MLS Finalists in Super Liga boycott award ceremony
In the aftermath of a hard fought contest between two bitter rivals, there were signs of unity between New England and Houston when they banded together to send the MLS Management a message of discontent.
The gauntlet had been thrown down earlier this week, when players from the Revolution and the Dynamo, announced that they would pool the first and second place prize money, and split the total evenly between all players from both teams in protest to the very small percentage (15%) of the $1,000,000 "prize" money that the players actually would receive.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber was quick to condemn the idea, stating that there would be penalties if this occurred.
Whether the players went ahead with it, or not, was not clear. It was clear, however, even before the game started, that both the Dynamo and the Revolution had other ideas as well.
Just before kick off, instead of having each team take a picture of their own starting line-up, the two teams joined together, inter-mingling the squads, for one group picture. Shouts of "UNION" and "SOLIDARITY" could be faintly heard coming from the stands as the two teams stood together, clearly united.
But the real message was delivered at the end of the game, when the two teams in congratulating each other, to a man exchanged shirts with a player from the opposing team. The two teams gathered away from the stage where the Super Liga Trophy was displayed, awaiting the victors.
In a bold move, the players and coaches of both teams decided to boycott the entire award presentation. The Dynamo players left the field applauding the fans and the opposition without picking up their second place medals. Only captain Wade Barrett and coach Dominic Kinnear picked up their medals, shaking hands with the Commissioner as they did so. Neither set foot on the stage.
Then without any announcement whatsoever, Commissioner Garber went to the stage and picked up the trophy and handed it to Revolution captain Steve Ralston, who shook his hand, and then gave the crowd a small but effective pump of the fist. Then leaving the stage he joined his teammates in front of "The Fort" in the North End of the stadium, where they celebrated with their fans, coaches, and staff. Even owners Robert and Jonathan Kraft joined in the festivities. From there they paraded the trophy around the thousands of the fans who had stayed to celebrate with the victors.
Fireworks went off. Confetti filled the sky. The Minutemen fired their muskets into the air. All over an empty stage.
At the end of the night, the players union had the last word. Today, and tomorrow, there will surely be repercussions. MLS and SUM (Soccer United Marketing, Inc.), the organizers of Super Liga, will surely be working to make sure that the players and the players union do not have the opportunity to stand down from the award ceremony in the future. However, the players and the players union will have something to say as well.