Dynamo players participate in Soccer Night in Newtown

Ricardo Clark remembers exactly where he was when he first heard the news about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He had just finished a player appearance and was on his way to Eddie Robinson’s house to pick up his two kids.

“I got to the house and Eddie told me what happened,” the Dynamo midfielder said. “Then I started watching the news and hearing more details about the tragedy.

“I just kept asking myself ‘Why?’ and ‘How could something like this happen?’”

As a father of two young kids, Clark could empathize with the families in Newtown. So when Dynamo president Chris Canetti asked for volunteers to participate in Soccer Night in Newtown, Clark was quick to raise his hand.

“I just felt like I needed to be here,” Clark said. “It’s a terrible situation. You can’t put into words your feelings when a situation like this arises. I knew I had to come and do whatever I could to help.”

So in the middle of the off-season, with only two weeks to go until preseason camp kicks off, Clark and 40 other current and former professional soccer players made the trek to Newtown, looking to bring smiles to the faces of a community that has not had much reason to smile recently. And on a cold Monday afternoon in Newtown, Conn., they did just that.

More than 1,200 Newtown residents packed the Newtown Youth Academy on Monday afternoon, and for four hours, they were able to interact with athletes who they normally only see on TV. Although autograph lines for former U.S. women's national team star Mia Hamm and current LA Galaxy star Landon Donovan were the longest, many of the kids in attendance were just happy to talk to and kick a ball with the soccer stars that flew from all corners of the country to see them.

“It was great to see everyone come together to help this community,” Clark said. “It was very uplifting. Everyone thanked us for coming, but this was all for them. Everyone seemed to enjoy the event and I’m glad we could provide the residents something positive to hold on to.”