Minnesota United made a statement with a unique and politically topical pregame ceremony before its scoreless draw with Vancouver on Saturday.
Before the Loons faced the Whitecaps, five people were sworn in as naturalized U.S. citizens at Allianz Field. Judge John R. Tunheim conducted the rites on the grass pitch, with Gov. Tim Walz, Lieutenant Gov. Peggy Flanagan and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter on hand.
With U.S. immigration policy a hot-button issue under President Donald Trump, Walz said: “Diversity is our strength. Immigration brings us together. You are welcome in Minnesota.”
MLS and United have supported a community initiative called “Soccer For All” since last season. Its message says everyone is welcome regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or any other identifying characteristics. Last year, Loons midfielder Collin Martin came out as gay, becoming the only publicly gay male athlete in a major U.S. sport.