Following their boycott of a match earlier this week, Real Salt Lake are schedule to resume play this weekend. Whether or not Dell Loy Hansen will still own the franchise by then remains to be seen.
In what’s brewing up to be an eventful moment for MLS, RSL is slated to visit the Portland Timbers on Saturday night.
It’s been quite the week for RSL (2-1-3), and it has nothing to do with its play on the pitch. Salt Lake was scheduled to host Los Angeles FC on Wednesday, but that match, like four others around MLS, was boycotted in the wake of the unrest and violence following the police shooting of black 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.
While the move was supported by the team and league, Hansen was not pleased with the decision. Especially because it cost him a home match, where a limited amount of supporters would be in attendance. Digging deeper, it all may also stem from Hansen’s personal preference on the matters of race and conservatism.
During an interview with KXRK 96.3 FM, Hansen said the boycott by his players was “like somebody stabbed you and you’re trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward … The disrespect is profound to me personally.”
Hansen’s comments drew immediate criticism from just about every corner of MLS, including current and former RSL players. Some called for him to sell the team, while The Athletic added to the controversy by reporting alleged racist language Hansen has directed at and around employees.
MLS commissioner Don Garber said as part of a statement: “I strongly disagree with the comments he made (Thursday), the way they were expressed, and they do not reflect the views of MLS.”
While it’s uncertain if Hansen – who apologized in a somewhat roundabout way for his comments – will face any disciplinary action from the league, or would consider selling team (which has been entertained), Real Salt Lake looks as if it will be playing Saturday. RSL is coming off a 4-1 win at Colorado from Saturday. Maikel Chang had a goal with two assists, while Damir Kreilach, Corey Baird and Justin Meram also scored.
Salt Lake snapped a four-game losing streak to Portland with a 2-1 victory in the 2019 playoffs. Kreilach (three goals in 2020) had a goal assisted by Baird in that contest.
The Timbers (3-2-1) were slated to face San Jose on Wednesday, but also staged a mutual boycott.
“The Portland Timbers stand in support of our players and their decision not to play (Wednesday),” the club said in a statement. “Racial injustice and police brutality towards black people in our country must end now.”
After winning the “MLS is Back Tournament,” Portland returned to regular-season action on a 3-0 loss to rival Seattle last weekend. It was the first time in an official capacity that Portland was blanked this season.
When the Timbers have found the back of the net this season, Jeremy Ebobisse and Diego Valeri each have three goals.