Editorial: My thoughts on USL HQ’s poor decision and the reaction that followed

Let’s start here…USL HQ made a tone-deaf, stupid decision in giving Phoenix Rising FC the opportunity to potentially host the 2020 USL Cup Final. Phoenix hosting the match, based on three points they received from the San Diego Loyal SC forfeit, contradicts your public stances against homophobia and hate speech on the league’s biggest stage. As was mentioned in my discussions with the USLBPA, statements are all fine and good, but they don’t mean much when there’s no action being taken or changes being made.

I’m not trying to hear that “by the rules, there’s nothing that can be done” nonsense. The league office can absolutely choose to work around that rule to do what’s right. Last time I checked in 2019 and the years prior, the USL Championship regular season wasn’t a group competition with the top two clubs advancing to the postseason. Oh, you made an adjustment this season to fit unique circumstances? I hear that…do you know what else is a unique circumstance in addition to COVID-19? San Diego Loyal SC forfeiting a match due to one of their players being called a homophobic slur.

There is still an opportunity to correct this. Admit you had a lapse in judgment and reverse course before or after this weekend’s playoff action. We won’t forget that you made the wrong decision initially, but there will at least be some redemption that you made the right one in the end.

To the Phoenix Rising FC supporters, nobody that’s rational blames you for this decision by the USL. Would we love to see your beloved club step up and do what’s right if the league didn’t/won’t? Sure. But, we don’t blame the supporters of the team for that happening or not.

I understand how much you love your team and don’t expect you to stop being fans. I also understand that there are a lot of you that are allies to the LGBTQ community and do great things for other social justice causes. Shoot, I personally know some great people in and around that organization. When I say I don’t want the club to host the final, it’s not to condemn everyone associated with Phoenix Rising FC. With that said, I am extremely disappointed in your defiant rhetoric on social media in response to people criticizing the decision and the way in which Rising FC found itself in this position.

A few things that I feel need to be addressed here to the Rising FC fan base getting wild on Twitter…

  • Don’t accuse The Athletic‘s Jeff Rueter of having “an agenda’ or anything of that sort just because he’s unhappy about this decision. He feels the same way A LOT of people, myself included, feel about this circumstance and made HIS opinion known via HIS Twitter account. Do you feel that I have an agenda because I feel the same way or is it just because of an aspect of Jeff’s personal life that you come to that conclusion? If it’s the latter, you should be ashamed of yourself. If it’s the former, I’m @CarsonAMerk on Twitter and would love to have you explain that to me.
  • Also, to be completely candid with you, I don’t give a damn if you think you were going to come back and win that match vs. San Diego. It’s irrelevant. Why? Because you didn’t. The match ended at the half because a noble club in Loyal SC thought it was more important to make a stand after a Rising FC player used a homophobic slur and the Rising FC manager failed to handle the situation correctly than it was to finish the match.
  • No, it’s not punishing you to not have Phoenix host the match. Do you truly believe in your heart that you deserve that honor courtesy of three points your club didn’t earn on the pitch? I’m not going to make Louisville City FC and its supporters the victims here, but they earned all of their 35 points.

Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.