It was a weekend of many goals and much excitement throughout the NASL over this past weekend.
The Carolina Railhawks overcame a 1-2 deficit in the final 4 minutes of the match to steal a 3-2 victory over Minnesota. Minnesota United FC got out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Simone Bracalello and former RailHawk Pablo Campos. A Floyd Franks spot kick then drew a goal back for the RailHawks just before half time. Despite dominating Minnesota in both possession and shots, the RailHawks had again found themselves trailing their opponents heading into the closing minutes of the match. Just as they’d done several times already this season, the RailHawks managed to not only equalize, but win the match with a brace from NASL player of the week and leading scorer, Brian Shriver.
When asked about what was going through his mind being down a goal with 10 minutes to play, Shriver said, “Actually, I was confident we’d get the equalizer. We were creating a lot of opportunities, and we’ve shown a lot of fight all year. I was feeling good about it.” He later went on to describe his feelings after scoring the game winner, “I was ecstatic! It was a huge goal for us, and to get all 3 points was great for the team and the fans. And it was a huge step to winning the first part of the season.”
Part of Robbie Rogers’ visit to the LA Gay & Lesbian Center with the MTV Act blog was a visit to their facilities for youth and to speak with teens.
The rate of homelessness among LGBT teens is disproportionately high (it’s estimated that 40% of youth on the street identify as LGBT), and Roger saw both the housing available for youth in need and a clothes closet available for job interviews. He also took questions from teens at the center, many of them athletes themselves. Youth in crisis is an issue that is very close to my heart, so it’s great to see Rogers reaching out in this way.
Last month the Timbers Army did a huge display for the International Day Against Homophobia, and it garnered lots of great attention.
Among those who noticed was Pride Northwest, who invited the TA to participate in this past weekend’s Portland Pride Parade. Naturally, the Timbers Army accepted the invitation and had a great turnout from their membership:
Amazing work, Timbers Army. Hopefully many more MLS Supporters groups will follow your example and participate in their local Pride observances!
If you want to see many more photographs of the TA at the Portland Pride Parade, you can check out this Army member’s Flikr site.
2013 Major League Soccer MVP and US Mens National Team player Chris Wondolowski has joined other Bay Area athletes to star in a video produced by Comcast SportsNet for the You Can Play Project.
Wondo, along with players from the Raiders, 49ers, Sharks, Warriors, Giants, and A’s, share the message that athletes are welcome on their teams no matter their sexual orientation. Every Bay Area major professional team is represented.
The ads are were produced by Comcast SportsNet Bay area along with the You Can Play Project. CSN Bay Area and CSN California both broadcast San Jose Earthquakes games so look for the spots on upcoming broadcasts.
You Can Play Founder Patrick Burke told USA Today: “We absolutely want to take this from the Bay Area to other cities. There’s no reason this shouldn’t go from the Bay Area to L.A., to Toronto, to Boston, to Chicago. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be done in every city.” Other regions for Comcast SportsNet cover the Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo, DC United, New England Revolution, and Philadelphia Union, so here’s to hoping that this is the first of many videos like this to hit the airwaves.
Robbie Rogers recently visited the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, and he spoke with MTV Act, the network’s blog that encourages viewers to take action on issues they care about.
He talks a future with other athletes coming out, hurtful things he heard in locker rooms, his coming out process, and his return to play with the LA Galaxy.
Robbie Rogers will also feature on the premiere of MLS Insider on the NBC Sports Network this Friday evening, and an upcoming episode of ESPN’s Outside the Lines with Julie Foudy. It’s great to see him moved to put himself out there like this. Hopefully some athletes struggling with their own sexuality are hearing what he has to say and gaining comfort and strength from his words.
MTV Act has more videos in their blog post, including discussion about gay marriage, the Boy Scouts, and the Move Beyond It Campaign. The blog will have more video to come from Rogers’ trip to the Gay and Lesbian center, which included a stop by its facility for homeless youth.
Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, is the latest school whose student athletes have made a video for the You Can Play Project.
The video includes the first badminton player to take part in a video for the project, and also third year men’s soccer forward Peter Haastrup:
Professional and collegiate sports programs producing videos expressing support for LGBT athletes is a big part of You Can Play, who announced a partnership with Major League Soccer last week. DC United and Toronto FC each made You Can Play videos last season. The new partnership has already yielded a training request from an MLS club.
Major League Soccer, along with the MLS Players Union, becomes the second major league to partner with the You Can Play Project.
Today Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Union announced a partnership with the You Can Play Project, becoming the second major league to do so.
