MLS prepares military tribute

Fans who make it to RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. for Saturday's Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game will be wowed by the displays put on by the U.S. military.

With flags held high in what will hopefully be the light breeze of a warm summer day, Major League Soccer is honoring the Armed Forces of America in a gesture of thanks for their efforts put forth in the past 18 months.

"We are honored for the opportunity to recognize and thank the military for its ongoing efforts," said Evan Dabby, director of operations for Major League Soccer. "It's important for us as a league, for our fan and for the rest of the country."

With a full display of pregame ceremonies, the U.S. Army's Operation Tribute to Freedom (OTF) will perform a variety of acts, including a performance by the U.S. Army Drill Team and solos of the National Anthem and "God Bless America" before the main event and the celebration game respectively. The final display will be the deliverance of the game ball to the field via helicopter for the 2 p.m. ET kickoff, to be broadcast live on ABC Sports.

While this isn't the first time Major League Soccer has incorporated the military into one of its games, it's never been done at such a prestigious level before, said Dabby.

When D.C. United designated its game against the Columbus Crew as a military appreciation event, with support from Operation Tribute to Freedom, the response from fans, players and team officials was overwhelmingly positive, he said.

Mike Levitt is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.