven initiatives, including volunteering at the NFL YET, Lester H. White Boys & Girls Club, where he spends time with the program’s participants and assists during special sports days. The defender also recently appeared at the Miami Shores Soccer Club to participate in a Q&A alongside DeAndre Yedlin for kids and their parents.
LA Galaxy - Hernández, Javier “Chicharito” (LAG): Javier “Chicharito” Hernández has been a leader in the Los Angeles community throughout 2022 on and off the field. In May of this year, Chicharito spoke to LA Galaxy Academy players and members of the Cal State Dominguez Hills women’s soccer team in a conversation about the importance of an athlete’s mental health and how that translates into peak performance as part of Mental Health Awareness Month. In May, Chicharito traveled to his native town of Guadalajara, Mexico to pay a visit to Casa Herbalife Nutrition partner Los Pinos Children Center and donate a $10,000 check on behalf of the LA Galaxy Foundation for the children of the shelter, as Chicharito shared inspirational messages and played soccer with the children. As part of MLS WORKS’ Soccer for All Week in May, Hernández welcomed Ukrainian Refugee Matvei “Mathew” Mykhalevych as an LA Galaxy honorary team member, welcoming him in the locker room and on the training field. On July 22, Chicharito helped give away nearly 1,500 backpacks filled with school essentials such as pencils, crayons, rulers, notebooks, calculators, and pens to children at A Place Called Home during its annual Back to School event for South L.A. youth and their families. In honor of Kick Childhood Cancer Month, Hernández did a virtual robot visit for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, spending time with patients virtually and offering smiles to the children and families at the hospital. Additionally, Chicharito surprised and welcomed the 2022 LA Galaxy Special Olympics Unified Team in their locker room for a meet and greet and supported the team during their match against Colorado Rapids on Sept. 17.
Los Angeles FC - Hollingshead, Ryan (LAFC): A former MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year with FC Dallas in 2017, Ryan Hollingshead continues to be the embodiment of LAFC’s commitment to being A Force For Good both on the field and off. In his first season in Los Angeles, Hollingshead made the most community appearances of any LAFC player, donating his time and resources at appearances and events to benefit groups such as Kick Childhood Cancer, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Wednesday’s Child – a television segment that helps find permanent loving, adoptive families for children in foster care
Minnesota United - Hansen, Niko (MIN): Since arriving in Minnesota, Niko Hansen has been a strong advocate for the Twin Cities community. His love for the game of soccer and willingness to grow the game in our community, as well as his dedication to youth enrichment, and inclusivity and diversity go hand in hand. Most recently, he participated in the unveiling of MNUFC’s newest community mini-pitch located at the Hmong Community School of Excellence (CSE). The Twin Cities has one of the highest Hmong populations in the United States, with soccer being the most popular sport played. The Community School of Excellence focuses on developing global-minded leaders through high academic standards and real-life experiences. Additionally, he serviced at the Arlington Hills Community Center, taking part in allowing children within that neighborhood a safe pitch to play on with a newly built soccer field. His dedication to the greater community happens off the field as much as on it. He is a consistent advocate for mental health and participated in creating a PSA in partnership with NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) during Mental Health Awareness Month. NAMI, his chosen Man of the Match organization, is a non-profit organization that works with individuals with mental illness, their families, professionals and the community at large by providing education, support and advocacy. Notably, Niko is one of several MNUFC representatives for Black Players for Change and was a part of the committee that selected and recognized Minnesota Hometown Heroes – alongside Dayne St. Clair and Jacori Hayes – during the MLS All-Star Week. Niko’s positive impact has been felt by so many from all walks of life. He is a true example of using the position he has as a professional athlete to better those around him and beyond.
