After Minnesota United midfielder Collin Martin made his announcement publicly that he is gay Friday morning at 10 a.m., the Loons had a MLS game against FC Dallas that evening.
Martin, who had played in eight total games with 5 starts this season prior to Friday, including five of the past eight, did not start the game and never left the bench in the 1-0 loss on Pride Night.
Should the the midfielder, including the context of his recent performance and his announcement, have played? Let's look at some points:
First, United has lost four of its past five games between MLS and the U.S. Open Cup, and opponents have shut the Loons out in three of those. That, combined with injury issues, forced coach Adrian Heath into an unusually defensive 3-5-2 formation.
Collen Warner started instead of Martin in the midfield, alongside usual starters Ibson and Rasmus Schuller when Heath is in his preferred 4-2-3-1. Teammates like Michael Boxall had praised Warner recently as well as after the Dallas game for controlling the pace in the midfield. Warner has played in seven games with five starts in all competitions this year, including starting the past four.
After United went down a goal in the 59th minute, Heath made three substitutions. Forward Mason Toye came on for center back Wyatt Omsberg in the 65th minute, right back Carter Manley came on for right back Tyrone Mears in the 77th minute, and winger Frantz Pangop came on for injured midfielder Rasmus Schuller also in the 77th minute.
Heath said Sunday after practice that the reason he chose Pangop instead of Martin, who would have been a like-for-like change with Schuller, was purely tactical.
"I just wanted a more offensive player on the field," Heath said. "I felt that we needed to score a goal, and I think Frantz is more dangerous in the final third than Collin. That’s just the nature of their positions and the way that they play. And I just felt that we needed an extra forward to try and take the game to them. We virtually finished the game 4-2-4., and as I said, we were the most likely [to score]. I think the fact that they made three substitutions and were all defensive ... speaks volumes."
Pangop has played in five games this year, usually as a late attacking sub. All of Heath's subs on Friday had attacking ability.
Martin said after the game the day was "crazy" and "overwhelming" but "in a good way." After posting his statement on social media Friday and fielding thousands of comments, he also sat down the TV reporters from NBC Nightly News and local station Kare 11 for interviews on the field of TCF Bank Stadium in the afternoon ahead of the game. The outpouring of interest "shocked" Martin so much, he said he couldn't manage his usual game-day nap. But he said that definitely didn't play a factor in him not playing.
Martin also did a sideline interview just before kickoff during the TV broadcast and also presented United's L'Etoile du Nord community award on the field at halftime, in which players usually don't take part.
"I did [want to play,] but I want to play every game. So that’s normal," Martin said. "I think maybe [Heath] thought I had a lot going on today. But no, obviously, I wanted to play. But most importantly, I just wanted us to win. So that’s disappointing."
Other notes from practice Sunday at the National Sports Center:
Left back Marc Burch took part in practice for the first time since having surgery on a meniscus injury in early May. Heath had termed it then as possibly season-ending. Burch played 15 games with 14 starts last season before sports hernia surgery in June ended his run. He played in four games with three starts this season before this injury.
"He's probably a week to 10 days away from being available," Heath said. "He's come on in the last couple weeks a lot quicker than we thought."
Schuller, who left the Dallas game as a precaution with thigh tightness, was back training in a light session with the other starters from Friday. Heath said outside back Eric Miller will be back from his hamstring injury in time for 6 p.m. Wednesday against Toronto FC at TCF Bank Stadium. Outside back Jerome Thiesson is still another two to three weeks away with his calf/Achilles injury, Heath said. Forward Abu Danladi also continues to be out with his leg injury.