Tony Cascio to participate in Soccer Night in Newton

Cascio to join other MLS, US stars at "Soccer Night in Newtown"

Colorado Rapids winger Tony Cascio will return to Connecticut on Monday to play soccer one more time. This time, for a different cause.

Cascio, who attended and played at the University of Connecticut before he was drafted by Colorado in the 2012 SuperDraft, will join over 30 MLS and U.S. soccer stars in participating in "Soccer Night in Newton," an event intended to provide the residents of Newton, Conn. a diverson from the tragic school shooting that affected the entire nation.

"Like everyone else I couldn't believe what happened in Newtown last month," Cascio told "When I found out that other MLS players were putting this together, I wanted to be involved. The Connecticut community was great to me during my four years in school there, so I'm looking forward to giving back to them. Hopefully we can provide the kids and families in Newtown a fun day to get their minds off that tragedy."

"As a father of six, my heart still hurts for all those families that lost little ones, as well as for the adults that lost their lives on that horrific day," said Rapids President Tim Hinchey. "I'm hopeful that Monday's event can be another step for the residents of Newtown to move forward, knowing they are in the hearts and minds of the U.S. soccer community."

The outreach was started by Houston Dynamo President Chris Canetti, a native of Guilford, Conn., who within days of the tragedy knew he wanted to do something for the Newtown community.

On the Monday after the shooting, Canetti got in touch with one of the only people he still knew connected to the Connecticut soccer scene: Eric Da Costa, head coach of the Quinnipiac University soccer men's soccer team. (Canetti is an alumnus of Quinnipiac.) Da Costa got the ball rolling, reaching out to youth soccer people in the area, including the Connecticut Football Club youth program, and suddenly things were in motion.

What emerged — and has quickly picked up momentum — is “Soccer Night in Newtown,” a special event taking place on January 7 and open only to Newtown residents and members of the Newtown Youth Soccer Club. Local families and children will be able to meet MLS and US national team stars, play in small-sided games, and spend an afternoon thinking about the beautiful game rather than the ugliness of recent events.

Through MLS W.O.R.K.S., more than 30 MLS players confirmed their involvement, including Cascio, Houston’s Brad Davis and Brian Ching, the LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan, the New England Revolution’s Matt Reis, and the San Jose Earthquakes’ Marcus Tracy, who grew up in Newtown and whose mother once taught at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

US national team stars, including Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas, Mia Hamm, and Connecticut native Kristine Lilly, also quickly pledged to take part.

They will all take part in what is shaping up to be a very special day for the Newtown community.

Participating players:

Chicago Fire
Chris Rolfe

Colorado Rapids
Tony Cascio

Columbus Crew
Ethan Finlay

D.C. United
Dwayne De Rosario

FC Dallas
Zach Loyd, Bobby Warshaw

Houston Dynamo
Corey Ashe, Brad Davis, Brian Ching, Ricardo Clark, Tally Hall

LA Galaxy
Landon Donovan, Sean Franklin, Rafael Garcia,

New England Revolution
Kevin Alston, Darrius Barnes, Hunter Freeman, Ryan Guy, Matt Reis, Clyde Simms, Chris Tierney, Bobby Shuttleworth

New York Red Bulls
Kenny Cooper, Heath Pearce, Ryan Meara

Philadelphia Union
Chris Albright, Ray Gaddis

Portland Timbers
Sal Zizzo

Real Salt Lake
Kwame Watson-Siriboe

San Jose Earthquakes
Marcus Tracy

Seattle Sounders
David Estrada, Josh Ford

Sporting Kansas City
Kevin Ellis

Vancouver Whitecaps
Brad Knighton , Omar Salgado

US Men’s Legends
Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas, Eric Wynalda, Mike Burns, Tony Meola

US Women’s Legends
Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Christie Rampone