By Patrick Shea

When the players lined up for the anthem before the Desert Diamond Cup championship between the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake in Tucson last week, they mixed together like shuffled cards instead of two groups split by the officials.

“During warmups, they said that we would go every other player,” explained Rapids rookie center back Axel Sjöberg. “It wasn’t super organized, just enough to make it look good.”

Rapids rookie Axel Sjöberg is discovering the camaraderie among MLS players. Photo by John Babiak.

Rapids rookie Axel Sjöberg is discovering the camaraderie among MLS players. Photo by John Babiak.

For partisan fans of the Rapids/RSL rivalry, such fraternizing raised eyebrows, particularly considering the championship on the line and the seriousness of trailists with a final chance to show their worth and maybe land a job. At the time, less than a week remained before the first game of the MLS season, and the owners and players had not reached an agreement yet.

The deal signed through 2019 this week relieved tension, but this past week showed solidarity among MLS players.

“That was something the players decided beforehand,” Sjöberg said. “To show that we were united.”

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