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Before practice, a commercial to shoot

Saturday, May 22, 2010
May 22
7:22
PM ET
PRINCETON, N.J. -- Tim Howard's teeth were pearly white, clean and completely free of any unattractive food particles. But Stuart Holden didn't care. As the 24-year-old Holden watched the veteran goalkeeper smile and pose during a photo shoot to help raise money for charity, he saw every opportunity to make the 31-year-old Howard cringe.

"Damn, Tim -- what did you have for lunch, man?"

Howard ignored him and continued smiling for the camera. Holden continued.

"Must have been spinach. Had to be spinach. You've got these big green pieces on your teeth. You know that, right? You know you've got these green things on your teeth? I'm just trying to help you out."

Howard continued to ignore him. Holden refused to stop.

"Tim, I wish you could see the way your head just shines under all these lights," Holden said of the goalie's hairless dome. "People might go blind trying to watch this at home."

Finally, Howard looked into a nearby video camera and spoke. "Is this rolling?" he asked. After being told yes, Howard continued. "Did I ever tell you about the time little Stewie ... "

Howard stopped, looked at Holden and the two laughed. It was all for charity. Howard, Holden and teammate Clint Dempsey each recorded individual commercials Sunday asking fans to vote for each of their fundraising campaigns as part of the Pepsi Refresh Project. The beverage maker is giving away more than $1 million to people who pitch ideas that can benefit the world.

Holden's idea is to raise money for Holden's Heroes, the 1-year-old charity the Houston Dynamo midfielder began to help children battling cancer. Dempsey was competing for research on brain aneurysms, the ailment that unexpectedly killed his sister when she was just 16. And Howard was competing to raise money for those stricken with Tourette's syndrome, the neurological disorder he has battled his entire life.

"I want to make sure no family has to go through the nightmare that we did losing my sister," Dempsey said.

"I want to do whatever we can to help kids get through their darkest days," Howard said.

"I want kids who are facing the biggest challenge in their life to feel like there is someone there for them," Holden said.

Fans will vote for their favorite idea among the three at ussoccer.com and the winner will receive $50,000 for his charity.

Despite the serious tone of their messages Sunday, the players shared plenty of laughs during the shoot. Beyond the banter between Holden and Howard there was Dempsey's insecurities about reading his lines through a teleprompter.

"I'm not all that great at reading, nevertheless reading when the lines are moving," Dempsey told the director before they began.

"I'm sure you'll be fine," the director told him. "We just did a bunch of baseball players and soccer players have to be better than baseball players at this."

"I don't know," Dempsey replied. "You haven't met me yet."

Dempsey read his lines without incident. In fact, the director told him he was the first person in some 16 shoots with various professional athletes to read the second part of the script without needing a second take.

"Wooohoooo," Dempsey shouted. "I can read!"

Here are some behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot:

Dempsey

Wayne Drehs/ESPN.com

 

Soccer Commercial

Wayne Drehs/ESPN.com

 

Dempsey commercial

Wayne Drehs

 

Dempsey commercial

Wayne Drehs

 

Soccer Commercial Dempsey

Wayne Drehs/ESPN.com

 

Dempsey

Wayne Drehs/ESPN.com

 

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