Our team by team recruitment drive for professional soccer players to join our Allies List begins today with the Montreal Impact.
This is our second time spending May going team by team through Major League Soccer asking players to sign on as allies of the LGBT community. You can also ask players of any team, any league to join in person to grab those who aren’t on social media. And of course, you can join yourself.
Defender Jeb Brovsky was the only player we added from the Montreal Impact last may, and ally Justin Braun was traded to Salt Lake and now Toronto leaving Brovsky the only ally on our list.
So let’s get the month started off in a big way; Montreal certainly has a big enough list of players on Twitter. We’ll be asking and so can you. Just have players tweet their support using our @gay4soccer handle or the #soccerally hashtag. We’ll be keeping an eye on both.
Here we go!
I hate Star Wars Day.
Well, not really. If you’re a fan of something and want to celebrate it, bully for you. Towel Day, Fish Fingers and Custard Day, Star Wars Day–if someone comes up with a day to celebrate your sci-fi proclivities, have at it. My problem is Major League Soccer latching on to one of these such days and jamming down our throats for a few weeks of the season. (At least The Doctor likes his footie.)
It’s gimmicky. It reminds us of the days when the Kansas City Wizards danced around to Austin Powers music and the league overly catered to the suburban family who might be out looking for a super-fun day rather than celebrating the game that is being played and the fans that enjoy the match for the match. Nonsense like that Austin Powers video is one of the reasons I was a soccer-hater for so many years.
And will Star Wars Day help grow the game? No, probably not. Is there some Star Wars fan thinking, “Well I’ve never been to PPL Park before, but I heard it’s Star Wars Day so I’ll give it a try?” No. Is there someone pondering, “I’ve never watched soccer on TV before but I’ll tune into NBC Sports Network because I bet Kyle Martino has some killer Chewbacca jokes?” No.
It’s also a bit more than frustrating that Star Wars Day (which won’t grow the game) is this heavy handed league-wide thing and proper LGBT Pride Nights (which will grow the game) are sparse. I know of one on the schedule so far this upcoming season. (By the way, Houston front office, you rock.) Proper LGBT Pride Nights will grow the game by welcoming a group into our stadia that often feels excluded as both participants and spectators for so many reasons from athletics in this country. And yet they are not yet a priority for this league.
Now Major League Soccer, how about you put down your light sabres and work on things that will actually help grow the game in this country. Not having nationally broadcast matches that run until 1 AM Monday morning would be a swell start.
Multiple Major League Soccer clubs express an interest in having the winger on their side
— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) April 30, 2013
Robbie Rogers began his anticipated training stint with the LA Galaxy, leading to further speculation as to his full-time return to MLS and interest from multiple coaches.
Alan Gordon spoke with the San Jose Mercury News after receiving a three-game suspension for using a gay slur in Sunday’s Earthquakes game against the Timbers.
He revealed that he has been in touch with out player Robbie Rogers through mutual friend Steven Lenhart to apologize, who understood how words can at times slip out at the heat of the game.
Gordon far from uses the heat of the moment as an excuse when he spoke with the Mercury News, though:
“I’m the furthest thing from being homophobic,” Gordon said. “That’s why it hurt. I can honestly appreciate the sensitively of the word if I put myself in other people’s shoes. That has not come out of my mouth since high school. It’s not language I use. It’s despicable.”
There are more powerful quotes from Alan Gordon in the Mercury News piece. They also spoke with the You Can Play Project’s Patrick Burke, who with David Testo will be doing diversity training with the team soon.
According to the LA Galaxy Insider, coach Bruce Arena did not say if he was approached by Rogers, but he would be welcomed back to training with open arms.
From the Insider:
“He’d always be welcome to train with us,” LA’s head coach said. ”I’m in contact with players and people all the time in the game, and I don’t make my conversations or communications public. They don’t need to be. But he’s always welcome to train with us.”
You Can Play provides a very unique training opportunity for the Quakes, because they bring both the expertise of LGBT advocates like founder Brendan Burke and the experience of LGBT athletes to its learning experiences. Former MLS and NASL midfielder David Testo is a member of the YCP board, and will play a role in the Quakes training.
The entire Earthquakes squad will be going through the training sessions, and not just Alan Gordon, who is mandated by the League to undergo diversity training.
