The night before the USA’s Copa America Centenario Quarterfinal against Ecuador, U.S. captain Michael Bradley approached the team equipment manager Jesse Bignami with an idea.
The team had already put out a video in support of the victims of the tragedy in Orlando, but with the spotlight turned on a team representing the United States, all of the United States, he felt more needed to be done.
One of the honors of being the captain is the opportunity to wear the armband, a symbol of leadership and respect. He believed strongly that on this night and this stage, the National Team needed to be leaders on an issue greater than themselves. In a tournament, each team is given identical armbands. Bradley wondered if Bignami could make the one for the match that was a little more custom.
"Obviously it's an incredibly sad week for our country, for the LGBT community," Bradley said following the game. "We all feel a big sense of responsibility every time we represent our country, and wearing a rainbow armband felt like the right way to honor that role tonight.”
U.S. Men's National Team captain Michael Bradley, wearing the custom rainbow OneNation. captain's band,
places his hand over his heart in preparation for the National Anthem ahead of
the USA's Copa America Centenario Quarterfinal showdown with Ecuador at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
The idea was one thing, but bringing it to fruition was another. A rainbow armband didn’t exist as far as they knew, so where could one be found, or in this case, made?
They first approached the Nation Women’s Soccer League’s Seattle Reign about making a heat transfer labeled with #OneNation. They could. The next call was to the kitman from Seattle Sounders FC, who had previously had a similar item made for his team. His contact was closed for the evening, but he promised to reach out first thing.
By midnight, samples of the heat transfers had been delivered to the team hotel. The question still remained of whether an armband could be made. The next morning, after consultations on size and material, STT-Sports Lettering Co. confirmed they could have one ready for pickup after noon.
After the team equipment arrived at CenturyLink Field, Bignami took off to the shop to retrieve the armband while assistant Mike Zawlocki fired up the heat press. About 20 minutes before the MNT arrived at CenturyLink Field, the unique and powerful symbol was tucked away in Bradley’s locker. Ready to be worn with pride. Ready to represent #OneNation.