The Seattle Sounders and the Make-A-Wish Foundation teamed up to make the MLS club's match against Tottenham on Saturday far more than your average summer friendly. Earlier in the week, Seattle signed Xander Bailey, an 18-year-old from West Virginia with cystic fibrosis. He joined the club's training session on Friday and then started the match, firing the first shot at Spurs keeper Brad Friedel before getting substituted to a huge ovation from the 55,000 in attendance at CenturyLink Field.
Xander was given a locker right next to U.S. captain Clint Dempsey's and the Seattle crowd gave him their full support, waving his No. 45 and holding up banners bearing his name and likeness. He even signed a few autographs
Making the day even better for Xander, who is an Arsenal fan, was the fact that he got to face his favorite Premier League club's biggest rival. The match ended in a 3-3 draw, so preventing new Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino from getting a win in his first game with the club made it all the sweeter.
Rivalries aside, this was a memorable day not just for Xander, but everyone involved. From the Bluefield Daily Telegraph:
“To give him this opportunity is just fantastic. I saw the look in his eyes and you could just tell he was overwhelmed and he was so appreciative,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “It makes for a day I know he will never forget. Our guys won’t forget it either because it impacts us.
“We see what it means to him and being able to help in that regard and be part of that sort of situation is unique and special for us as well.”
It was only a friendly, but this might end up being the most meaningful match of the season for both of the clubs involved. Hopefully this kind of thing becomes a staple of these summer tours.
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