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When Landon Donovan brings his team San Diego Loyal to Dignity Health Sports Park to play what will be the first preseason test for the Galaxy on March 20, it will be bittersweet to see the former captain and all-time goal leader on the opposing sideline devising ways to beat the club he helped to four MLS Cups.
The last time Donovan faced the Galaxy as an opponent was as a San Jose Earthquake on September 25, 2004, when the teams shared the points in a scoreless California Clasico and shortly before Donovan joined the Galaxy.
Donovan’s return will be poignant because although he appeared for Los Angeles 253 times over a decade and his name has become synonymous with the club, LD’s return home will be as the rival manager.
And despite mixed results on the pitch in their inaugural season, Donovan and San Diego are winning where it matters.
When one of his players, Collin Martin was verbally abused with a homophobic slur in a match against Phoenix Rising on September 30th of last year, Donovan and his team decided to forfeit the points from the match and a shot at the playoffs by walking off the field rather than play and give tacit complicity to abhorrent behavior.
That it was the second such incident Donovan’s team faced their first season is appalling.
The fact that the first incident; accusations of racial slurs being directed at a Loyal player, came in a match against Galaxy II is even worse.
The Galaxy as an organization can be commended for taking swift action and quickly cutting ties to the offending player and although Loyal lost out on their first postseason berth, they can take heart they ended the season on their terms; with their honor and integrity intact.
“I will speak. I will act,” Donovan told ESPN of the decision to walk off the field that made national headlines.
“It’s like, ‘OK, well, you can talk about it, or you can actually do it.’ So, this is what we’ve committed to, what we believe in. We have no choice.”
Now San Diego strides into this new campaign full of optimism and for their part seem eager to test themselves against the Galaxy.
See you soon! ?
— San Diego Loyal (@SanDiegoLoyal) March 5, 2021
The USL Championship side announced the preseason friendly against the five-time MLS Cup champions on their social media on March 1, almost a week before the Galaxy did the same and confirmed the match on their socials on March 5.
Although both sets of supporters will be desperate to watch their respective teams after a longer than expected off-season, both clubs have confirmed that the match will be a closed-door affair and will not be televised.
This means that G’s fans will have to wait until at least March 27th against the New England Revolution to get their first good televised look at new signings like Oniel Fisher and 28-year-old Ireland International defender Derrick Williams.
While the first opportunity fans will get to see the still-under-construction Galaxy roster in person could be the Visit Tucson Sun Cup in Arizona, which due to health and safety regulations, will be determining the extent of media and fan attendance.
But with Galaxy President Chris Klein announcing that the club has been given the green light by the California Department of Health to allow a limited number of fans in the stands by the regular-season opener, it looks like Landon won’t be the only one returning home soon.