Major League Soccer (Courtesy photo)

In an effort to highlight locals’ contributions to soccer during All-Star Week in Washington, D.C., Major League Soccer (MLS) paid special tribute to the storied Howard University soccer program. The ceremony, which took place at the Willard Hotel in Northwest, Washington, honored Howard University coaches Lincoln Phillips, Keith Tucker and Phillip Gyau as Honorary Hometown Heroes. 

The legendary Phillips led the Howard program to national NCAA championships in 1971 and 1974, becoming the first HBCU to win a national title at the Division 1 level. 

“I got a chance to talk with him during the week and I was greatly impressed with him,” said Quincy Amirkwa, Founder of the Black Players for Change Organization.  “What he has done for the sport of soccer, not only in this area, but in the country is phenomenal”.   

“This is truly a landmark,” said Phillips, who has been featured in a documentary, “Redemption” based on the journey to national prominence for the program.  “To have this type of recognition to Howard University and its program is humbling.  I am very proud to stand here.  I always say that doctors save lives, but coaches make lives. 

Tucker, who played for Phillips, coached under him and later took over as head coach, where he led the Bison to an undefeated season and trip to the national championship in 1988. 

“I am truly honored to receive this prestigious award on behalf of my alma mater,” said Tucker.  “It is really special to see soccer grow and to know that we at Howard University had something to do with its exposure in this country.” 

“You could tell Keith was going to be a coach from the time he played at Howard,” recalled Phillips.  “I was convinced that he was ready to be a coach when he served under me as an assistant. A head coach is only as good as his assistant.” 

Gyau received his training, first as a youngster under the tutelage of Phillips when he was 10 years old.  He would later take the acquired skills and knowledge to have an outstanding college and professional career before returning to his alma mater when he now serves as head coach. 

“Coach Gyau is bringing the Howard soccer program back to prominence,” offered Phillips.  “He is widely respected in the soccer community and I am proud to say that his team was the top-rated school in the NEC (Northeast Conference) in academics this past year.” 

Other Honorary Hometown Heroes included So Kids Soar, WETATI Academy, Rainbow Families and Latin American Youth Center.  All were cited for their contributions to the DMV community. 

MLS Creates a Unique All Star Week 

MLS made this one of the most unique all-star weeks.  It was a series of events that were designed to get the youth and the community involved. 

The organization partnered with Seton Elementary and had 6,000 volunteers pass out meals for 100,000 residents.  DC Scores also contributed by providing an on-going program designed to combine the teaching of writing skills and soccer instructions. 

There was also a soccer skills event at the White House that featured participation of First Lady Jill Biden and the Head of State himself, President Joe Biden. 

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