Audi Celebrating Impact

LAFC midfielder Ilie Sánchez drives community forward

Ilie Sanchez - LAFC

Giving back to the community off the field has always been of paramount importance to LAFC midfielder Ilie Sánchez.

During his days with Sporting Kansas City, Sánchez received the club's Neal and Jeanne Patterson Humanitarian of the Year award in both 2019 and 2021 for his work as an advocate and supporter of the Special Olympics’ Unified Teams.

It's work he's continued following his move to LAFC, where he's been heavily involved with the club's Special Olympics Unified Team to advocate for universal inclusion across all sports.

"I’ve seen firsthand what an amazing organization the Special Olympics is," Sánchez explained in a recent piece in The Players' Tribune. "These programs give young athletes amazing experiences they would not otherwise have access to and help them develop as young men and women into the best versions of themselves through sport. Being part of the team and playing soccer is all about facing challenges, self-reflection, learning and improving, right?"

As part of his role with the program, Sánchez attends the team’s signing day, special events and team trainings, acting as a coach and mentor to the team's players.

To support the cause, Audi will be making a $40,000 contribution through the Audi Goals Drive Progress fund to support the impactful work of Special Olympics Southern California and their unified soccer teams.

"I'm still learning about the ways in which I personally can, as we say in Spanish, echar una mano (give a hand) to my new teammates and to the wider Special Olympics program," Sánchez wrote. "But as soon as I learned that LAFC was putting a team together for the new season, I knew I wanted to be involved as much as I could.

"This cause deserves attention, time, energy and also dollars. That’s why I’m so grateful to receive the support from Audi and its Goals Drive Progress fund. There is a lot more still to do, but the timing is right for us at LAFC to grow as an organization, adding to our structure with projects like the Special Olympics Unified Team."

Audi’s immense commitment to community projects will continue to be highlighted as part of the end-of-year player recognitions through the return of the Audi Goals Drive Progress Impact Award. A selection committee – comprised of current players, technical staff, front office staff and media members – will consider current MLS players who are dedicated to enriching lives and improving communities across the league. A $150,000 contribution will be made to the player’s charity of choice and presented to the winner during MLS Cup presented by Audi.