Showdown In Chinatown

It has become a fixture of NBA draft week in Manhattan: Steve Nash's “Showdown In Chinatown" soccer game.

The charity match, co-staged by Nash and retired American soccer star Claudio Reyna, returns Wednesday night to the turf of Sara D. Roosevelt Park, once again free to the public on the eve of the draft.

Nash and Reyna will be serving as team captains in the 8-on-8 match, which benefits their respective foundations and brings together famous faces from the basketball and soccer worlds.

Rosters are tentative until the game actually starts at 6 p.m., as with any charity event, but the list of expected participants includes two top point guards besides Nash – San Antonio’s Tony Parker and Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings – as well as a couple of soccer surprises.

Surprise No. 1: Villareal striker and recent ESPN The Magazine cover boy Giuseppe Rossi would have been unavailable for the Showdown had Italy, as widely expected, selected the 23-year-old for its World Cup team. But Rossi, who had the right to represent either Italy or the United States in international play, has put aside the disappointment of the snub to return to the public eye on American soil.

Surprise No. 2: Anthony LaPaglia, perhaps best known in this country for playing Daphne’s raucous brother from England on “Frasier,” was a former professional goalkeeper in his native Australia and will reprise that role in this third edition of the Showdown.

Other scheduled participants include Nash’s Suns teammate Jared Dudley and former teammate Raja Bell, footballers Mathieu Flamini (AC Milan), Juan Pablo Angel (New York Red Bulls) and Simone Motta (Serie A alumnus now at Serie B club Novara in Italy), Red Bulls assistant coach Richie Williams, former soccer pro-turned-journalist Simone Sandri of La Gazzetta dello Sport … and a certain intruder from ESPN.com who doesn’t like to write about himself.

More information on the game, pre-and-post-match activities and Nash’s charitable organization can be found here.