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Sounders, Earthquakes hold Black Lives Matter display

The Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes participated in a brief Black Lives Matter display before the start of Friday night's MLS is Back Tournament game at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla.

Players and coaches from both teams wore Black Lives Matters T-shirts, with the team captains featuring the letters BLM on their armbands.

Players from both teams knelt before the opening kickoff, extending an arm in the air in support.

The display continues the theme of social justice in the league's return to action after play was halted in March by the coronavirus pandemic.

Prior to Wednesday's initial tournament game between Orlando City SC and Inter Miami FC, more than 100 Black MLS players stood on the pitch in silence for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, with raised fists, while the starters from both teams knelt in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The length of time coincided with how long a Minneapolis police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man who died in the incident.

--Field Level Media

Orlando City sign F Akindele to extension

Orlando City SC forward Tesho Akindele agreed Friday to a contract extension through 2021 that includes options for 2022 and 2023.

"We are very excited to have Tesho continue with us in Orlando," executive vice president of soccer operations Luis Muzzi said in a statement. "He has shown true leadership both on and off the field since his arrival, as well as an innate goal-scoring ability. Tesho is a very important piece on our roster and a role model for our youth. We look forward to seeing his continued involvement with the growth of all aspects of our Club."

Orlando City acquired Akindele from FC Dallas ahead of the 2019 MLS season. He went on to set a career high with 10 goals in 28 games last season.

The 28-year-old veteran has 34 goals and 10 assists in 164 games with Dallas and Orlando City. He was the MLS Rookie of the Year in 2014.

--Field Level Media

Ex-MLS coach Marsch eyeing another role

Jesse Marsch is enjoying success as a head coach in Europe, but there is one position that could lure him back to the United States: coach of the U.S. Men's National Team.

"It's a hard one," Marsch, 46, told Bleacher Report. "I try not to look too much into the future and I try just to enjoy the moment, but I would be honored and I'm very hopeful to someday coach the national team."

Marsch previously coached in the MLS with the Montreal Impact and New York Red Bulls, winning the Supporters' Shield with New York in 2015. He became an assistant coach in Europe in 2018, then led FC Salzburg to the Austrian Bundesliga and Austrian Cup championships in the past few months. He was named Bundesliga League Coach of the Year last week.

Still, with two USMNT caps as a player and after serving as an assistant coach at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, being the head coach of the team is on his mind.

Gregg Berhalter has held the position since December 2018.

The United States will be a co-host of the North American-based 2026 World Cup, with games to be played in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

"Coaching a national team for anyone is a big honor, but coaching the US national team would be incredible," Marsch, a Wisconsin native, said. "I was an assistant there in 2010. Coaching at the World Cup at home would be an incredible experience."

--Field Level Media


Confident Sounders eager to open tourney play

Reigning MLS champion Seattle is finally getting back to the business of defending their 2019 hardware as the Sounders open play in the MLS is Back Tournament on Friday.

Nicolas Lodeiro is over the hamstring tendinitis that limited him earlier this season and Seattle feels it might be at full strength for the first time in months.

"I still feel like there's a target on our back because we're the previous champions and rightfully so, I think," midfielder Cristian Roldan said. "The one thing that's probably up in the air, is whoever wins this tournament, they're in a weird space, it's a tournament in the middle of our season that is still up in the air. So who knows then that time comes, but we certainly feel like we're the defending champions and we have a target on our back so we're going to have to be prepared to get everybody's best game."

Seattle begin tournament play Friday against the San Jose Earthquakes.

"Guys are ready, Nico's ready, and I think the team is ready to have these games start," coach Brian Schmetzer said. "I think that will help keep them from thinking about the monotony of being in a bubble and not being able to do perhaps as many things as they're accustomed to. So I think the game coming up on Friday certainly is going to make the team feel a little better mentally."

--Field Level Media

Nashville exits tourney, MLS alters group format

Major League Soccer announced Thursday an updated format and schedule for the MLS is Back Tournament after expansion Nashville SC became the second team to withdraw from the event.

