MLS WORKS announced during halftime of the 2019 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target the Grand Prize Winner of the 2019 MLS WORKS Community MVP, Steven Cruz.



2019 WINNER - Steven Cruz
Steven Cruz
Steven Cruz
Steven Cruz

Academia de Futbol Juvenil Amatense

Copy from last year to be updated with 2018 copy: MLS WORKS announced during halftime of the 2019 MLS All-Star Game presented by Wells Fargo on Wednesday the 2019 MLS WORKS Community MVP, Steven Cruz.

From a young age, Steven has been traveling to El Salvador where he would spend his summers in his mother’s hometown – a rural community called Los Amates. Despite not having much in common with the children in this community Steven saw that there was a common language they all spoke – it was soccer. Soccer brought him closer to the children in Los Amates, and Steven witnessed the disparities the children endured on a daily basis: limited water, lack of education, and severe poverty.

As Steven grew older and continued visiting his mother’s hometown, he saw the children he once played soccer with were now involved with the local gang. Unfortunately, gang recruitment and violence is very prevalent in communities of Central America.

Unwilling to allow this image to define the people of this community, Steven started Academia de Futbol Juvenil Amatense (AFJA), a LA based non-profit that recycles any lightly worn soccer equipment and builds sustainable soccer academies in Central America. I have seen firsthand how Steven and his organization have impacted a large group of the Central American community in Los Angeles.

Since starting AFJA, a total of three soccer academies have been established. Each student enrolled must abide to three requirements – good academic standing, attendance, and community service. The implementation of requirements has positively impacted the children in these communities. Within the last two years, AFJA has seen a large portion of students are moving on to higher education (where normally, many of the children would not go past fourth grade).


Bobby Samra
“I will be donating the money from the contest to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a cause that is personally very important to me and my family. I would like to thank everyone for voting and for all of the incredible support we’ve received these past two weeks”

Bobby Samra

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Bobby Samra was chosen as Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s Community MVP for his work as an educator and a soccer coach. He is a vice principal in Surrey, BC and has coached soccer for over 25 years. He first started coaching straight out of high school and fell in love with teaching and working with kids. Since then, he has coached soccer at every school he has been at and has even had former students return to help him. Most recently, Samra developed a soccer program with Central City Soccer Club and the Surrey School District for kids with mental health issues.




Bill Yoachim of Nanaimo, British Columbia was selected as Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s Community MVP for co-founding “Hope and Health”, a soccer-based organization that encourages and inspires kids to overcome adversity, in partnership with Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

Bill works with indigenous Canadian children known as First Nations. He saw how many in the community struggled, and he co-created “Hope and Health” to provide support and inspiration for these kids to live healthier, more active lives.

“A giant thank you to MLS, the Timbers and the supporters of Yamhill Carlton,” said Wright. “YCSC and our supporters, near and far, have no fear of hard work and are passionate about making a difference. Together they truly exemplify the word community and I am proud of what we have accomplished.”


Portland Timbers representative

Karen Wright was selected as the Portland Timbers Community MVP for founding the Yamhill Carlton Soccer Club (YCSC) in 2010, and growing the club from 14 local players to over 300 registered YCSC/OYSA club members, and 25 registered coaches. In 2014, over 4,000 hours were logged by more than 100 committed soccer volunteers of all ages for numerous charitable programs and events.

Stephen Schirra

Stephen Schirra

New England Revolution

At the age of 23, Stephen Schirra set out on a mission to use sport as a vehicle to create positive change and to make a difference in the world. In an effort to merge his passion for travel and the game of soccer, Stephen decided to bring a ball with him wherever he went. What followed were stunning shots of him freestyling in front of famous landmarks and beautiful locales. He started a blog called Around the Worlds, Around the World, and an Instagram account filled with gorgeous images from his travels. The name and his vision materialized into Around the Worlds, Around the World – a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching soccer to underprivileged children all over the world.

Keith Palau
"This whole experience will remain a highlight of my involvement as a Portland Timers fan, a Timbers Army member, and someone who cares about members of our community who need a little extra love and support."

Keith Palau

Portland Timbers

A long-time leader in the charitable actions of the Timbers Army’s 107ist organization, Palau was nominated as the Timbers Community MVP after recently creating Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns FC-themed visitation rooms in the Oregon Department of Human Services offices to provide a welcoming and warm environment for foster children and their families, as part of the Timbers sixth-annual Stand Together Week. In just 48 hours, Palau raised over $8,500 for the project and received a major donation from La-Z-Boy Furniture. Additionally, Palau organized a team of 93 volunteers, who dedicated nearly 800 hours of work toward the cleaning, priming, painting and staging of the visitation rooms at the Oregon Department of Human Services offices in Beaverton, Oregon.

Adrian Conoboy

Adrian Conoboy

MLS WORKS announced during halftime of the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Target the 2018 MLS WORKS Community MVP, Adrian Conoboy.

In 2016, Conoboy was diagnosed with brain cancer. During his time in the hospital, he was touched by the kids around him also battling this journey and decided to use this unfortunate turn of events to do good in his community.

Conoboy founded We Can Kick It, a nonprofit that provides free soccer programs to kids and young adults, ages 6-18, affected by cancer. Their soccer community is based in the New York metropolitan area and their mission is to expand throughout the United States, helping those affected by cancer everywhere.