TORONTO – LA Galaxy forward Edson Buddle and his counterpart in San Jose, Chris Wondolowski, battled hard for the MLS Golden Boot during the final stretch of the season.
On Thursday, they were working together for a change, joining six other MLS players and MLS Commissioner Don Garber in volunteering their time to help refurbish the Boys and Girls Club at St. Mary Catholic School on the west side of Toronto. The project is part of a national partnership between MLS W.O.R.K.S., the league’s community outreach arm, and The Home Depot.
Buddle and Wondolowski teamed up on a mural, one of the highlights of a makeover project that involved building new lockers, coat racks, a computer lab, benches and shelving. It was the first time the two players had formally met since the scoring race at the end of the regular season.
“He’s a really good guy and I’m glad to meet him,” Wondolowski said. “Now I really get to know him and I think we put it [the Golden Boot race] past each other.”
[inline_node:323644]RSL forward Alvaro Saborio, who attended the event despite walking on crutches following knee surgery, also focused on a corner of the mural while his teammates Jamison Olave and Javier Morales focused on building new coat racks. Sébastien Le Toux (Philadelphia Union), Pat Onstad (Houston Dynamo) and Toronto FC captain Dwayne De Rosario were also part of the MLS W.O.R.K.S. team that joined forces with 25 Home Depot volunteers and several Boys and Girls Club members.
De Rosario, who was one of the most sought-after during the autograph session, grew up with a Boys and Girls Club in Scarborough, where he grew up.
“It’s very important, especially nowadays with athletics cut in school programs,” De Rosario said. “It keeps them busy in idle time and they come in play sports and get their homework done in a controlled environment.”
The Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club location is an afterschool destination for upward of 100 kids on a daily basis with more than 70 making daily use of the computer lab. Beginning in January, the center will join forces with six other clubs in the area to set up an intramural soccer program.
“Our players truly understand their position as role models and trying to give back to the community. They’re great,” Garber said. “I’m proud of them. This is my favorite day of the year.”