TUKWILA, Wash. -- Just moments after the end of this year’s iteration of his “Zakuani & Friends Charity Match” at Starfire Sports on Sunday, former Sounders star Steve Zakuani already found himself the recipient of some good news.
“I’ve already been told we’ve more than doubled what we [raised] last year,” Zakuani said. “So that’s double the kids, double the programs, it’s going to stretch that money a long way. I think I can hope a lot more kids this coming year. So I’m happy.
- GALLERY: Check out photos from the match
“We’ll put at least two more kids through university and at least 10 through a soccer scholarship.”
This year marked the second in a row that Zakuani has hosted the charity match, which raises funds for his Kingdom Hope foundation. The teams – divided into red and blue jerseys – featured a star-studded cast of characters, ranging from retired MLS and American soccer legend Landon Donovan, to Seattle Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka.
A healthy list of former Sounders also joined in, including Marcus Hahnemann, Eddie Johnson, Patrick Ianni, Roger Levesque and Nate Jaqua. Johnson and Donovan were the stars of the show, with each notching a hat trick on the evening, while Zakuani himself got in on the action with a first-half goal of his own, the first of the match.
Ultimately, Donovan and Zakuani’s blue jersey squad would prevail by a slim 7-6 margin.
“It was a lot of fun,” Donovan said afterwards. “A lot of people came out and paid their hard-earned money to help something very special. I think we enjoyed, the guys enjoyed it. It was good to get out here and play.
“Everybody you talk to [about Zakuani] tells you what a great guy he is. And so if he’s supporting something you know that it’s real and it’s meaningful.”
Oguchi Onyweu – a teammate of Donovan’s during his time as a US national team mainstay -- was another notable participant.
“I was honored that [Zakuani] reached out to me to be a part of this,” Onyweu said. “This is definitely for a great cause and you can see the passion that he has when he speaks about it. I was just privileged to be a part of it and be here and be amongst all these former players that I used to play against.”
Even coming off last year’s successful inaugural version of the event, Zakuani said the turnout this year was especially impressive from his perspective, given some morning rain showers that he thought might hurt the turnout.
“This community keeps amazing me day-by-day by how they come out,” Zakuani said. “They turned out, it was great, they were cheering, the music was going. Just a very cool event.
“I thought we’d get a lot. But when I looked up, every seat was almost filled. We had a VIP postgame meet-and-greet with 200 people. You can’t beat that. I’ve got to go back and think about how we’re going to top this next year.”