Tag Archives: Pride night

United Night OUT Sees D.C. Best Orlando

Sarah Kallassy - DC United/mlsfemale
Official D.C. United Reporter

By Sarah Kallassy // @SarahKallassy

D.C. United v Orlando City SC: 1-0

D.C. United XI: Bill Hamid; Joseph Mora, Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Leonardo Jara; Chris Durkin, Russell Canouse, Lucas Rodriguez, Ulises Segura, Luciano Acosta (Quincy Amarikwa, 88′); Wayne Rooney 

A Match, A Celebration, A Remembrance

Photo credit: D.C. United

Wednesday night saw Audi Field packed for both the matchup between D.C. United and Orlando City SC and for United Night OUT. The win against Orlando made the evening even more special, as D.C. United Captain Wayne Rooney scored from his own half in a feat he has pulled off for each club he’s played for now, including Manchester United and Everton.

Falling just before the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a historic moment that sparked the gay rights movement in the United States, this year’s United Night OUT was particularly poignant.  

Photo credit: D.C. United

While this year isn’t the first that D.C. United has celebrated Pride, it is the first year that the club has changed its logo on social media in support, and the second-year players have worn rainbow numbers and the rainbow captain’s armband.  D.C. United also held a minute’s applause in the 49′ for those who lost their lives in the Pulse Night Club shooting in Orlando.

I was lucky enough to spend part of the match with Jim Ensor, a D.C. United season ticket holder since 1996 and a member of Federal Triangles Soccer Club (FTSC), the organization that hosts United Night OUT.

Photo credit: Jim Ensor

United Night OUT is presented by Team DC as part of their Night OUT series. Ensor and FTSC worked closely with D.C. United to coordinate the entire evening, from the coin toss and flag bearers, to the performance of the National Anthem by DC Different Drummers. Through the FTSC website, over 500 tickets were sold, a portion of their proceeds donated to D.C. Scores.

An interview with Jim Ensor

While we all tried to recover Rooney’s first half stunner, and had our fingers crossed that Orlando wouldn’t score, Ensor kindly discussed his thoughts on United Night OUT with me:

Sarah Kallassy: What would you like to see the community to gain from United Night OUT?

Jim Ensor: I want people to feel that they are part of this club, I want them to feel comfortable in the stands. I want them to be excited about the team on the field and feel connected to the organization behind the team on the field. More importantly, I want the team to reach out to the community as a whole…however you identify, we all are the community.

SK: How can someone be an ally or a better ally?

JE: Allies can listen, participate, and really be a part of it.

Listen. Be a part of our peoples’ lives, encourage them to be themselves. Allow them the opportunity to express themselves and create without judgement. We don’t need pandering; we don’t need sympathy. It’s very normal. That’s probably the biggest lesson, is to understand that its normal. 

Participate, learn more about what it is we’re going through. Learn more about our history. When we get to a point that parents and family and friends are not worried about someone coming out, or not feeling like they have to be an ally, that’s when we’re in a better place.

SK: What would you like someone to take away from tonight?

JE: The sense of community and being united is the most important part of it. We’ve got a long way to go. We have a very long way to go. I’ll continue to advocate for participation and inclusion, and for us to be united on and off the field.

“I don’t take it lightly that I’m sitting here feeling comfortable in the stands at a professional event, where they feel comfortable acknowledging our existence, acknowledging that we are part of the community. There are a lot of people that have paved the way to this and sacrificed and given up a lot for us to be here and enjoy this moment.”

Jim Ensor, Federal Triangles Soccer Club

Author’s note: A special thank you to Jim Ensor, who was one of the first people in the D.C. United community to welcome me as a reporter to this club. It was an honor to speak with you, and I will always remember what you said about the responsibility of this platform and honoring those who have come before me.

Featured image: @unitednightout

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @SarahKallassy

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Loons lose two, despite not allowing early goals

Bridget McDowell - Minnesota United FC/mlsfemale
Official Minnesota United FC Reporter

By Bridget McDowell // @BCMcDowell

Minnesota United’s last two matches are about as ridiculous a juxtaposition as I have ever seen between two performances with the same result. The first appeared an easy win on paper, but in reality, while allowing the brightest ‘up-and-coming’ names to make their case, tested the Loons’ grit and the coach’s tactics. The second matched a daunting foe with a depleted side in a new formation. Opportunities mounted, celebrations sparked repeatedly and….

And nothing. The Loons have nothing to show for it.

United played perhaps its most passionate game of the season in Colorado last Saturday and throngs of away fans were there to disrupt the home sides’ broadcast mics for the whole show. And both sides did put on quite a show. The Loons struck first. When Rapids keeper Tim Howard blocked Darwin Quintero’s tap-in, he sent it spinning just off his line. Few players on either side reacted quickly, but United midfielder Miguel Ibarra rushed the box and launched both the ball and himself into the back of the net to put the Loons up 1-0.

Colorado wouldn’t answer until the second half, when Edgar Castillo sent one past Bobby Shuttleworth to tie it up in the 50th minute. Fifteen minutes later Christian Ramirez tapped one in, assisted by Ibarra and Quintero, to regain the lead. For nine minutes, it appeared the lead may hold, that the Loons could hold them off, but Shkelzen Gashi and Danny Wilson worked the gaps to set up a beauty from Joe Mason. 2-2, in the 74th minute. Then disaster.

