In 2013, MLS WORKS – Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative – announced a partnership with Special Olympics to bring soccer to athletes with intellectual disabilities, leveraging the strength of Major League Soccer to promote awareness, respect, inclusion and acceptance of Special Olympics athletes throughout the soccer community.
Unique to this partnership is an exchange program for Special Olympics Unified Sports soccer teams, which are teams comprised of players both with and without intellectual disabilities. These Special Olympics Unified Sports soccer teams, supported by their respective clubs, not only receive training from their own MLS players and coaches, but also travel to other MLS markets to train alongside their Special Olympics counterparts.
Minnesota United added its own Special Olympics Unified Squad when it entered the league in 2017, kicking off that year against the Houston Dynamo both home and away. Athletes for the MNUFC Unified Team sign special two-game contracts and represent the club in games both at Allianz Field and on the road.