Trio of MLS players in running for Humanitarian of Year Award

By Dylan Butler | Posted 16 days ago

With the Major League Season regular season over, and the postseason finally underway, its time for the league’s postseason awards to be unveiled.


And while MVP, Goalkeeper of the Year and Best XI are highly anticipated and debated, the Humanitarian of the Year is an award that is arguably as important because of its impact off the field. 


We take a look at the three finalists for the award, and their charitable efforts. 


Julian Araujo, LA Galaxy 


The plight of farmers resonates with the 20-year-old fullback, whose father, Jorge, was a former farmworker in Lompoc, Ca. Araujo, in conjunction with the LA Galaxy’s charitable arm, the LA Galaxy Foundation, helped his hometown and farmworkers like his dad by handing out $26,000 worth of gift cards and backpacks filled with food and cloth face masks to Lompoc farmworkers. 


Araujo also donated $1,700 to the United Farm Workers Foundation to start a fundraising campaign, using his Twitter account to raise awareness and additional funds. 


On the field, Araujo also had a banner year for the Galaxy, accomplishing career highs in games played (32), games started (32) and assists (7), while finishing tied for fourth in MLS in tackles won (54) and 11th in the league in interceptions (56). Araujo was also named to the MLS All-Star Game for the first time. 


Justin Morrow, Toronto FC 


A year ago, the Black Players for Change won the MLS Humanitarian of the Year award and it was Morrow who founded the organization, which aims to create positive change within MLS and its local communities. 


Morrow announced in September plans to retire at the conclusion of the 2021 season and pledged to “make the world a better place” when his playing days are over.


“Justin has had an exceptional career. He has been the type of player that gives everything he has and more - to his teammates, coaches, the environment, and the fans. I am so happy that I had the chance to work with him, and get to know him,” Toronto FC General Manager Ali Curtis said in a statement. “And, while his contributions on the field have been important over the years, I believe his greatest contributions will be off the field in the years to come. We have seen a glimpse of that in his role with Black Players for Change, but I really feel he has a bright future.”


Morrow spent the last eight seasons of his 12-year career, with Toronto FC, finishing second on the club’s all-time appearances list. In his final year, the 34-year-old made nine starts in 21 appearances, notching one assist. Morrow, who earned MLS Best XI honors in 2017, a season that saw Toronto win the treble — Supporters’ Shield, MLS Cup and Canadian Championship — started in the club’s MLS finale earlier this month. 


Brad Stuver, Austin FC 


In his first season with MLS expansion side Austin FC, Stuver teamed up with The Laundry Project, which helped lower income families meet a basic need of washing clothes and linens by converting laundromats into community centers of home. The group covers the laundry fees and assembles volunteers to assist. 


The 30-year-old goalkeeper, who had five shutouts in 33 starts in his first season as a regular starter, also advocated for transgender inclusion in youth sports, writing an op-ed piece for the Austin American-Statesman.


“Excluding transgender children from normal school activities fuels the type of school culture that no parent would want for their kids to experience — one that isolates and makes targets of kids who are just trying to be themselves,” Stuver wrote. “This is the worst type of message to give children. What right do governments have to tell children they aren’t welcome as they truly are?”


The MLS Humanitarian of the Year award was first given out in 2000. Matt Lampson is the only multiple winner, claiming the honor three times since 2016. 


Kim Kardashian West played a major role in a humanitarian effort involving the beautiful game by chartering a plane for members of women’s youth development soccer team from Afghanistan and their families from Pakistan to London. 


Since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, women playing sports was viewed as an act of defiance and thousands of athletes have fled in the months that followed. 


The soccer players also received assistance from English club Leeds United and Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, the founder of the Tzedek Association, a nonprofit U.S. group that also helped evacuate members of Kabul’s Jewish community from Afghanistan. 


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