Head Coach of the USL’s San Diego Loyal, Landon Donovan on The Drive To Win for San Diego
Part 3 – The story of a famous player turned coach is always interesting but Landon Donovan brings a special and unique quality to coaching — a depth of commitment to his players’ success — that is sincerely ingrained.
The Role of a Coach Series: Behind the Scenes with Landon Donovan
One of the best U.S. soccer players in history, Landon Donovan now embraces the role of head coach for his team, the San Diego Loyal. The team begins to play in March 2020 at Torero Stadium on the University of San Diego campus.
Don’t Miss The San Diego Loyal SC Home Opener vs. Las Vegas Lights FC is on March 7, 2020.
SoccerToday Interview with Landon Donovan on Pressure To Win, Racism, and Women in Soccer
Diane Scavuzzo: As the head coach of San Diego’s USL Championship team, San Diego Loyal, do you feel the pressure to win?
Landon Donovan: I do not feel a pressure to win personally — at all. This goes back to my mission to positively impact and inspire people. You can do this without winning.
I do feel the pressure to win for the people of San Diego who have been waiting so long for this
I also feel pressure because I want the players to succeed. I really want them to do well. And, I do feel pressure because it’s someone else’s money, right, who’s investing in this?
So this is where the pressure comes in for me. I want to do things the right way.
I know the results will come if we do things the right way, and that’s what I’m focusing on.
Diane Scavuzzo: What would you want to say to all of the youth clubs in San Diego, if you could?
Landon Donovan: I think one of the biggest disconnects still in American soccer in with youth clubs and the respective professional teams in their area. I think its an education problem — I think we still don’t watch soccer.
Every girl or boy who plays soccer in this town should absolutely be seeing what soccer looks like at this level. We just have to be better at connecting in a meaningful way — so that people want to come to our games. It’s going to be an incredible experience at USD.
Coming to a game will be a great learning opportunity for young soccer players.
Diane Scavuzzo: You made a groundbreaking choice to bring a woman on your coaching staff. Why did you pick Carrie Taylor?
Landon Donovan: I picked Carrie because she was the most qualified person for the job. She has proven herself over, and over, and over, and over in lots of different ways. Every task that’s been asked of her, she’s passed with flying colors.
The real question is Why are there few women coaching men’s soccer?
To me, it’s pretty simple. There’s a conscious or unconscious bias towards men in sports and …
women aren’t given an opportunity.
We could sit here for three hours and rattle off all the men who have been given chances to be assistant coaches or head coaches who were fired because they did not get the done the job. But we can count on one hand how many women have been given that opportunity.
So if that many men are failing, why are we not giving women opportunities, too? It doesn’t make sense to me.
Again, you don’t hire someone because of their sex or race, or their gender or their race, or anything else. But if you have someone highly qualified like Carrie, then it’s a no brainer. Why wouldn’t we hire her?
Diane Scavuzzo: You mentioned race … there have been several high-profile racist incidents in European soccer and ABC News has called racism in soccer an epidemic. How do you believe racism should be handled?
Landon Donovan: Obviously, every situation is different. And, unfortunately, anyway, we want to slice it, we are still a very racist society. The world is racist — that’s just the reality.
Racism is not a soccer problem. This is a societal problem.
We can try to punish people for being racist, but there are deeper issues that have been hidden for a long, long time and that people have been quiet about. The question is how do we prevent racism in the first place. Right? That’s a big, deep conversation.
I personally have absolutely zero tolerance for racism.
But instead of punishing people in a harsh way, I’d rather educate people and help people learn why racism is not appropriate and why we shouldn’t treat people differently because of race.
When you travel, you become more sensitive to how other people live and other ways of life.
I’ve always loved that about soccer.
Diane Scavuzzo: On a final note, what is the greatest challenge for your team as we countdown to the home opener?
Landon Donovan: I’m excited. It’s going to be so much fun. The greatest challenge is getting the team ready in time to compete at that level. Right?
Getting them to gel is the hardest part. But I’m confident we’ll do that and I think on March 7th the stadium’s going to be rocking, the team’s going to excited, the fans will be excited, and I think it’s going to be an awesome, awesome environment.
Tickets can be purchased by calling (858) 465-GOAL or at sdloyal.com/tickets.
Photo Credit: SD Loyal