Ibarra, attempting to take the ball from Joe Mason of the Rapids for quick restart, appeared to (from the official’s perspective) take a swing at Mason’s head. Ibarra was shoved to the ground by Jack Price and further agitated. As his teammates ran to his defense, Ibarra was shown red. Ejected.

The ten-man side looked dejected as they fought to maintain a one-point result away. The Loons gutted it out for thirteen minutes and both sides showed some, um, passion as they defended their goals at all costs. But grit and passion weren’t enough for United.

Nearly eight minutes into the announced minimum six minutes (yeah, you read that correctly) of stoppage time, Gashi takes a corner and connects with Joe Mason’s head. Goal. Whistle. Loss.

Cue fan anger. The sentiment #HeathOut, having grown from an occasional addition to banter to the first reaction of many fans on Twitter, spawned an account with the handle @HeathOut. Since that match, Is Heath Gone Yet? has tweeted every day, just a word or two each denoting the gaffer’s status: ‘Nope.’ ‘Naw.’ ‘Nein.’ ‘Nuh uh.’ ‘Nopers.’ Of course, there’s always this positive outlook: They didn’t give up a goal in the opening ten minutes.

Ahead of Minnesota’s home game against FC Dallas on Friday, the account posted, “Not today. Maybe Tomorrow.”  Present and accounted for, Heath rolled out a different formation of depleted Loons that offered hope for goals against a strong Dallas side. The 3-5-2 pulled one defender, Tyrone Mears,  forward into the midfield, which has leaked like a sieve all year.

Mears played right wing opposite Alexi Gomez, freeing up Ibson and Rasmus Schuller (usually the two in Heath’s 4-2–3-1) to track forward and back without leaving too much room for a Dallas counter. With these box-to-box roamers behind an attacking duo of Quintero and Ramirez, what could go wrong?

Against the Rapids, the Loons were efficient with their shots. Out of twelve total, eight were on target, two of which found the net. Taking note of the Law of Averages, the Loons peppered shots into the Toros’ box. But only five of their fifteen shots were on target.

Schuller nearly had a highlight reel screamer, but it curled wide. Ibson sent two brilliant shots wide. Ramirez sent a few wide, failed to connect on the end of others. Quintero went wide. It was as if the humid haze above the artificial turf created a force field between the sticks. As if a rifle shooter neglected to zero in his scope, shot after shot.

But they had plenty of set pieces to fall back on. Even a team notoriously poor with set pieces should find the Law on their side given enough opportunities. Right?

Let’s do a word problem

FC Dallas takes three corner kicks. One goes in (Goal: Roland Lamah, 59’). MN United FC takes thirteen corner kicks. How many of United’s corners result in goal?

This English major comes up with 4.33 goals for United on paper. On the pitch, the Loons came up with zero.

And so, despite again not allowing a goal in the first ten minutes, the Loons lost another.

But the supporters sweated it out with them. It wasn’t just any hot and humid game night. It was Pride Night and the club was celebrating one of its own.

Midfielder Collin Martin came out publicly on Friday morning, the only active pro athlete to play openly as a gay man.

In an impromptu discussion with media before the match, team owner Dr. Bill McGuire was asked if there was anything political to be inferred by the announcement.  “This is a human statement,” he replied. “Not a political one.” In subsequent interviews, Martin noted an overwhelmingly positive response.

The Loons may have lost the match, but Collin Martin (a player who didn’t even see minutes on Friday), with the club and supporters behind him, won the night.

#PrideNightEveryNight

Featured image: @MNUFC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @BCMcDowell

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Win With Pride

Kirsten Arpin - Sporting Kansas City/mlsfemale
Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

June. The month that brings us the middle of the season, the beginning of summer, and the end of school.

June also brings us something much more important…Pride.

Teams all around the country have been celebrating Pride this month to show their support for the LGBTQIA community. Not just MLS teams, but also USL teams, NWSL teams, and even the US National teams have participated. There have been tifos, scarves, t-shirts, team warm ups, fundraisers, and jerseys.

MLS may be the league that embraces the meaning and spirit of Pride more than any other American sports league. Sporting Kansas City had this to say about their Pride night:

As an organization that prides itself on creating an inclusive environment for all, Pride Night has always been an important initiative for us. If you’ve ever been to a match and sat in the Cauldron, you know that our supporters are extremely welcoming to new fans regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. Pride Night is just an extension of that and another way to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for our supporters.

I was able to talk with a couple of Cauldron members and see what Pride night meant for them:

[June 1] meant to me community, acceptance, and love for one another even with our differences and backgrounds.
Brandy Peed

Having a Pride themed game may seem like a small (or unnoticed) event for the fanbase as a whole, but it goes a long way in showing support for people that are often underrepresented in our community, soccer or otherwise. Showing support for all types of human beings is a great gesture, and one that we should be proud of. Hopefully, our show of support was inspirational for people that may feel excluded or afraid because of who they are, and  that will lead to a greater sense of community in our amazing group.
Elliot Arpin

When the National Team decided to use the rainbow numbers I read some of the Twitter and Facebook comments, and it was a really bad idea. There was so much hate and disdain there that it was almost sickening, but beyond that people were saying that the National Teams should stay out of politics and stick to soccer. But this shouldn’t have to be a political issue, it should be a humanity issue. By the USMNT and USWNT showing their support they are setting a precedent for the rest of American sports.

Keep being prideful soccer fans! Don’t let this sense of camaraderie and community end with June! Pride month should be every month. Acceptance and equality are for every month.

#PrideMonth #LoveisLove #AllAreWelcome #WeTogether

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

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