Minnesota United is preparing to play FC Dallas as scheduled on Saturday night, Aug. 29, in Frisco, Texas, but coach Adrian Heath said a final decision will be made by Loons players, the MLS Players’ Association and MLS.
MLS played one game and postponed five on Wednesday night as major pro sports leagues boycotted many games after a Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot seven times by police in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday.
MLS does not have any games scheduled for Thursday, with one match set for Friday, nine on the docket for Saturday and two more Sunday.
The Loons had a scheduled off day on Thursday and will practice in Blaine, Minn., on Friday and plan to fly to Texas on Saturday morning. The game-day travel plan is within the league’s new coronavirus pandemic protocols.
“We will prepare as normal as best we can, with the view that everything will go ahead as normal,” Heath said.
Heath said a better understanding on the game’s likelihood could come Friday, and he cited the NBA players’ decision Thursday to continue with its playoffs.
United midfielder Ethan Finlay, a member of the MLS players’ association’s executive board, supported the decision Wednesday on Twitter.
“Proud to see players using their platform and power to make change,” Finlay wrote. “Now it’s time politicians and officials to take notice and do their part.”
Loons players have adopted the Black Lives Matter mantle since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. They filmed a video of players taking a knee at Allianz Field and participated in pregame demonstrations during the MLS is Back Tournament in July and August, while doing so again before Friday’s game against Sporting Kansas City in St. Paul.
Loons midfielder Jacori Hayes wrote an essay about race relations in the wake of Floyd’s death and said in an interview with the Pioneer Press that players on the team have had an open dialog on what can be done to improve racial inequalities in the U.S.
“I know for a fact that this group speaks about all these issues all the time,” Heath said Thursday. “As I’ve said before, I’ve been really proud of how they’ve conducted themselves individually and collectively. We want like everybody to do what is right. We will be led by our players, our union, the league, MLS, and we will do whatever is necessary to help this situation. I think that is all we can do is be there for the players when needed and help and support them in every way that we can.”
Meanwhile, Forward Madison, a lower-level USL team, postponed Sunday’s home game against North Texas. Due to coronavirus restrictions, the Flamingos are playing home games in Wauwatosa, which is 45 miles from Kenosha.
Big game for Hayes
If Saturday’s game is played, it will be a big one for Hayes, who played 38 games for FC Dallas from 2017-19 before being traded to Minnesota in the offseason.
Hayes injured his left hamstring and missed Friday’s 2-1 loss to Sporting, but has returned to training this week.
“We want to give him every opportunity, but we’ll make a decision on Jacori probably (Friday) after training,” Heath said.
Hayes scored his first goal for the Loons during the MLS is Back Tournament.
Ike Opara is “no closer” to traveling with the Loons, Health said. The MLS defender of the year in 2019 has been out since the restart in July due to an undisclosed “pre-existing condition.” Opara watched Friday’s game from the stands at Allianz Field. … New defender Bakaye Dibassy was expected to arrive in Minnesota on Thursday, and the Frenchman will need to quarantine before being available to play for the Loons.