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Kwame Watson-Siriboe has followed the tragic stories out of Newtown closer than some.

The Real Salt Lake defender played his college ball at the University of Connecticut, about 75 miles away from Newtown and Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six adults were gunned down earlier this month.

"It was definitely something that was very, very devastating for the world, but especially for the community in Connecticut," Watson-Siriboe said Monday.

Next week, Watson-Siriboe will return to the state — along with dozens of other MLS players and U.S. soccer icons — in hopes of helping a town and its children recover.

"Soccer Night in Newtown" will be held Jan. 7. Newtown children will meet and play games with MLS and U.S. national team stars.

"We want to extend our love," Watson-Siriboe said.

The event is the brainchild of Houston Dynamo President Chris Canetti, a Connecticut native.

"I think, probably like a lot of Americans who sat around that Friday when the tragedy occurred, I was pretty bummed out and sad and thought through the weekend what can we do to help," Canetti said.

Driving to work the following Monday, Canetti called up the soccer coach at his alma mater, Quinnipiac University.

The coach told him Newtown was a good soccer town, and they started planning.

After a Newtown soccer club donated time at a indoor facility, Canetti got five of his Dynamo players to commit to the event.

"Then somehow word got out on it," Canetti said.

Alexi Lalas called and asked if he could be involved. Then Mia Hamm, and Cobi Jones.

Now, more than 40 MLS and U.S. National teamers will be on hand.

"Nobody expects kids to have to be looking over their backs. You expect them to be enjoying life and loving school," Watson-Siriboe said. "We want to make sure we help them realize that they can still enjoy life and try to help put the devastation behind them."

— Aaron Falk

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