Photo: Members of the late Sigi Schmid's family and players from his 2009 Seattle Sounders' team pose before the start of Saturday's Seattle-FC Cincinnati game. Credit: Nike Fiechtner/Sounders FC Communications.
2. USMNT beat: Morris and Arriola make cases in Week 1
March 12 is the date U.S. Soccer will release the men's national team roster for the friendlies against Ecuador March 22 and Chile March 26. That comes after only two weeks of the MLS season, so the national team staff will have only a small body of work to go on in evaluating MLS players for selection to the two games beyond what they might have shown in January game.
The consensus is that Gregg Berhalter's two starting wingers will be Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah, but neither has played much recently. In MLS's Week 1, both Jordan Morris (two goals for Seattle) and Paul Arriola (the winner for D.C. United) made strong cases for playing time on the wing.
Arriola was also excellent in the USA's 2-0 win over Costa Rica on Feb. 2. But in Morris' case, he didn't have the benefit of playing the first two games of the year as he was recovering from a knee injury that sidelined him for the entire 2018 MLS season.
3. Addressing an atmosphere of intimidation in The Bronx
MLS commissioner Don Garber criss-crossed the country, attending season openers in Los Angeles (for the Galaxy's unveiling of the David Beckham statue) and Seattle on Saturday and Washington, D.C., on Sunday.
At Sunday's D.C. United-Atlanta United game, Garber was asked by the Philadelphia Inquirer's Jonathan Tannenwald about the recent Huffington Post article on the presence of far-right and white supremacist fans in New York City FC supporters' clubs, the efforts to kick them out and and the concerns of other NYCFC fans that not enough has been done to address the issue.
Garber's response, largely condemned on social media, was the NYCFC situation "was about the view some fans have about other fans" and the job of the league and its clubs wasn't to judge or profile any fan. He said it's a "slippery slope" to engage in any kind of profiling and reiterated that the league had a zero-tolerance policy for anyone misbehaving, but he should have come out more forcibly to state the league doesn't tolerate racist, homophobic, xenophobic and sexist language or political language, signs or gestures.
The problem, though, isn't simply how some NYCFC fans "view" the white supremacist fans in their midst -- but how they feel intimidated by them.
The Huffington Post article linked to a version of MLS's fan code of conduct on the NYCFC web site that referenced prohibited behavior but included the catch-all “any behavior that impairs the safety and/or enjoyment of the event from other guests."
MLS's recently updated fan code of conduct covers misbehavior including fighting, all sorts of inappropriate language behavior, gestures and threatening behavior but the catch-all language is no longer included.
The core issue isn't that incidents of prohibited language or fighting have or haven't been addressed by NYCFC and the league but that fans feel that an atmosphere of intimidation has been allowed to fester in The Bronx.
“They don’t do anything,” one fan told the Huffington in describing how the far-right and white supremacist fans act in the supporters' section at Yankee Stadium. “They just come and stand next to you. They just look at you. What can you do? You can’t go to the club and say, ‘This guy is looking at me.’”
In the updated fan code of conduct, a look doesn't count for "inappropriate language behavior."
Photo: The LA Galaxy unveiled a statue of former star David Beckham at Dignity Health Sports Park when the club kicked off the 2019 MLS season against the Chicago Fire. Credit: LA Galaxy.