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Crew supports MLS protests, preparing for FC Cincinnati Saturday

Columbus coaches and players discussed last night’s turn of events but are still focused on Saturday’s rivalry match.

Columbus Crew SC v New York City FC Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images

The sports world historically stopped on Wednesday in protest of the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Bucks boycotted the team’s playoff game against the Orlando Magic and the rest of the NBA followed suit shortly thereafter. Major League Soccer, the WNBA and multiple MLB teams sat out as well in an unprecedented turn of events.

Columbus Crew SC didn’t play mid-week but the team’s Saturday match against FC Cincinnati is still set to go on as planned. While the Crew intends to play, head coach Caleb Porter made it a point to discuss these matters with his players while staying focused on the task.

“I applaud the players for taking a stand,” he said on Thursday. “We spoke about it today as a team and a club and we are sad and sickened by the continued social injustices that are occurring.”

Under normal circumstances, Porter mentioned how the mentality is to “lock out the other things that might get in the way of doing our jobs,” but that has to do with criticism on the field or if there are minor issues outside the team. In cases such as this one, it is a different situation.

“You can’t lock out the things that are happening,” Porter continued. “You have to be aware of them. You have to talk about them. You need to address them. You can’t brush over them. It’s an unprecedented time.”

While the team is still focused on Saturday’s Hell is Real match at Nippert Stadium, any decision not too play will be up to the players. Porter did mention he is still a part of that process because “we are a family and we are all in this together. I told that to the group,” but like with the Bucks on Wednesday, electing not to take the field will be a team decision.

While they did not get the chance to show their support for the cause by not playing, Black & Gold players spoke in support of the protests. Defender Milton Valenzuela feels that this situation is “very important” to discuss and hopes they never happen again.

“It’s a delicate matter and it’s been discussed in the entire world for some time,” the left back said. “Our hope is that it never happens again, but unfortunately, there were other cases and a decision was made that matches wouldn’t be played.”

He added that players sitting out Wednesday’s games is “a way for us to show our support to the cause and that we don’t want things like that to happen.”

Crew midfielder Artur said that he and his team supported MLS teams not playing but the Black & Gold are still committed to getting ready for Saturday’s match.

“We’ve got to be ready for anything,” Artur said.

In addition to these statements from Valenzuela and Artur, Crew captain Jonathan Mensah tweeted out this message Thursday afternoon.

As of right now, all MLS games, including Saturday’s Hell is Real match, are scheduled to go on as planned. The NBA and NHL decided to postpone Thursday’s playoff games but will resume the playoffs at a later date.