MLS reconfigured the six groups into four teams apiece as a result of the respective withdrawals of FC Dallas and Nashville due to a number of positive coronavirus tests.

Chicago Fire FC have moved from Group A to Group B, joining the San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The Fire will face the Sounders on Tuesday morning, the Earthquakes five nights later and the Whitecaps on July 23.

The MLS also altered another match, pitting the Sounders versus the Whitecaps on July 19.

Nashville had nine players test positive for COVID-19 since arriving in Florida.

"We have withdrawn Nashville SC from the MLS is Back Tournament. Due to the number of positive tests, the club has been unable to train since arriving in Orlando and would not be able to play matches," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. "For every decision we make in our return to play, the wellbeing of our players, staff, officials and all participants is our top priority."

Nashville was scheduled to face the Chicago Fire late Wednesday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, but that game was postponed one day earlier.

"I don't think it will surprise anybody to know that as well as us they were all devastated to have to withdraw from the tournament," Nashville CEO Ian Ayre said of the reaction of his team's players on Thursday. "Unfortunately it was a medical and a timing issue that had us withdraw.

"The players were 100 percent committed right to the end. Devastated to hear the bad news. It will be a low point for a few days I'm sure, and our job and (head coach) Gary (Smith's) job and everybody else involved is deal with it, dust ourselves off, pick ourselves up and move on.

Quakes' Hoesen says he received racist message over social media

San Jose Earthquakes forward Danny Hoesen said he recently received a racist message over social media.

"A few days back I even received myself on Instagram a racist message," Hoesen, who is biracial, said on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. "And I was able to share that with the team, without going into details.

"Even guys that are not of color and lived in this country for long, they even apologized and said that 'We had no idea this was going on, and what these guys are going through.' So I think it's good that everybody starts to stick together and address the problem."

Hoesen's father is Moroccan and mother is Dutch. He played previously in the Netherlands, England, Finland and Greece before joining the Earthquakes in 2017.

"It's not that racism is only in America; it's in Europe, it's in Asia, it's everywhere. And so from that perspective, I'm not surprised," Hoesen said. "My opinion, it didn't change much. I'm just very curious how the country is going to handle it, how the president is going to handle it. People start to see that it's time for a change and that's going to be very interesting in the next couple of months."

Hoesen, 29, has recorded 22 goals and 12 assists in 98 career matches with Earthquakes.

--Field Level Media

Nashville exits tourney, MLS alters group format

Major League Soccer announced Thursday an updated format and schedule for the MLS is Back Tournament after Nashville SC became the second team to withdraw from the event.

MLS reconfigured the six groups into four teams apiece as a result of the respective withdrawals of FC Dallas and Nashville due to a number of positive coronavirus tests.

Chicago Fire FC have moved from Group A to Group B, joining the San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The Fire will face the Sounders on Tuesday morning, the Earthquakes five nights later and the Whitecaps on July 23.

The MLS also altered another match, pitting the Sounders versus the Whitecaps on July 19.

Nashville had nine players test positive for COVID-19 since arriving in Florida.

"We have withdrawn Nashville SC from the MLS is Back Tournament. Due to the number of positive tests, the club has been unable to train since arriving in Orlando and would not be able to play matches," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. "For every decision we make in our return to play, the wellbeing of our players, staff, officials and all participants is our top priority."

Nashville was scheduled to face the Chicago Fire late Wednesday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, but that game was postponed.

FC Dallas was forced to pull out of the tournament on Monday after 10 players and one member of the staff tested positive for COVID-19.

--Field Level Media

Sounders, Earthquakes excited to return to field

With three MLS Cup appearances in the past four years, including two titles, the defending champion Seattle Sounders are among the favorites for the MLS is Back Tournament.

Quakes' Hoesen says he received racist message over social media

San Jose Earthquakes forward Danny Hoesen said he recently received a racist message over social media.

Nashville exits tourney, MLS alters group format

Major League Soccer announced Thursday an updated format and schedule for the MLS is Back Tournament after Nashville SC became the second team to withdraw from the event.

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