Twice in the last week, the San Diego Loyal have walked off the soccer field in protest. Both times, one of their players was the recipient of a slur directed at them by the opponent. In their game against Phoenix Rising, Collin Martin was the target of an alleged homophobic slur.
"When I heard that I lost it," says Loyal Head Coach Landon Donovan. "Because I know what this team has gone through, I know how hard it was for them to even take the field."
Wednesday night's incident comes following a game last week against LA Galaxy II, when a Loyal player was called a racial slur.
"For it to happen again a week later was just devastating for me," said Donovan.
In both instances, the Loyal left the field in protest, and forfeited the game.
"Our players in the heat of the moment and the passion of the moment still wanted to play."
The two losses cost them points in the standings, and a USL playoff spot.
"Listen, when we are all on our death bed no one is going to remember if we beat Phoenix 3 to 1 at home. No one is going to remember that, but they will remember that they stood up for something they believed in, and they supported their teammate. They supported what's right."
As for the Phoenix Rising player accused of the homophobic slur, Junior Flemmings released a statement saying it was a false accusation by the Loyal, and he's very disappointed. Donovan says although his team will not be in the playoffs, he doesn't regret any of the actions his team took the last two games.
"I understand that most people watching from afar probably don't get it, but we've been living it."