Ben Olsen - portrait against black background - use only for special posts

DC United coach Ben Olsen: Olsen: We can't let conversations about race lose any steam

When D.C. United came together in early June to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement, the club painted the words "I Can't Breathe” in red-block lettering on Audi Field’s grass. 

The message was a tribute to George Floyd after his killing sparked nationwide protests calling for racial justice and the elimination of police brutality. For one, head coach Ben Olsen was pleasantly surprised by how many community members – players, club staff and supporters – showed their support.

“The turnout was amazing,"  Olsen said in a recent episode of The Call Up. "We ended up doing it and it took a couple of hours. That’s a lot of work, but there were so many people. And to see every race there, every age, I’m so proud of this team and it means so much to me to see that all taking place at Audi Field. It was a special day, and I’m proud of the way our club has gone about this up to this point.”

Olsen also reflected on a conversation with reserve goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr., particularly in light of the recently-announced Black Players Coalition. He’s one of a dozen board members alongside other MLS veterans, who all launched the group on Juneteenth.

“I think it’s so important for them to keep pushing this and keep making sure it’s in everyone’s face as much as possible and not to let this thing lose any steam,” Olsen said. “It’s so vital, and I think a lot of our eyes are open a little bit more and have a little bit more of an awareness, as much as we can, about what’s going on with the racism in our country and police brutality. It’s just a fascinating time and I’m very optimistic and hopeful that we’re moving in the right direction.”

For more from Olsen, check out the above clip and an in-depth piece with MLSsoccer.com national writer Charles Boehm.

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