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Are There Any Black Players In The MLS?


Despite the growing interest in Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States, the NBA, baseball and the National Football League (NFL) are still popular. 

Another thing that separates the NFL and the NBA from the MLS is the number of black players involved in the sports. 

The NFL and the NBA are dominated by black players while the MLS has a lot of ground to make up. 

That said, how many black players are in the MLS?

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Who Are Some of the Prominent Black Players in the MLS?

The numbers might not be as appealing but over the years, there have been some very prominent black players in the MLS. Since Clint Dempsey made his debut in 2004 for the New England Revolution, many more have joined the league. Here are some of them.

1. Victor Wanyama

The Kenyan international joined the MLS in 2020 from English side Tottenham FC. He plays in the defensive midfield position for CF Montreal. His contract at the club runs until 2024 after he was resigned as a designated player.

Wanyama has played 80 times for CF Montreal during his initial spell at the club, scored five goals and made eight assists. He captained the team throughout the 2022 season. 

2. Kevin Molino

The Trinidad and Tobago international’s journey in the MLS started at Orlando City where he played between 2011 and 2016, playing a total of 221 games and scoring 36 times.

Molino left in 2017 and joined Minnesota United for the next three years. His impressive goal-scoring record went on as he netted 21 times in 67 games.

In 2021, he moved to Colombus Crew where he currently plays. So far, he has played 24 times, scored only 2 goals and is currently out due to injury. 

3. Kei Kamara

The Senegalese player, who moved with his family to the United States, first joined the MLS in 2006 after the Columbus Crew drafted him. He played 36 times and scored 5 goals. 

He went on and played for the San Jose Earthquakes but got less playing time, only 12 games and scored twice. He went on and played for Houston Dynamos and Sporting Kansas before he left for Norwich City on loan in 2009.

Kamara returned to the MLS in 2014 and has since played for six clubs:

  • Columbus Crew
  • New England Revolution
  • Vancouver Whitecaps FC
  • Colorado Rapids
  • Minnesota United
  • CF Montreal

He currently plays for Chicago Fires FC.

How Many Black Players Are in the MLS? 

With the rise of player activism in the wake of George Floyd’s death, racial inequalities across different sectors of the society have been pointed out and sports has been on the receiving end of some of the criticism.

Lack of opportunities and representation as well as racial discrimination against black people and people of colour has largely been pointed out. The MLS has a gaping hole when it comes to racial diversity.

According to a report published in 2021 by Statista, black players in the MLS account for just over 24%, a slight improvement from where they were in 2020 at just 21%. What does the distribution of these players in terms of their countries look like?

According to Forbes, the players come from 35 different nations and here’s what that distribution looks like.

  • 1 player: Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, DR Congo, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Martinique, Cuba, Portugal, Switzerland
  • 2 players: Venezuela, Panama, and Norway
  • 3 Players: Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria, Cameroon, Costa Rica
  • 4 Players: Peru, Germany, Ecuador, Jamaica
  • 6 players: Honduras
  • 7 players: Netherlands, Brazil
  • 8 players: England
  • 9 players: Ghana, France
  • 12 players: Colombia
  • 23 players: Canada
  • 70: United States

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Forbes went further and gave a breakdown of the number of black players in each MLS club. Take a look.

  • Fewest black players: 3 – LA Galaxy
  • Fewest Black Foreign players: 0 – FC Dallas
  • Fewset Black domestic players: 0 – Houston Dynamo, Real Salt Lake
  • Most Black players: 13 – Orlando City
  • Most Black foreign players: 10 – Orlando City
  • Most Black domestic players: 7 – FC Dalla, Toronto FC, New England Revolution

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What Is Being Done to Increase the Number of Players in the MLS? 

In 2021, black players in the MLS formed a coalition Black Players for Change to address racial inequalities. They are on a mission to talk about their experiences, debunk the myths associated with black professional athletes and increase their visibility in order to create a ripple effect in the population and encourage other black kids to join the league.

The league also formed a diversity committee that ensures that minority groups are considered for different roles on the field and off the field.

Will the number of black players in the MLS improve? Well, as its popularity continues to grow, chances are that it’ll happen. But it may take time. What do you think?

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