A day after five MLS games were postponed following a shooting of a Black man by police in Wisconsin, Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath on Thursday said his team plans to train Friday and play Saturday at Dallas “as normal.”
The NBA, WNBA and MLB postponed a combined nine games Wednesday when players refused to play to protest racial injustice after Jacob Blake was shot seven times Sunday in Kenosha, Wis. MLS postponed five of six scheduled games, all but a Nashville-Orlando game.
“We are preparing as though everything is as was,” Heath said in a regularly scheduled conference call with reporters two days before a game. “Obviously, what can I say? Another different evening, another crazy night. So we’ll be led as always by the players and the league front office. But we’ll prepare as best we can with the view that everything will go ahead as normal.”
After the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play an NBA playoff game Wednesday night in Orlando and athletes in MLS and others followed by doing the same, Loons veteran and MLS Players Association executive board member Ethan Finlay tweeted “Proud to see players using their platform and power to make change. Now it’s time politicians and officials to take notice and do their part.”
MLS players have worn “Black Lives Matter” warmup T-shirts and social justice references that remember George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others since the start of the MLS is Back tournament in July.
MLS’ Black Players for Change organized a pregame protest in which 170 Black MLS players, including all of Minnesota United’s Black players, raised a fist and fell silent for eight minutes and 46 seconds before the tournament’s first game.
Heath said he hadn’t talked with any of his players since Wednesday’s postponements spread across leagues because his team had a scheduled day off Thursday. His starters and their opposition have kneeled and many raised fists briefly before games.
“By tomorrow [Friday] we’ll have a better understanding of the sporting landscape,” Heath said. “We’re going to be led a little bit by what’s happened elsewhere. This isn’t purely as simple as Minnesota players decided. … Getting all that information to make a decision that’s universally accepted is not easy. We’ll be led by what’s come our way.”
Heath said he knows racial justice matters weigh on his players.
“This group speaks about all these issues all the time,” Heath said. “As I’ve said before, I’ve been really proud how they conducted themselves individually and collectively. We want, like everybody else, to do what’s right. So we’ll be led by our players, their union, the league MLS and we’ll do whatever is necessary to help this situation.”