From the Earthquakes’ release:
“We have enlisted the You Can Play Project to meet with our players and coaches to discuss the issues facing LGBT athletes in sports,” said Earthquakes President Dave Kaval. “They have built a great organization and we look forward to learning from their expertise and to furthering our work toward true unity in our locker room.”
Last week You Can Play entered a formal partnership with the National Hockey League and its Players Association. While not yet a partnership of this level, it’s great to see an MLS team working with YCP!
The Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee has suspended San Jose Earthquakes forward Alan Gordon three games for his use of a gay slur Sunday night in the Quakes’ match against the Portland Timbers.
This is in addition to an automatic one-game suspension for being ejected from the game after receiving a second yellow card after elbowing Timbers player Mikael Silvestre.
Alan Gordon will also be fined an undisclosed amount and attend diversity training beyond that which is part of the standard preseason training.
Said Commissioner Don Garber:
Major League Soccer stands against discrimination and prejudice of any kind and will not tolerate this type of behavior. All of our players, staff and fans must remain committed to respect and dignity at all times.
It’s commendable to see the League act so quickly and maintain the same zero tolerance policy and repercussions set last season. Beyond the League-mandated punishment it would be great to see Gordon go above and beyond what is demanded and use this time to reach out to his local LGBT community, much like Marc Burch did during the off-season.
Forward Alan Gordon clearly used a gay slur in the 60th minute of last night’s MLS match between his San Jose Earthquakes and the Portland Timbers.
The look on Gordon’s face immediately afterward showed a keen awareness of what he had just said, and his apparent target Will Johnson flashed him the number three as a sign of the now-standard three-game suspension that was issued to Colin Clark and Marc Burch last year. (Incidentally, while with Salt Lake Johnson was also who Burch directed the same insult toward.)
Deadspin captured the video and slowed down the moment in question.
Following the match Alan Gordon issued a statement via the Earthquakes’ website:
I sincerely apologize for what I said in our game tonight. Although I said it in the heat of the moment, that language has no place in our game. That is not my character, but there is still no excuse for saying what I said. I made a mistake and I accept full responsibility for my actions.
Beyond the expected suspension for this incident, Alan Gordon also has an automatic one game suspension as he was ejected from the game for a second yellow card for elbowing Portland’s Mikael Silvestre. It will also be interesting to see if Gordon does anything beyond any suspension handed down by the Disciplinary Committee, much like Marc Burch did in Seattle over the off season.
Will Johnson scored the lone goal of the game, a beautiful free kick leading to the Portland Timbers’ 1-0 win.
A little less than a year ago, I asked my friend Prairie (one of the first Soccer Allies, for the record) if she could help me come up with an idea for a Pride-esque flag I could wear to Revs games. She’s got lots of experience in designing and painting tifo for New England and for the national teams, so I thought she might have a concept in mind.
What we came up with was this:
I’ve come to call it the New England Pride Flag. It’s an amalgam of two flags; the traditional gay pride flag you see throughout June, and the old-school Flag of New England.
I like to think it stands in a subtle contrast to the pride flags you may see elsewhere in the league. It pretty obviously reflects the LGBT pride that we’ve got up here in New England, but it also stands up as a subtle “this is who we are, who the hell are you?” flag.
This is us. New England has Pride; what have you got going on?
So that’s my challenge – show us your pride, and show us a way that your pride can stand out.
The Montreal Impact had their home opener this past weekend, and out alumnus David Testo was honored as captain of their 2009 USL championship-winning team.
As part of celebrations for the club’s twentieth anniversary, the team wore their new third kits that are a nod to past and held a pregame ceremony featuring players from their three championship seasons prior to joining Major League Soccer.
David Testo came out of the closet in the fall of 2011 soon after being released by the Montreal Impact as they worked to transition from NASL to MLS. He has often cited not being able to thank his partner has he captained his team to the championship as one of the most difficult points in his life as a closeted athlete.
Also honored were Testo’s teammates Matt Jordan, Rocco Placentino, Eduardo Sebrango, and Patrick Leduc, as well as António Ribeiro who won the 2004 USL Championship and multiple Voyageurs Cups with the Impact and John Limniatis who was on their 1994 APSL Championship team.
The Impact went on to defeat Toronto FC 2-1, continuing their perfect early season.