The Seattle Sounders blew out Minnesota United FC Friday evening, toppling the Loons with a four-goal second half that saw them shut the away side out 4-0 by the end of the match. However, that was just a soccer game. It was 90 minutes of entertainment between two professional men’s soccer teams. And there are more important things than whatever happened on the pitch last night, and both teams recognized that.
And they made sure that viewers and those who attended the match did, too.
Before kickoff, FS1 lead MLS commentator John Strong announced that both teams would be wearing black armbands during the match to bring awareness to the death of and honor Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was shot and killed by a Brooklyn Center police officer on April 11th.
Both teams wore the armbands after Minnesota introduced the idea to Seattle this past week. According to Strong, the Sounders players loved the idea of it and wanted to help in any way possible.
According to a club spokesperson, players approached MNUFC Community Relations Manager, Cori Frankenburg, about wanting to show their support for their community and honor Wright.
In a statement posted on the club’s social media platforms pregame, MNUFC explained their reasoning behind the armbands:
The decision to wear a black armband is not made lightly. The team is wearing it to honor Daunte Wright and recognize his tragic death, but also because we know our community is hurting. Not just from this one incident, but daily from the lack of equality and equity that persist through so much of our society. We still believe, though, that our culture and world can be what we make it and that we as a team in an organization can be part of the push for a world that accepts, celebrates, and cherishes diversity and the strength that it brings.
Wright’s death has seen seven straight nights of protesting in the streets in Minnesota, including during last night’s match. MNUFC head coach Adrian Heath spoke about how upset he was to hear about Wright’s death and what the armbands meant to the Loons players.
“I think the one thing is, we’re so disappointed that, here we go again. We thought after the last year that maybe, I think as I’ve said on a few occasions, I just thought it might be different this time, but maybe it’s not. We still have an awful long way to go,” Heath said. “I know that the players and [the Sounders] talked about it, so it was a gesture from them.
“A little bit of solidarity for what people are trying to achieve. Anything that we can do, however little, at this moment in time, it seems to be that this is a problem. We’ve got to keep it in the mainstream. We’ve got to keep it highlighted and not let this persist. Because, as I say, it’s incredibly disappointing what’s going on.”
Loons midfielder Wil Trapp spoke further postgame on what wearing the armbands meant to him and his team and how, as professional male soccer players, they have a platform to stand up for injustice.
“We as players, we try to, as many people say, leverage your platform for awareness on many things,” he said. “And obviously, the news coming out of Minneapolis this past week was very saddening, very difficult to process, and I think anything we can do to bring attention to that is important while also doing our jobs. I think our loudest voices come when we are playing our sport and when we are doing our job, and I think this was a way to do that.”
Minnesota United returns home next weekend on Saturday, April 24th, to host Real Salt Lake in their home opener. It’s unknown if the team will continue to wear the armbands or engage in some other form of protest before kickoff.