The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant greets John Carlson before the match. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
As a member of the Washington Capitals, John Carlson is no stranger to lighthearted games of soccer, often playing along with his teammates to warmup before taking the ice.
But on Sunday, he joined in a pick-up match with meaning, participating in the Mia Hamm Foundation‘s annual Celebrity Soccer Challenge, held this year at Kastles Stadium in Southwest D.C.
The game, put on by Hamm and her husband, former MLB star Nomar Garciaparra, encourages people to join the bone marrow donor registry while raising money for Children’s National Medical Center. It was started in honor of Hamm’s late brother, Garrett, who passed away from aplastic anemia, a bone marrow condition, in 1997.
“Any type of foundation and anything like this that can help out, they all mean so much to me,” Carlson said after the match. “Obviously Mia has a closer attraction to this cause. She does a great job and runs a great ship as we saw today — it’s a great event.”
In addition to the Caps’ 21 year-old blue-liner, athletes from across the spectrum took part, including Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, the Celtics’ Jeff Green, former D.C. United defender Eddie Pope, and U.S. Women’s National Team members Alex Morgan, Ali Krieger, Heather O’Reilly, and Tobin Heath. The game also featured some local media flair, as ESPN’s Tony Reali, The Washington Post’s Mike Wise, and CSN’s Ivan Carter switched from the press box to the pitch for a day.
Carlson’s team, FC Mia — representing spanish club FC Barcelona — won the game, defeating Nomar United — named in honor of England’s Manchester United — in sudden death overtime, 13-12.
“It was awesome, really a lot of fun,” said Carlson. “It got kind of competitive, it looks like the fans are having a lot of fun, the halftime ceremony [with bone morrow donors reuniting with their recipients] had me speechless, so just all those things together, it was an awesome event and I’m really glad I was a part of it.”
Below, my photos from the day.
(All photos by Chris Gordon)
DeAngelo Hall looks on before the game.
WJLA TV’s Pam Brown.
John Carlson warms-up.
Alex Morgan controls the ball.
Alex Morgan. You’re welcome, guys.
Nomar kicks off the match.
Kobe poses for a picture.
Ali Krieger of the Women’s National Team waves to the crowd.
Kobe and Tony Reali talk before the game.
Bryant acknowledges the crowd after being introduced.
Kobe battles Eddie Pope for the ball.
Hamm and Bryant.
FC Mia celebrates a goal.
Alex Morgan kicks a ball into the stands.
Carlson with the ball.
Ivan Carter: animated. John Carlson: carefree.
Kobe scores an own goal. Carter, already having some, um, trouble is not pleased.
Hamm addresses the crowd.
Bone marrow donors reunited with their recipients.
Kobe shares a laugh with Carlson.
That would be Mike Wise on the ground.
Nomar plays defense on his wife Mia.
Wise and Kobe lunge for the ball.
Hall attempts to make a save.
Jeff Green watches the action.
Former Redskins star Charles Mann was in net for Nomar United.
Morgan takes a shot on net.
Morgan scores a late goal, Reali makes a weird face.
FC Mia wins it in overtime.
Kobe and Mann hug after the match.