LOS ANGELES — Seriously, now there are shots from distance and then there are shots from distance.
Like, from four stories up.
That was the challenge Thursday afternoon in downtown LA for an assortment of MLS players, league legends and celebrity fans who took part in the MLS Cup Celebrity Kick Off at LA Live. Among the contestants were former Galaxy players Clint Mathis and Cobi Jones, the Philadelphia Union’s Sebastien Le Toux, Chivas USA’s Heath Pearce, Man v. Food’s Adam Richman, boxing great Oscar De La Hoya, ESPN's, Stan Verrett, and The Insider’s Kevin Frazier.
From a perch high atop the Staples Center, they all tried to score on a goal placed on the street below. Only three shooters found the target: Verrett, Pearce and Jones.
“I was incredible,” Jones boasted. “I was scoring goals left and right. They told me to hit the crossbar and I hit the crossbar — no problem.”
Pearce was a little less proud of his effort.
“I would say I didn’t do well, but I did score so I’ll take it,” he said. “Sometimes that’s all you need. A goal is a goal, right?”
Mathis, a guy who knows a thing or two about putting the ball in the back of the net, failed on this occasion. But the entire event transported him back nearly a decade.
“Kicking off the roof brings back memories of 2002 when we were on David Letterman when we came back from the World Cup,” said the one-time USMNT attacker. “We kicked balls from the roof of the Ed Sullivan Theatre across Broadway.”
This is soccer, right? And so, naturally, the day was not without controversy. Man vs. Food star Adam Richman, an avowed New York Red Bulls fan, appeared to score but his attempt was denied.
“My second-round kick was legitimate and even Sebastien Le Toux said it was legitimate, so it has to count,” Richman said. “I did another one where I did a dropkick and got only about a foot away from goal. If could take it again, I would score and get a contract today as the newest Red Bull.”
Well, as every Red Bulls fan knows: You win some, you lose some. For everyone, though, it was a challenge well taken up.
“It was fun to get up there with Cobi and the others and hit balls off the top of the Staples Center,” Mathis said. “But at the end of the day things like this bring great awareness to the city of how big this event is and that’s key.”