Third-grader Cory Walters admitted to being nervous as he became the first participant to face the MLS All-Star Shooting Challenge on Friday afternoon at The Wharf in D.C. The Amidon-Bowen Elementary School student took a deep breath before launching his first shot.
His attempt smacked the target on the lower right corner, earning a large cheer from his teammates. He scored on his next two shots, finishing with 15 points.
“I was a little scared at first,” he said. “But once I got a five, I got a little more confident.”
“I knew he would step up to the challenge, just like he does every day in school and on the field,” Walters’ coach Brian Cischke said, calling his attempts “amazing.”
Walters was one of the first soccer players to try the shooting challenge as part of the league’s All-Star Summer Roadshow, a mobile fan attraction that will travel all over the D.C. region, kicking off MLS’ festivities leading up to its summer showcase at Audi Field in mid-July.
The attraction — centered around a blue and white travel bus — plans to make five stops in D.C. and Virginia within the next two months before its final stop at the Soccer Celebration fan zone back at the Wharf on July 15 and 16. League officials tell WTOP that more Roadshow stops will be added in the future.
Fans can participate in games, giveaways and contests for prizes at the roadshow events. One of those prizes includes a chance to win two tickets to this year’s MLS Cup final.
The five stops include the following:
- The Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival in Centerville, Virginia, on June 3
- Herndon Festival in Herndon, Virginia, on June 4
- D.C.’s Audi Field on June 17 and July 8
- Taste of D.C. in Northeast on July 1
The Roadshow’s main attraction is the shooting challenge, which mimics one of the featured competitions MLS All-Star and Arsenal players will attempt during the All-Star Skills Challenge on Tuesday, July 18, the day before the exhibition.
Fans attempt to hit the targets with different points to obtain a high score. The top scorer during the Roadshow will receive two tickets to the skills challenge event, where they will have the chance to win $25,000.
During Friday’s introduction event, D.C. United legends Jaime Moreno and Marco Etcheverry joined former New York Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips to take part in the challenge.
“It’s great to be invited and know that they still count on us,” Moreno said on participating in the kickoff event. “We are always going to have in our hearts what we did for [the league], and it is just amazing to be here.”
Advice on obtaining a high score? Etcheverry, who was inducted in the National Soccer Hall of Fame last year, said in Spanish you must have some luck but “you have to have good touch as well.”
“Practice,” the Bolivian midfielder said. “The only thing you need in soccer is practice, and you will get better every day.”
Moreno, who once held the MLS scoring record and finished the event with 25 points, kept it simple.
“Have fun,” he said.
The MLS All-Star game, which will pit some of the league’s best talents against English Premier League side Arsenal, will take place on July 19. Tickets for the summer showcase sold out within five hours after being made available to the general public in March.
Those that didn’t snag tickets to this year’s match can still attend the All-Star skills competition, with tickets starting at $15.
Fans can also vote online for the MLS All-Stars they want to see compete until June 14. Twenty-six players will be selected, with 12 players determined by the combined votes of fans, media and players.
D.C. United head coach Wayne Rooney, who will be the All-Star team’s manager, will also select 12 players and two others will be selected by MLS commissioner Don Garber.
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