Five MLS games postponed as teams protest racial injustice

Five of six Major League Soccer games scheduled for Wednesday night were postponed as leagues and teams across the United States continue to protest racial injustice.

While the earliest scheduled MLS game — Orlando City SC vs. Nashville SC — kicked off as scheduled at 7:30 p.m. ET, a game scheduled a half hour later — Inter Miami CF vs. Atlanta United — was initially delayed and then ultimately postponed.

Orlando went on to win its game, 3-1.

Teams involved in the night’s remaining four games — FC Dallas-Colorado Rapids, Real Salt Lake-Los Angeles FC, San Jose Earthquakes-Portland Timbers, and Los Angeles Galaxy-Seattle Sounders — shortly followed suit.

After the decision was made to postpone Wednesday night’s game, players for Atlanta and Miami — many of who were wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts — gathered with referees on the field to stand together in solidarity. 

Atlanta United released a statement, saying, “We stand in solidarity with the Black community, with our players, our city and our fans in the fight against injustice. We must use our voices to be the change.”

The cascade of postponements started with the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to not play their NBA playoff game to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The NBA then decided to postpone all of Wednesday’s playoff games. The WNBA called off Wednesday night’s games. Major League Baseball had a number of its games postponed, as well.

On Wednesday night, MLS released a statement, saying, “The entire Major League Soccer family is deeply saddened and horrified by the senseless shooting of Jacob Blake and events in Kenosha. We continue to stand with the Black community throughout our country — including our players and employees — and share in their pain, anger and frustration.

“MLS unequivocally condemns racism and has always stood for equality, but we need to do more to take tangible steps to impact change. We will continue to work with our players, our clubs and the broader soccer community to harness our collective power to fight for equality and social justice.”

A number of the league’s players tweeted their desire to not play, including Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei and Los Angeles FC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye.

Toronto FC and U.S. national team forward Jozy Altidore — whose team is slated to play the Montreal Impact on Friday night in the league’s next scheduled game — tweeted his support of the players’ decisions to not play Wednesday: “Proud of sports tonight and all of my guys in MLS” 

The MLS resumed its regular season in home markets last week. Its MLS is Back Tournament concluded on Aug. 11 with the Portland Timbers emerging as champions.