When Landon Donovan and his players walked off the pitch in protest earlier this week, it made national headlines.
The former United States men's national team star, now the head coach of the second-division USL Championship's San Diego Loyal, led his team off the field in protest after a homophobic slur was allegedly directed at Collin Martin, an openly gay midfielder for the Loyal. Now, the soccer community is offering its support of Martin, including his former team in the nation’s capital.
Martin, a Chevy Chase. Md. native, started his MLS career with D.C. United. He was a product of the team’s youth academy and spent four seasons with the club before being traded to the expansion Minnesota United in 2017. On Thursday, D.C. United offered its support on social media.
While the USL has opened an investigation into the incident, Martin has decided not to focus on the incident itself, but rather on the response of his teammates and coaches.
“Their collective decision to walk off the field in solidarity and forfeit the match speaks volumes of their support of me and what this organization is standing up to,” Martin wrote on social media. “Ultimately, I hope this can be another example that we have a long way to go in educating ourselves and kicking hate out of our game.”
Martin’s San Diego team has been dealing with a lot lately. Just a week prior, one of his Loyal teammates was the target of a racial slur by an opponent during a game against the Los Angeles Galaxy's USL side. That accused player was ultimately released. So when Donovan confronted the referee about this latest slur during the game against Phoenix with a heated exchange at halftime, he issued an ultimatum to the opposing coach to sub out the accused player.
His team leading 3-1 at the time and still fighting for its USL playoff lives, Donovan and his players decided making a stand was more important than finishing a game.
“Our guys, to their credit, said we’re not going to stand for this,” Donovan said. “They were very clear in that moment that they were giving up all hopes of making the playoffs even though they were beating one of the best teams in the league handedly, but they said it doesn’t matter. There’s things more important in life and we have to stick up for what we believe in.”
“I have tremendous pride in this group.”