Nashville SC - Washington, Taylor (NSH): Taylor Washington continues to stand as a pillar for the Nashville community. The winger is heavily involved with the Special Olympics Tennessee organization, teaching its athletes how to play soccer. This season in Nashville SC’s Inaugural Unified Match at GEODIS Park, Washington stayed after the conclusion of the First Team match to watch and support the Unified athletes (https://www.nashvillesc.com/video/nashville-sc-inaugural-unified-match-at-geodis-park)). Washington has also been influential in the club’s Kick Childhood Cancer initiative since 2020, making several hospital visits and raising awareness within the community on childhood cancer. Most notably, as part of the KCC acts of kindness initiative this year, Washington surprised pediatric cancer patients and health care providers at the Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
New England Revolution - Knighton, Brad (NE): Revolution goalkeeper Brad Knighton, in his club-record 12th season with New England, receives his first Revolution Humanitarian of the Year Award for his steadfast support of countless charitable initiatives, most evident this season in his work with Special Olympics Massachusetts and throughout Fight Childhood Cancer Month in September. Knighton showed his support for the Revolution Unified Team by coaching the athletes at their tryout clinic in April before returning to welcome them to the club on their signing day in August. Knighton will also be on the sidelines to cheer on the Revolution Unified Team this Saturday, Oct. 1 when they take on Special Olympics Georgia at Gillette Stadium. Knighton, a father of three, is also passionate about supporting the club’s efforts around childhood cancer awareness. The 15th-year veteran visited Mass General Hospital for Children to meet with patients earlier this September, and again met with BCH families to watch the Revolution’s Sept. 17 match together in a suite at Gillette Stadium. Knighton closed out 2022’s Kick Childhood Cancer month on Sept. 28 by attending Box Car Movie Night with Binkeez for Comfort, a local non-profit he has often supported over the years including visits to their headquarters to make blankets, celebrity bartending fundraisers, and more. "
New York City FC - Johnson, Sean (NYC): New York City Football Club is built on the idea of not just playing quality soccer, but also as important is being a good neighbor and institution within NYC. As Captain of the team, Sean Johnson leads by example here and sets the bar among NYCFC players. In addition to Sean’s Community work around NYC, some of his most well-known work is with his involvement with Black Players for Change (BPC). For years, Sean has been a vocal advocate for fighting against racism and discrimination in all forms, and he continues to do so."
New York Red Bulls - Meara, Ryan (RBNY): Ryan has put a lot of time and hard work into the foundation that he is associated with called Answer the Call. Answer the Call provides support to families of New York City police and firefighters that have fallen in the line of duty. Meara has been a part of the foundation for many years and has dedicated many hours to helping and supporting the foundation and the families involved.
Orlando City - Akindele, Tesho (ORL): Tesho Akindele has become a key link between Orlando City SC and the community here in Central Florida, with a focus on issues that directly impact people in the community. Among his many causes this year, Tesho has joined with students from the Arbor Ridge School in advocacy of their support for green and environmental issues, advocated for the Club’s school supply drive and cleared various teachers’ Amazon wish lists to provide students and teachers with the resources they needed to start a successful school year, participated in the Urban Land Institute’s education program in advocacy of urban planning that focuses on increased walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, and attended the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando to cheer and support the athletes competing.
Philadelphia Union - Bedoya, Alejandro (PHI): Alejandro Bedoya has a long career of activism. Bedoya spoke out on field against gun violence in 2019 when he spoke directly to congress using a field mic following a goal. This year, following the events of Uvalde, he once again led a demonstration, leading the team out in "End Gun Violence" t-shirts for warmups in their match against New England. As a member of Everytown for Gun Safety, an American nonprofit organization which advocates for gun control and against gun violence, Bedoya was invited to the White House this year to celebrate the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Bedoya continues to advocate for gun safety by participating in PSA's and speaking engagements as well as a longer-form mental health awareness video.
Portland Timbers - Williamson, Eryk (POR): Voted by the club and team, Eryk Williamson recently won the club's 2022 Community MVP Award after being a constant presence in the community of Portland. Williamson has been a part of many soccer clinics and volunteering events.
Real Salt Lake - Kreilach, Damir (RSL): Prior to this year's kickoff, RSL Captain Damir Kreilach purchased 100 season tickets - a total nearly quadrupled by ownership and corporate support - that has allowed the Kreilach family to donate to several dozen Utah school, church and other various groups from underserved communities to RSL Matches this year ... Meanwhile, Damir has led the charge in encouraging his teammates and the front office to volunteer for numerous hours in service of the Utah Food Bank, Special Olympics Matches, Midvale Elementary and Granite Education Foundation during the 2022 MLS season.
San Jose Earthquakes - Salinas, Shea (SJ): Shea Salinas has been a pillar for the San Jose community and has shown dedication in growing youth soccer around the Bay Area. Salinas has specifically participated in the club’s Get Earthquakes Fit program and has visited and spoken to hundreds of students about the importance of school and fitness while also eating healthy and staying hydrated throughout the day. Shea has always been a reliable individual and truly loves giving back to the club that he’s been a part of for so long and shows his passion and spirit for the game on and off the pitch.
