World Cup winner Alex Morgan hailed Landon Donovan’s San Diego Loyal side after they forfeited their match against Phoenix Rising on Wednesday following an allegation of homophobic abuse.
San Diego were leading 3-1 in the second-tier USL Championship when they left the field after it was claimed openly gay player Collin Martin had been on the receiving end of a homophobic slur, with opponents Phoenix denying the allegation.
United States women’s international Morgan, who joined Tottenham in September, spoke of her respect for Donovan’s decision.
“I have always respected Landon Donovan, as a player, as a person and the fact that he has grown that club San Diego Loyal over the past year too. It’s great to see,” Morgan said.
“But also that he’s travelling with the squad and is so outspoken about the team’s beliefs was important, especially when it came to the homophobic slur that was said on the pitch.
“I just respect them so much for deciding not to play the remainder of the game. I think that’s the right decision.
"[The team] wanted to stand up for what was right." – Landon Donovan
— San Diego Loyal (@SanDiegoLoyal) October 1, 2020
“And just looking up the video from Landon, speaking with the opposing coach, you see that there is still so much progress we have to make both in and out of the sports culture.
“But the things we see and hear today just have no place in football and it was great to see them step off the pitch because they knew that there really wasn’t a place for it.
“My heart goes out to the player that was the victim of the homophobic slur and I hope he feels like he belongs in football, and it’s great to see them back him up.”
Shouts to @landondonovan @SanDiegoLoyal for refusing to go along with racism and homophobia. This is how you confront it. See something? Say something. Period. Need more of this energy! So proud and appreciative of Landon and that organization.
— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) October 1, 2020
Morgan is set to face her own challenges this season, as she attempts to regain full fitness with her new club less than five months after becoming a mother.
The 31-year-old gave birth to her daughter Charlie on May 7, and made the switch on loan from NWSL team Orlando Pride to the Women’s Super League in September.
When asked about the difficulties of balancing motherhood and a professional career, Morgan said: “The days here are much longer (than with Orlando), like six or seven hours, so just juggling being away from her that much and kind of leaving that responsibility with my mother-in-law, and also kind of figuring out not being able to nurse Charlie and having to pump between training and our meeting or training and our gym session, it’s been quite interesting.
“The first week I felt like the days were running together and now this second week I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of it a little bit.”
On the difficulties of regaining fitness, Morgan added: “Last week was my first introduction to team training and I felt really sharp, really fit and really fast in individual training and then I get into team training and my touch is all over the place, I’m the slowest on the pitch, my quick-twitch muscles are non-existent.
“In my second week of training it has got a lot better, my speed has increased a lot – still not to a point that I’m super happy with – so I think that I just need to be really patient with myself.
“Overall I feel really good, just very sore.”