But it’s unlikely any of the Northmen or Trojans were going to get in trouble for it.
A year ago, the Oak Park team organized a benefit game in honor of forward Ray Saari, who was battling testicular cancer.
It was a humble beginning for the Northmen’s cancer benefit game, which was moved to Livestrong Sporting Park for its second year.
“Last year we raised $1,800 in a game with Staley,” Northmen coach Derek Noll said. “Ray sent that money off to Livestrong. This year, we concocted this idea, and I made a phone call to Sporting, who was very accommodating.”
That’s how, Saari, who is now a senior, and his Oak Park teammates wound up battling Park Hill last Friday night in a game that will be remembered for the setting and what it represented long after the final result of the Trojans’ 1-0 victory has been forgotten.
“Nobody will ever forget this game,” said Saari, who donned a special yellow uniform for the game along with his Northmen teammates. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not a lot of people can say they’ve played in a pro stadium.”
If Saari couldn’t be the one to score the game-winning goal, it’s fitting that Park Hill’s Keaton Anchors did the honors. His 12th-minute goal stood up for the Trojans, but he was also taking a stand for his mother, Robin.
“My mom had breast cancer,” Anchors said. “It makes you think about how lucky and thankful you are to still be around and have those you love around, too.”
Both Oak Park and Park Hill watched Sporting Kansas City strengthen its grip on first place in the MLS Eastern Conference standings with a 2-0 win against the Chicago Fire before taking the field for their own clash.
Beyond the charitable aspect, the game will go down as an unforgettable milestone for the players and coaches involved.
“Half these kids are season ticket holders already, and this is one of the greatest stadiums in the United States,” Park Hill coach and Sporting KC season ticket member Josh Marchbank said. “To come here and play a friendly game against one of our rivals, it’s a tremendous experience for all the kids.”
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to <a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.