The United States got back into action with its four world championship jersey stars, and every starter except Julie Ertz and Kelley O’Hara took a knee for the anthem, while the whole team wore Black Lives Matter warm-up jackets.
The squad released a video statement in conjunction with the moment. It included their reasons for taking the mission personally as a team:
“Today, we wear Black Lives Matter to affirm human decency. We protest against racial injustice and police brutality against Black people. We protest against the racist infrastructures that do not provide equal opportunity for Black and brown people to fulfill their dreams, including playing on this team.”
Alex Morgan echoed that statement from her personal account:
And here is video of the anthem:
The statement was not exactly a surprise, given the team’s history of being unable to locate fucks to give about the U.S. Soccer Federation’s 2016 ban on kneeling, a woefully shortsighted and myopic policy that was lifted this summer. The ban was in response to Megan Rapinoe becoming one of the first athletes to join Colin Kaepernick’s original protest against police brutality.
The match was the first for the USWNT in nine months, so it was also the first since the horrific killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the protests spring and summerlong that followed. Players across the NWSL knelt and donned Black Lives Matter apparel when that league was the first to return to action during the Coronavirus pandemic.
ESPN did not show the anthem on its broadcast of the 2-0 USA win over the Netherlands, a rematch of last year’s World Cup final and the Americans’ first game in 261 days. And from the department of “hey, wanna feel old?” Sophia Smith became the first player born in the 2000s to appear for the United States.