On Thursday morning, the Philadelphia Union walked out onto the field to face NYCFC in the first game of the ‘MLS is back’ tournament. What surprised just about everyone though were the jerseys.
The players weren’t wearing their regular names. Goalkeeper Andre Blake, for instance, donned “Floyd’. Ray Gaddis wore ‘Taylor’. It became very clear that the Union had decided to send a message. A message that Black Lives Matter. Each player wore the name of a black person who lost their life to police brutality.
Head Coach Jim Curtin spoke proudly of his team’s dedication to education following their 1-0 win.
“There are certainly things going on in our country right now that are far bigger than Soccer. I’m very proud of my players for the last four months and the leadership they’ve shown. For taking a real leadership role with the Black Lives Matter movement, for educating a lot of players on our team. The idea behind today was action over permission, and I hope the league understands that. I hope the league can embrace that and wrap their head around that. It was done to learn, to grow, and to make our country better. I’m proud of our players for everything they’ve done on the field and off the field.”
Team captain and the man who scored the Union’s winning goal, Alejandro Bedoya, also donned a captain’s armband that listed those same names.
We’ve seen players in the Premier League take a knee. We’ve seen Black Lives Matter T-Shirts. We have not seen a team take a stance as strong or as eye-catching as this. The Philadelphia Union are not only on the right side of the fight against social injustice, but leading the way.
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports