Shucking aside the rainy forecast, Showdown proved sunny again for us, as we brought our 10th match to the Lower East Side on June 21, 2017!Host and ESPN analyst Amin Elhassan called the match with live, on-field commentating, while David Gass provided color commentary for the livestream on Whistle Sports Facebook Live.
Major League Soccer’s New York City FC and New York Red Bulls stars David Villa and Sacha Kljestan faced off as opposing coaches ahead of their MLS teams’ Hudson River Derby, assisted by honorary NBA coaches Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76’ers) and JJ Redick. The pros coached some of Showdown’s most talented rosters in its decade-long lineage:
TEAM RED: Claudio Reyna (US Mens National Team, Sporting Director – NYCFC), Patrick Vieira (French National Team, Head Coach – NYCFC), Jeff Matteo (Assistant Coach, St. John’s Basketball and retired US Soccer player), Ricardo Villar (ret. FC Dallas), Jeremy Lin (Brooklyn Nets), Sasha Vujacic (NY Knicks), Salomon Kalou (Hertha BSC), Josh Richardson (Miami Heat), Marc Stein (ESPN), Dwayne De Rosario (Canadian Mens National Team and Toronto FC), Brooke DeRosa (Adelphi University Women’s Head Coach), Mike Quarino (NYCFC). Coach: Sacha Kljestan (NY Red Bulls).
TEAM BLACK: Steve Nash (two-time NBA MVP), Simone Sandri (Showdown Co-Founder), Kyle Martino (retired MLS and US Soccer), Massimo Gobbi (A.C. Parma), Francesco Valiani (retired Italian soccer star). Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Brooklyn Nets), Kenny Atkinson (Head Coach, Brooklyn Nets), Derek Kierans, Darren Randolph (West Ham United, Ireland National Team), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76’ers), Christian Fuchs (Leicester City), and JJ Redick (Los Angeles Clippers). Coach: David Villa (NYCFC).
The talent on the sidelines rivaled that on the pitch, with international soccer standouts including Divok Origi (Liverpool and Belgium), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich and France), Marcus Olsson (Derby County and Sweden), Martin Olsson (Swansea City and Sweden), NYCFC players Rodney Wallace and Jack Harrison, and NYRB player Aaron Long cheering on the competitors. De Rosario led the field with two goals, with Vieira, Matteo, Stein, DeRosa, Nash, Gobbi, Fuchs, Kierans, and Valiani each chipping in one apiece.
At halftime, DJ Sky Gellatly kept the crowd entertained while Nash and Embiid competed in the TAG Heuer #Don’tCrackUnderPressureChallenge and tested their soccer skills by attempting to shoot a soccer ball to hit targets in the shape of the TAG Heuer shield in all four corners of the goal. TAG Heuer pledged to donate $1,250 for every target that the players hit: Embiid impressed everyone by crushing the Challenge in under three minutes, putting the heat on Nash to complete it in less (which he did). The Challenge succeeded in raising the maximum prize of $10,000 for the Steve Nash Foundation, which seeks to increase access to critical needs resources, and provide a foundation for health and strength in communities around the world.
The official timekeeper of Showdown for the past several years, TAG Heuer also presented Embiid with the Spirit of Showdown Award, the first NBA player in Showdown’s history to receive it. Past recipients include Thierry Henry, Massimo Ambrosini, Robbie Rogers, Giuseppe Rossi, Alessandro Del Piero, and Landon Donovan. Joel first came to the NBA as a participant in Basketball Without Borders, the NBA’s Global basketball development program. Since 2001, Basketball Without Borders has hosted young athletes on 4 continents annually. It was there that Joel met NBA legend Luc Mbah a Moute, who was himself a participant in Basketball Without Borders’ first ever Africa camp in 2003. Inspired by the experience and working with the NBA, Luc hosted a selection camp in Cameroon, and noticed a young Joel Embiid, who Luc nominated for invitation to Basketball Without Borders Africa, giving Joel the opportunity to come to the U.S., on to Kansas, and, now, to the NBA. A great story, a great guy . . . .
”Our tenth Showdown – amazing,” said Nash. “Every year, these players come out on their own time at their own expense to support the work we’re doing for kids, and we couldn’t be more proud to have them. To get to reach a global audience with Whistle Sports and introduce the game I love with these athletes, is just incredible.”
This year’s Showdown benefits the Steve Nash Foundation’s newest program, The Starting Five, a collaboration with NBA Player Development and the Thirty Million Words out of the University of Chicago Medicine to get players educated on early childhood development so that they can leverage that training and influence how dads worldwide foster brain development in their kids. Learn more at stevenash.org.
Prior to the match, the David Villa DV7 Soccer Academy delivered a youth soccer clinic attended by DV7 athletes and youth from Street Soccer USA, with a post-practice meal provided by Chipotle (on Friday, June 23rd, Chipotle continued its assist, donating 50% of proceeds to the Steve Nash Foundation for any food, beverage, catering order in New York City mentioning the Steve Nash Foundation).
At the same time as the Clinic, Showdown’s FanFest opened to Showdown guests and downtown visitors, with exciting innovative and interactive fan opportunities presented by sponsors throughout the evening. Both Nash and Hollis-Jefferson made appearances at FanFest, greeting fans young and old.
After the match, soccer legend Patrick Vieira was unanimously awarded the TAG Heuer Don’t Crack Under Pressure Most Valuable Player Award, joining a pretty impressive line of Showdown MVP Award winners: Giuseppe Rossi (2011), Salomon Kalou (2012), Carlo Cudicini (2013), Dirk Nowitzki (2014), John Nash (2015), and Asmir Begovic (2016).
In its tenth year, Showdown has solidified itself as a New York City summer staple. The match highlighted fancy footwork and great assists made both on and off the pitch, with all players suited up in Nike gear and shoes, and jerseys designed in collaboration with Uni-Sport LA and Media One. The official Showdown t-shirt, along with limited jerseys, are on sale now in the Steve Nash Foundation’s Make An Assist store. This year’s Showdown was sponsored by Viktre, Nike, TAG Heuer, Uni-Sport, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, Brooklyn Nets, NBA Cares, Guinness Beer, and Major League Soccer, with support from tabl’eau Filtered Water, Cartel Coffee Lab, Lyft, BODYARMOR, and Phebe’s Tavern & Grill.
Following the game, players joined with one another for a team dinner hosted by the Penny Farthing, followed by an intimate After Hours party at the Gem Saloon, hosted by Guinness and Guinness USA.
Follow on Twitter & Instagram @SteveNashFdn with #ShowdownNY, or visit SteveNash.org/Showdown for photos, recaps, and more information. Hope to see you next year!