2019 Special Olympics Unified Team 2019-06-12
Jane Gershovich

2019 Sounders FC Special Olympics Unified Soccer Team

In 2010, Seattle Sounders FC and Portland Timbers FC hosted their first Unified Exchange Matches, with each team traveling to the other to compete and share the values of inclusion, acceptance and teamwork. Ten years later, the tradition of Unified Exchange Matches between Sounders FC and Portland Timbers continues each season. Each MLS team in the United States has followed suit and now participates in Special Olympics Unified Exchange Matches. On May 28, 2019, Sounders FC signed 15 unified athletes and partners as our 2019 Special Olympics Unified team. This signing day prepares the team for their Exchange Matches versus the Portland Timbers Unified team on July 21 and Aug. 23.

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2019 Sounders FC Unified Roster

Name: Ian Hartford — Unified Partner

Position: Goalkeeper

Jersey number: 1

Age: 20

Hometown: Seattle

Playing Unified Soccer For: 9 months 

Favorite Sounders FC Player: Stefan Frei

How do you encourage your teammates? I encourage my teammates by giving them positivity and support when they do things right; but also support them when they may make a mistake. We've all made mistakes during games, but the difference is the response both from the individual and from one's teammates. Additionally, I'd say I encourage my teammates by providing continual instruction while playing so that they can become better players.

Name: Evan Kaptinski — Unified Athlete

Position: Right wing/Midfield

Jersey number: 2

Age: 20

Hometown: Bellingham, WA

Playing Unified Soccer For: 7+ years 

Favorite Sounders FC Player: Cristian Roldan

How do you encourage your teammates? I tell them to keep working hard and trying their best, never give up.

Name: Joel Granados — Unified Athlete

Position: Midfield

Jersey number: 4

Age: 17

Hometown: Grandview, WA

Playing Unified Soccer For: 1 year 

Favorite Sounders FC Player: Will Bruin

How do you encourage your teammates? Hyping them up.

Name: Brayden Kelly — Unified Athlete

Position: Forward

Jersey number: 6

Age: 18

Hometown: Seattle

Playing Unified Soccer For: 3 years 

Favorite Sounders FC Player: Handwalla Bwana

How do you encourage your teammates? “Support,” keep improving, work hard to be better.

Name: Ronnie Papka — Unified Athlete

Position: Forward

Jersey number: 7

Age: 20

Hometown: Seattle

Playing Unified Soccer For: 8 years 

Favorite Sounders FC Player: Cristian Roldan

How do you encourage your teammates? Keep it positive - tell them what a great job they are doing.

Name: Dayton Larson — Unified Athlete

Position: Center Forward

Jersey number: 8

Age: 18

Hometown: Spokane Valley, WA

Playing Unified Soccer For: 3 years 

Favorite Sounders FC Player: Raúl Ruidíaz

How do you encourage your teammates? By keeping their heads up and encouraging.

Name: Nathaniel Nelson — Unified Athlete

Position: Forward

Jersey number: 9

Age: 19

Hometown: Tacoma, WA

Playing Unified Soccer For: 11 years 

Favorite Sounders FC Player: Jordan Morris

How do you encourage your teammates? By trying to keep the people's hope up and trying to encourage when you win or lose.

Name: Rofaiel Dawood — Unified Partner

Position: Defensive Midfielder

Jersey number: 10

Age: 19

Home Country: Egypt

Playing Unified Soccer For: 1 year 

Favorite Sounders FC Player: Nicolás Lodeiro

How do you encourage your teammates? Whenever I see a teammate is down or not performing well, or going hard on themselves whenever he or she messes up, I always make sure I support them and be as positive as I can usually by telling them not to worry too much about what happened and focus more on the upcoming opportunities and remind them what they are capable of sometimes by mentioning something they did in the past that was really amazing.

Name: Zach Prenovost — Unified Partner

Position: Center Back

Jersey number: 11

Age: 18

Hometown: Lake Tapps, WA

Playing Unified Soccer For: 1 year

Favorite Sounders FC Player: Nicolás Lodeiro

How do you encourage your teammates? Positive and constant communication – tell them they’re great! We can’t win as a team if we are all individually playing a different game. Positive communication creates synergy.

Name: Brian Primm — Unified Partner

Position: Midfield

Jersey number: 12

Age: 21

Hometown: Seattle

Playing Unified Soccer For: 5 years

Favorite Sounders FC Player: Jordan Morris

How do you encourage your teammates? Positivity and keeping it 100.

Name: Michael Zunick — Unified Athlete

Position: Right Back

Jersey number: 15

Age: 20

Hometown: Seattle

Playing Unified Soccer For: 6 years

Favorite Sounders FC Player: Raúl Ruidíaz

How do you encourage your teammates? I cheer on my teammates while they play in the games and give suggestions to each player on how they can improve in playing for a very important soccer team.

Name: Sam Stickney — Unified Athlete

Position: Midfield

Jersey number: 18

Age: 22

Hometown: Poulsbo, WA

Playing Unified Soccer For: 11 months

Favorite Sounders FC Player: Cristian Roldan

How do you encourage your teammates? Be the best example that I can, support each other and celebrate everyone's victories.

Name: Said Dominguez — Unified Partner

Position: Defense and Midfield

Jersey number: 20

Age: 20

Hometown: Las Vegas

Playing Unified Soccer For: 1 year

Favorite Sounders FC Players: Brad Smith and Raúl Ruidíaz

How do you encourage your teammates? I always try to give my full effort because I know if my teammates see that, they will strive to do the same. And even when I am not, I can turn around and see the players around me doing so, and I am immediately motivated. I also try to bring their spirits up by saying, “It’s OK,” or, “Next time you got it,” because I believe saying stuff like that will help them do better and their confidence levels will rise.

Name: Julio Abad — Unified Partner

Position: Defender

Jersey number: 22

Age: 21

Hometown: Lynnwood, WA

Playing Unified Soccer For: 9 months

Favorite Sounders FC Player: Román Torres

How do you encourage your teammates? I encourage my teammates by showing them that I am fully confident in their abilities and that I always have their back. I also give a hype pregame speech to get everyone ready to go out and give it their all.

Name: Jesus Perez-Tepole — Unified Athlete

Position: Defense and Midfield

Jersey number: 30

Age: 20

Hometown: Seattle

Playing Unified Soccer For: 4 years

Favorite Sounders FC Player: Clint Dempsey

How do you encourage your teammates? I encourage them by telling them, “Hey, we have to work as a team, pass the ball, do well,” and I always tell them to never give up, always keep on going even though we are losing, always keep going.