CARSON, Calif. – Friday night is certain to be more special than usual when the LA Galaxy takes on D.C. United at The Home Depot Center.
The Galaxy will be hosting Military Appreciation Night, during which the club is donating 1,000 tickets to various regional branches of the armed forces. All military personnel will also receive a 50 percent discount when purchasing tickets to the game. MORE INFO
Prior to the start of the game, each branch of the armed forces – U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy – will be recognized. Thirty Air Force recruits will take the Oath of Enrollment on the main stadium field. The 1st Marine Division Band out of Camp Pendleton will perform at the main entrance starting at 7 p.m. and then play the national anthem prior to kickoff.
It is a promotion that particularly hits close to home for Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders, whose grandfather Maurice flew B-26 bombers during World War II. Saunders’ father, Chris, was a Marine helicopter pilot; his uncle, Rick, flew transports and his niece’s husband currently is in the Navy.
Saunders is helping to show his appreciation for the military by wearing a pair of camouflage gloves that also feature yellow “Support Our Troops” ribbons and American flags. Saunders said his glove company, Aviada, had them made for him in honor of Memorial Day.
“It was something I felt was important, like I needed to do,” he said.
Saunders said he felt especially moved by the team’s gesture for Friday.
“I think it’s very special,” he said. “In my family we’ve had a couple of generations of people serving in the military. It’s something that kind of goes unsaid because they’re protecting our freedom.”
Saunders said his grandfather still tells him war stories whenever he pays him a visit and said he “saw what role models are made of with my grandfather and my father.”
The fact he’ll be playing Friday in place of Donovan Ricketts, who’s off with the Jamaican national team in preparation for the upcoming Gold Cup, makes this weekend’s game even more special, Saunders admitted.
“Extra effort for this night and for our troops,” he said.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said Friday’s promotion is the least the team can do to honor the military.
“All I can say is all Americans are indebted to our servicemen,” Arena said. “As I’ve traveled the world the last 20 years, the more you’re glad to come back to our country, the best country in the world. Part of the reason for that is because of our military servicemen and women and the devotion our military has to protecting our freedom.
“So we’re thrilled to be able to make that kind of small gesture on Friday for our service people.”