GOAL - Ryan Tolmich
Former U.S. men's national team head coach and current New England Revolution boss Bruce Arena says that he finds it "inappropriate" to play the Star-Spangled Banner before club soccer matches amid ongoing debate on the anthem's place in sports.
The national anthem has become a talking point in the wake of ongoing protests across the U.S. following the death of George Floyd.
Those protests have called back to those led by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who caused controversy when he opted to kneel during the national anthem in an effort to protest racism and police brutality.
After U.S. women's national team star Megan Rapinoe joined Kaepernick's protests by kneeling before several matches, U.S. Soccer put a policy in place to prevent displays during the national anthem.
That policy has since been repealed, much to the frustration of U.S. President Donald Trump, who said he would no longer be watching games if players were to kneel.
Former USMNT boss Arena, who managed the national team from 1998 to 2006 and then again from 2016 to 2017, says he sees no reason to play the national anthem before sporting events in the first place.
"I think it puts people in awkward positions," Arena told ESPN. "We don't use national anthem in movie theatres or on Broadway, or for other events in the United States.
"I don't think it is appropriate to have a national anthem before a baseball game or an MLS game. Having said that I want it understood that I am very patriotic, but I think it is inappropriate."
He added: "Think about it. In MLS, most of the players that are standing on the field during the national anthem are international players. They are not even Americans. So why are we playing the national anthem? With all due respect, I live in the greatest country in the world but I think it is inappropriate."
MLS has a total of 722 players on rosters this season, with 422 of those players not born in the United States.
The league is set to return on July 8 for the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, making it the first men's sports league to return in the United States.