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Orlando City all-in for Earth Day with Parley kits, community cleanup

Orlando City's Yoshimar Yotún shows off the Lions' new Adidas jerseys featuring technical yarns made using Parley Ocean Plastic. The Lions will wear them during their match against San Jose Saturday to mark Earth Day. (Courtesy of Orlando City SC)

For the first time this season, when Orlando City’s players take the pitch at home, there won’t be a shred of purple to be found on their kits.

In fact, all of Major League Soccer will have a muted color palette for the weekend’s matches.  For Week 8, MLS clubs will wear their Adidas Parley kits – uniforms made from Parley Ocean Plastic – in honor of Earth Day on Sunday.

The Parley Kits are black and white with club crests in grayscale. They’re made from recycled ocean materials. Fittingly, “For the Oceans” is printed inside the neck of the kits.

Orlando City’s Parley jersey for Saturday’s match against San Jose is dark gray, while the Earthquakes will wear white.

Lions midfielder Will Johnson said Saturday’s match is about more than just a chance to wear a “cool jersey,” though he is a fan of the feel of the Parley jerseys.

“I think it’s amazing that you can turn plastic bottles into jerseys and they feel really, really nice,” he said. “As nice as the normal ones that are not made of plastic bottles. I think it’s huge for the environment. Hopefully we can teach people and everybody gets on board to understand Earth Day and Earth Month and that we need to protect the planet and that there is such a thing as global warming.

“We’re doing it for a reason. That’s because days like this are wonderful and we want to keep them around for generations.”

Orlando City SC is also organizing a few initiatives to commemorate Earth Day. There’s a Parramore community cleanup from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. on Saturday. Orlando City administrators are also encouraging fans to hit the Parramore Farmers Market at Orlando City Stadium from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Finally, fans have been invited to “recycle” non-Orlando City sports apparel at The Den and enter to win a signed Parley jersey. The store will accepted recycled apparel from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.

“It’s a great initiative,” said midfielder Cristian Higuita through a translator. “It’s a great example for everyone to take care of the environment and to help the world. I’m very happy and very proud to be a part of it.”

Johnson said it’s important for athletes to be a part of the Earth Day discussion despite a charged political climate where those who play professional sports have been told to stick to their jobs.

“No matter where you’re from or what you’re about, we’ve got one planet here,” he said. “At least that’s what I believe. Maybe there’s something else out there, but for right now, we’ve got this one. We’ve got to treat it well.

“As adults, I think we’ve oftentimes let the younger generations down in terms of that kind of stuff. I think as long as we set the right example and the right tone about recycling and clean energy and all that stuff, I do think it’s very important.”

Johnson said more athletes are speaking up about issues that are important to them.

“Obviously, we’re just talking about the environment this weekend, but I don’t think any of our guys are going to shy away from that,” he said. “We’re all proud to wear those jerseys and do everything we can inside our training ground to be green.”

Coach Jason Kreis agreed with his veteran midfielder. 

“I would kind of go a little bit further to say that in this day and age, where it seems like we all seem to be going our own way and seem to be so incohesive in our community right now, anything that we can do to support each other and support the world as one, I think that’s an important thing to be a part of,” he said. 

Player updates

Right backs RJ Allen and Scott Sutter (lower body injuries) are day-to-day and were not at Tuesday’s training session. Center back and team captain Jonathan Spector (concussion protocol) was not at Tuesday’s session, either. 

Kreis would not rule Spector out for Saturday’s match against the Earthquakes, but said it’s unlikely the center back will play. Chris Schuler has also been training to the side. leaving the Lions with two healthy center backs — Amro Tarek and Lamine Sané. 

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