Seattle Sounders - Frei, Stefan (SEA): Stefan has used his incredible art skills to help design a wine label for Elsom Cellars to help fundraise for Washington Youth Soccer and a GlassyBaby to benefit childhood cancer research. He helped launch the third edition of “You Shall Not Pass” scarf to raise funds again childhood cancer research. An avid gamer, Stef donated electronics and video game equipment to Seattle Children’s, personal items to RAVE Foundation, Contrib, and STG DOORS. Stef was Captain of the TreeKeeper program that aims to preserve the Brazilian rainforest and move tree species off the endangered list.
Sporting Kansas City - Shelton, Khiry (SKC): Sporting KC forward Khiry Shelton has embraced an active and impactful role in the Kansas City community, earning recognition as the team's Humanitarian of the Year for a second time in 2022. Shelton continued his partnership with Shadow Buddies by supplying dolls for youths receiving treatment at Children’s Mercy Hospital, including the launch of the new ID Buddy and Diabetes Buddy. He volunteered at Victory Project events to support the club's philanthropic foundation, attending the Victory Gala and participating in an equipment donation drive for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City. Shelton currently mentors a local child as a Big at Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City and continues to serve as Sporting’s representative on Black Players for Change.
Toronto FC - MacNaughton, Lukas (TOR): Lukas MacNaughton has visited MLSE LaunchPad multiple times to spend time with the children and interact with them in different activities. MacNaughton has been learning more about their programming and how it works. He will be announced as the LaunchPad Ambassador later this year. Outside of MLSE, MacNaughton also volunteers with Taking Kids Out of Poverty (TKOP) Academy, a league created for kids from different areas of Toronto that ensures that no kid is excluded from participating in sports because of their socioeconomic background or athletic abilities.
Vancouver Whitecaps - Ricketts, Tosaint (VAN): Tosaint Ricketts exemplifies the values of Whitecaps FC and MLS WORKS both on and off the pitch. He understands that part of his role as a professional soccer player is to use his platform and voice to inspire the next generation and to unite people to achieve common goals. He embraces this role and believes that through his actions and by leading with his values and his heart, he can positively impact his community. Ricketts is a member of Black Players for Change and consistently uses his voice to denounce hate and marginalization. At every opportunity, he uses his elevated platform to advocate for concrete actions that advance anti-racism, equity, and social justice, and connects with our community to tell the stories of the Black community. As was evident by Ricketts’s engagement with the community in Salt Lake City where the Whitecaps were based for the first half of the 2021 season, his impact and desire to do good knows no boundaries. This year, Ricketts pulled together the supporter groups of Vancouver Whitecaps FC and FC Dallas to create joint tifos to commemorate Juneteenth and Pride. The tifos were created by supporter groups, staff, and players of both clubs and then unveiled during FC Dallas’s Juneteenth and Pride commemoration match in June. They were then flown to Vancouver and unveiled during Vancouver’s match on June 26. In the continued spirit of uniting our supporter groups and recognizing their importance to our club, Ricketts also united all the groups for a summer barbeque and used it as an opportunity to encourage donations of clothing and equipment for Atira Women’s Resource Society, a local charity committed to ending violence against women. Thanks to Ricketts, the WFC supporter groups, and staff, hundreds of items were donated to Atira. Ricketts recognizes the importance of connecting with the next generation of leaders in our community. He made a special visit to LA Matheson Secondary School, a school in Surrey, British Columbia with a diverse population of students, to talk about his journey as a soccer player and to share the values of hard work and self-belief. Ricketts also continues to engage with our local Indigenous communities through club outreach initiatives. In a true act of leading by example, Ricketts obtained his Bachelor's Degree in Sports Management from Southern New Hampshire University this past year. He is currently working towards obtaining his Master's degree. The knowledge obtained by Ricketts through his education and through his experiences as a player are what he brings to the table in his role as Manager, Community Impact as part of the WFC’s Community and Social Impact Department. His perspectives and ideas have enriched and elevated community initiatives. He doesn’t do it alone – he inspires his teammates to join him, and he inspires supporters to work alongside him and he works with partners to lift up the most vulnerable in our community. “When you have the platform, the resources and the outreach, you want to create true positive change,” said Ricketts. For all the contributions mentioned above, and for his passion for giving back, WFC’s Community and Social Impact staff select Tosaint Ricketts as the 2022 Humanitarian of the Year."