Can you hear that? It’s gameday, right around the corner. Here’s your Morning Tea.
It’s inarguable that the past two months have brought a change in the conversation when it comes to systemic racism in the United States and other countries around the world.
Members of our USL Championship community gave voice to those emotions as contributors to the From the Pitch series, led by Charlotte Independence defender Hugh Roberts’ piece, “Justice”.
This weekend, we’re going to see more of that before and during games as clubs roll out their own initiatives to aid progress in their communities. On Wednesday evening, Phoenix Rising FC launched its Rising Against Racism platform, a player-driven initiative aimed at calling out racism and promoting rising together in the community.
The team will wear new t-shirts prior to its contest with the LA Galaxy II on Saturday night at Casino Arizona Field, and proceeds from the sale of the shirts will benefit Black Family & Child Services of Arizona.
“We’re fortunate enough to have so many cultures in the sport that we play,” said defender Darnell King in the video launch, where he was joined by goalkeeper Zac Lubin, and midfielders Kevon Lambert and Jon Bakero. “You want to unify that and try and rise as one.”
Joining Rising FC on Thursday was San Diego Loyal SC, which unveiled a new special-edition “Black Lives Matter” jersey that the club will wear in its return to the field on Saturday against Real Monarchs SLC, and for select games during the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Game-worn jerseys will be auctioned at the end of the season, with profits going toward the Association of African American Educators of San Diego.
“As a professional sport team, we have a duty to use our voices in a productive, meaningful way to benefit our communities,” said SD Loyal EVP of Soccer Operations and First Team Manager Landon Donovan. “We will not be silent about racial injustice and encourage our fans and community to join us in taking a stand.”
So too were Roberts’ own Charlotte Independence, which this week launched the One Club, One Love initiative and the creation of an anti-racism task force, which includes members of the local community, the club’s front office and coaching staffs of both the Independence and the club’s academy.
After Wednesday night’s moving scenes at the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando led by the newly-formed Black Players for Change prior to kickoff between Orlando City SC and Inter Miami FC, players and clubs are looking to ensure the fight for justice doesn’t end just because the games have returned.
Proud of the players for the unity they've been showing and even prouder of the discussions & dialogue that it's creating between teammates, staff, media and fans!— John Pascarella (@JPSoccerCoach) July 9, 2020
We are all listening, learning and gaining perspective in these discussions. https://t.co/GhIovLgpp0
- It’s fair to say USL President Jake Edwards has been busy in the last couple of days, including sitting down for interviews as the Championship returns to play. Edwards was a guest on The USL Show, where talks with the USL Players Association and the league’s bid to join the Concacaf League in the future were among the topics.
- Then with Sacramento Republic FC podcast The Breakaway, Edwards talked about the various options the Championship had as it planned its return to play, and a bigger picture discussion on the impact the USL has and is having on the development of soccer in the United States.
- Also on the A Healthy Obsession podcast, Edwards spoke about his path to joining the United Soccer League and becoming its President, as well as the always-popular topic of promotion and relegation, and what that could offer the USL in the future.
- Later today, Edwards is also going to be the guest of Ian Thomas on Front Office Sports’ Fundamentals web series, where also among this week’s guests were U.S. Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin and Patrick Mouratoglou, coach to legendary tennis player Serena Williams.
- There will be 13 games in 16 days on ESPN networks when the season resumes, with two more games being added to ESPN Deportes’ schedule on Thursday morning. The two new matchups will see San Diego Loyal SC and Head Coach Landon Donovan face the LA Galaxy II on July 19, and Saint Louis FC host Indy Eleven in what feels like a must-see game on July 26.
- Real Monarchs SLC will have a new option in attack available on Saturday when it hosts San Diego Loyal SC at Rio Tinto Stadium on ESPN Deportes, with the side having acquired Ryan Sierakowski from the Portland Timbers 2. The Monarchs will also have Andrew Brody and Josh Heard back in the fold after their loan spells with Austrian club FC Pinzgau.
- Rio Grande Valley FC also introduced three new faces ahead of its meeting with El Paso Locomotive FC, with former Minnesota United FC defender Carter Manley joining the club and midfielder James Murphy making his return to the Championship after spending a season in Scotland with Arbroath.
- Phoenix Rising FC newcomer Rufat Dadashov scored a hat trick in his debut back in March, and Head Coach Rick Schantz believes that was just the start for the Azerbaijani forward. The Arizona Republic’s Briar Napier took a look at what Dadashov brings as Adam Jahn’s replacement.