Via the MLS/YCP release, League Commissioner Don Garber said:
The diversity found in our League has always been a point of pride for us. Our MLS WORKS ‘Don’t Cross the Line’ initiative is a strong statement that we are a league that stands against discrimination. We are proud to partner with You Can Play to ensure that all of our fans and players know that MLS is committed to providing a safe environment where everyone is treated equally, and with dignity and respect.
The You Can Play Project will become a go-to resource for MLS and the Union when it comes to LGBT issues in the league, providing resources directly to athletes. You Can Play will provide training to teams, players, and academies when requested as well as providing hard copies of materials to players through their clubs and Union. Resources will include education on LGBT issues, social media training, and answers to common questions athletes may have.
You Can Play will serve as a confidential and anonymous resource for Major League Soccer players, whether it be a gay player looking for help with issues around his own sexuality, or a straight player who has questions and needs someone open to discussing concerns honestly.
Prior to this official announcement, we’ve seen You Can Play work hand in hand with Major League Soccer and the San Jose Earthquakes as it provided diversity training to not only Alan Gordon after his use of a gay slur on the field, but also to the entire team and academy players. One thing that You Can Play sets as a guiding principle is to always have an out athlete as one of its speakers, and lacrosse player Andrew Goldstein joined YCP co-founder Patrick Burke in speaking to the Quakes. From all accounts it was a great experience for everybody involved.
From fans’ perspectives, look for more MLS teams to make videos for You Can Play, You Can Play Nights to happen in stadiums, and a presence of You Can Play on the league’s website.
Some other quotes from the announcement:
Bob Foose, Executive Director, MLS Players Union: “The MLS Players Union is proud to formalize a partnership with You Can Play. Our players strongly believe that, as the world’s most popular game, soccer should be open to everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. We as a Union are committed to expanding our outreach to ensure that all players and fans feel welcome in MLS as we continue to expand our dedicated and diverse fan base.”
Patrick Burke, Co-founder and President, You Can Play: “This partnership with MLS and the MLS Players Union confirms the message that MLS will not tolerate discrimination of any kind inside the locker rooms, on the field or in the stands. We will be able to provide vital resources directly to the players, while also ensuring that every soccer fan feels welcome to attend MLS events.”
Todd Dunivant, LA Galaxy Defender and Union Executive Board member: “As MLS players, we believe that our clubs are strongest when everyone feels safe and included in the locker room. In addition, we love our fans and want all of them to feel safe in our stands. We are excited to work with You Can Play to ensure that both our locker rooms and our stadiums are welcoming to the LGBT community.”
Stanford University has become the second PAC 12 school to make a video in support of LGBT athletes for the You Can Play Project.
The video features 28 student athletes, coaches, administrators, and staff all spreading the message that no matter what your sexual orientation or gender identity is, “If you can play, you can play.”
Of particular interest to soccer fans is the participation of forward Chioma Ubogagu, a member of the team that won Stanford’s first NCAA chmapionship. Internationally, her 89th minute goal last year secured the US Under 20 Team the CONCACAF Championship in a win over Canada. She was also a major player in the U-20 World Cup last year, scoring an extra time goal against North Korea to secure the USA a spot in the semifinals. The team would go on to defeat Nigeria and Germany to win the World Cup.
Go Cardinals and especially Chioma!
Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo is having a Pride Night once again this year, and once again they are doing an amazing job of it.
Plenty of other teams have been having Pride Nights over the last few years, but the Dynamo blend together a number of elements together in a perfect combination that what they do can be held up as an example for other clubs to follow:
1) Timing. The Dynamo don’t do their Pride in the Park night on a randomly selected date; they do it at a match as close as they can get to Pride Houston’s annual festival and parade. It’s also an official part of the Pride Houston festivities, integrated into everything that goes on throughout the city to celebrate the LGBT community.
All throughout May we asked Major League Soccer players to sign onto our Allies List. Now that the campaign is wrapped up it’s time to look at the numbers.
Before May: 80 listed allies in MLS.
After May: 135 listed allies in MLS (an increase of 55, or 69% growth!)
Before May: Two teams only had one ally a piece.
After May: The lowest number of allies on any team is four.
Before May: One team had eight allies, the most of any team.
After May: Two teams have eleven allies, two have ten, and four have nine. (Real Salt Lake and the New England Revolution are the teams at the top, if you’re the competitive type. )
Every team added at least one ally, with the LA Galaxy adding the most with six.
Thank you to everyone who helped recruit in May!
Of course we’ll continue asking MLS players and players from other leagues to sign on. We’ll take a break from doing a dedicated push and pick things back up again. Also, if you’re willing to help let us know; we tend to focus on MLS because they curate Twitter lists better than any other league.