Landon Donovan

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Landon Donovan to manage San Diego Loyal

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Landon Donovan will become the first manager of the San Diego Loyal.

Donovan, 37, is part of the ownership group of the USL Championship side, which kicks off its inaugural season in 2020.

Speaking to Sports Illustrated, Donovan confirmed he will manage the newly-formed Southern Californian club and he will also be the VP of soccer operations for the second-tier team.

SD Loyal will hold a press conference on Thursday to officially announce Donovan’s appointment.

The MLS and USMNT legend has retired and made comebacks multiple times in recent years but his playing days are now over and he will focus on leading the USL franchise alongside Warren Smith, who previously founded Sacramento Republic FC.

Donovan has lived in San Diego in recent years and was part of the group who wanted to bring an MLS team to the city as part of a planned Soccer City complex. After that bid failed, Donovan instead put all of his energy into the USL side and he will now be the leading man on the sidelines.

His name has plenty of pull and along with the team calling San Diego home, this team will be a very popular one to play for.

Landon Donovan’s USL club has a name and crest

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USMNT and MLS legend Landon Donovan’s new USL Championship club has a name and logo.

San Diego Loyal will be the club taking its place in the American second tier next season, orange and green a big part of its color scheme.

[ MORE: Another big day for Pulisic ]

The ocean waves on the bottom and “SD” as a sun are pretty cool, and SD hopes to follow Seattle’s rave green in putting a unique color in the soccer landscape with “Torrey Green,” named after the endangered trees of San Diego.

We’re no design whizzes, and the club’s crest explanation says the ‘y’ in local represents the California poppy, but to us is a cool marine nod to a trident (maybe their mascot could be modeled after Jason Momoa, or just straight up be Jason Momoa. We’re kidding Twitter. It’s Sunday morning).

Landon Donovan to lead new San Diego USL franchise

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Landon Donovan will be the leading man as the USL launch a new franchise in San Diego.

The owner of the team will be Warren Smith, who has been involved in minor league baseball teams and founded Sacramento Republic FC who have been one of the most successful lower-league teams in recent history and are now serious contenders to become one of the next MLS expansion franchises with their new ownership structure in place. 

Donovan, 37, will be the executive vice president of soccer operations as well as a minority investor, as San Diego will begin play at Torero Stadium at the University of San Diego in either the 2020 or 2021 season in the USL Championship, the division directly below Major League Soccer.

Speaking to Sports Illustrated about the new team, Donovan revealed why being a big part of something from scratch in San Diego is so important to him.

“San Diego is my new home. I don’t anticipate ever leaving, and I want to do something in this community around soccer that’s special,” Donovan said. “So why wouldn’t I want to do something with someone who clearly knows what they’re doing, who has a track record of success, of doing things with quality, and who’s as passionate as I am? Once I sat and thought about it and was able to let go of the disappointment of the previous two years, this was an absolute no-brainer.”

Donovan’s ties with San Diego has seen him involved in an ownership group which tried to bring an MLS franchise to the Californian city in recent years, but their SoccerCity plan failed to gain backing from local government and is pretty much done and dusted.

The MLS and USMNT legend moved to San Diego to be closer to his in-laws while he and his wife can bring up their family, and he is eager to do all he can to develop soccer in the area.

Donovan has made multiple comebacks in his playing career, most recently with Club Leon in Mexico and the San Diego Sockers of the Major Indoor Soccer League, and that came after heading back to the LA Galaxy after his first retirement in 2016.

But now it seems he is fully focused on matters off the pitch and on developing a focused, successful USL club to San Diego.

Smith’s expertise from Sacramento will be invaluable to building the club from the bottom up, while Donovan will be tasked with creating the structure of the team and everything on the pitch.

San Diego has a rich soccer culture and if TV audiences are anything to go by, there is huge potential for a USL team to gather serious momentum quickly which will turn heads at MLS HQ.

Could Bradley become all-time caps leader in 2020?

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Michael Bradley remains one of the most polarizing figures in U.S. Soccer, but he’s on the verge of completing a feat this summer only accomplished by two other legendary players before him: Landon Donovan and Cobi Jones.

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After Bradley’s start in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 1-1 draw with Chile on Tuesday, the Toronto FC holding midfielder has a total of 145 appearances in U.S. colors, stretching back to his first cap in 2006. Bradley sits just 12 caps back of Donovan (157) and 19 behind Jones (164), the all-time leader.

It’s been a remarkable career for Bradley for both club and country, maintaining an incredibly-high level of physical conditioning to always be available for the USMNT and his club. And, it’s conceivable that Bradley could pass 150 appearances by this summer.

The USMNT will play a pair of friendly matches in the run up to the 2019 Gold Cup, in which Bradley could then break the 150-mark by the third of three group stage matches. This fall, the USMNT then enters CONCACAF Nations League action, with two games in each of September and October on the schedule. As many as two games could be scheduled for November as well.

In 2020, the USMNT is expected to hold its January camp, with a pair of friendlies, before another pair at the end of March. Then, like this year, teams would get two friendly matches in June, followed by either the summer off or potentially the U.S. taking part in the 2020 Copa America.

Should Bradley remain a key member of the USMNT, as he looks so far under Berhalter, the 31-year-old could break Jones’ record of 164 caps by the summer of 2020, especially if the USMNT makes a run to the 2019 Gold Cup final and plays as many international matches as available.

The USMNT could play as many as eight games this summer, with another six games in the fall. With two in January and another two in March, Bradley could tie Jones heading into the summer international soccer season, putting a bow on what’s been a decorated, yet controversial at times career.

Donovan is fed up of being told what to do

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Landon Donovan has made a comeback in recent weeks as he now plays in the Major Arena Soccer League for the San Diego Sockers.

Donovan, 37, has retired twice from the professional game, took a lengthy sabbatical and has admitted to battling with depression and anxiety throughout most of his glittering career.

In an open, honest interview with the Guardian he opened up about why he didn’t really care about ‘making it big’ in Europe, and how winning six Major League Soccer titles with the San Jose Earthquakes and LA Galaxy more than filled the void of a lack of playing time overseas.

“I was just doing what my gut was saying, which was like, ‘Landon, you need to play soccer.’ I didn’t care about playing at Bayer Leverkusen – they were in the Champions League and all this – I didn’t give a f***, I just wanted to play soccer. So I’m glad I got out of there as quickly as I could, because I wanted to play. I needed to be happy.”

Donovan also revealed that he is done with being told what to do.

One of the greatest players the U.S. has ever produced, Donovan was the poster boy of U.S. soccer for well over a decade.

In fairness to him, he never shirked his responsibility of being a face of the game and trying to grow its popularity whenever he was asked to, but now he’s more than okay with taking a backseat.

“Since I was 16, everything was planned for me. You were told what to do, when to do it and how to do it, and that carried into my personal life, where I’d expect people I was dating to tell me where we’re going and when. That’s all I knew. So at some point I had this light – like, wait a minute, I can have my own ideas and make my own decisions. That was really powerful. … [Now] I really try hard not to just accept everything as society says it’s supposed to be.”

At times during his heyday, Donovan was a little bland in interviews and was seen as a bit of an outsider by some of his teammates.

He is a deep-thinker, no doubt, but Donovan’s recent outbursts seem healthy and let us get to know the man behind one of the best players in American soccer history.

You be you, LD.