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Landon Donovan did something good last night

October 01, 2020

You remember Landon Donovan, right? Well, you better. The man is a damn American sports hero, scoring this goal last-gasp goal against to keep the USMNT alive in the 2010 World Cup in what still to this day remains a top-five sports goosebumps moment for me. You don’t need a rink and a bunch Soviets to author miracles, folks.

Since then, Donovan has bounced around. He was frozen out of the USMNT in a messy feud with then-manager Jurgen Klinsmann. He retired, unretired, and did some punditry—the usual arc for a post-career athlete trying to find a new foothold. Now he’s the manager for the San Diego Loyal, a expansion team in the USL Championship, the second-tier of professional men’s soccer in America. It’s a pretty unremarkable gig, but one that Donovan stepped up and owned on Wednesday night, walking his team off the pitch when referees refused to produce a red card after an opposing player referred to openly gay Loyal midfielder Collin Martin as “b*tch boy.” Here’s the chaotic exchange, in which you can hear Donovan imploring the refs and his opposite number to “get this out of the game.”

After the game, Donovan spoke at length on his team’s decision to forfeit the match, not only in response to the homophobia Collin Martin experienced on Wednesday, but also in light of a racist incident involving fellow Loyal midfielder Elijah Martin last week. He’s composed, articulate, and smashes into the top corner, to use soccer parlance.

As for opposing coach Rick Schantz, who can be seen treating the exchange with all the maturity of a triggered Twitter egg, well let’s just say there’s significantly less smashing it into the top corner happening. “Come on, man, don’t make a big scene” he says as Donovan explains the situation. “How long have you been playing soccer?” he asks when Donovan brings up the slur. “It’s got nothing to do with racism!” he replies when Donovan says that “we must get this out of the game,” as if one form of hate takes precedent over another.

Suffice, we’ve seen way too many Rick Schantzes (and much, much worse) kicking around society lately. Maybe it’s time for a Landon Donovan or two to step up.