Carrie Taylor is Landon Donovan’s First Assistant Coach for USL’s San Diego Loyal
Landon Donovan chose Carrie Taylor because of her talent, her abilities. “I trust her implicitly,” said Donovan. This is an interview with CT, as Carrie Taylor wants to be called, right after she left the field after the first day of training. #SDLoyal
The top female in American Men’s professional soccer, Carrie Taylor is Landon Donovan‘s first assistant coach at the San Diego Loyal, the new USL Championship team kicking off this season.
Currently, Carrie Taylor is the only female coaching in Men’s pro soccer
San Diego Loyal’s co-owner and head coach, as well as arguably America’s greatest male soccer player, Donovan, could have chosen anyone in the world to join his coaching staff. As a first-time coach, Donovan would want and deserve the best assistant.
“I picked Carrie because she was the most qualified person for the job,”Landon Donovan
“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.”
Taylor holds a USSF A license and has coached men and women’s collegiate soccer as well as run a youth soccer club as its technical director and for years taught youth soccer coaching courses for U.S. Youth Soccer alongside of Sam Snow and Ron Quinn.
Currently, the only female coach in the MLS, USL or NISA — all of the professional men’s soccer leagues in America — Taylor has broken new ground, living proof of equality long overdue.
Highly respected and a pioneer, Taylor has broken the proverbial grass ceiling.
The USL expansion team’s home opener is on March 7th and the squad is getting ready to kick off their inaugural match.
SoccerToday Interview with Carrie Taylor
Diane Scavuzzo: Congratulations — in the wonderful world of male-dominated men’s soccer, how do see your role as the first female coach in the USL Championship?
Carrie Taylor: To start with, I’m thankful for the opportunity that Landon has given to me.
First and foremost I’m a coach — and that’s how I want to be viewed.
I just happen to be of the female gender and it’s a challenge to be the first because it’s unique, it’s different. I had someone telling me the other day, “Wow, you’re really courageous.” And, I was like, “Courageous? I’m not doing anything special.”
My goal is to always give the best that I can to the players, the team and the coaching staff. I want to let my body of work — my knowledge and experience — help the team be successful.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think are your best attributes as a coach?
Carrie Taylor: Probably attention to detail. When I watch players, I try to watch the little things, like are they checking their shoulder, are they in a proper body position? Part of my job will be working with groups of players and getting them better.
The beauty of our coaching staff is we all have different strengths. Getting on the field and utilizing our collective strengths is going to make us better. Nate Miller, our other assistant coach, sees things in a different way. Landon sees things from his perspective and I add my perspective. And Matt Hall, our goalkeeper coach, also adds in his keen eye.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you see is the role of a coach? When I say that, what comes to your mind first?
Carrie Taylor: Well, our mission is to help grow players, to inspire players to be better, to help players grow. It means helping have an impact on people because it’s not just about the Xs and Os, it’s getting to know people and helping get them motivated.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think about being in San Diego?
Carrie Taylor: San Diego is a tough sports market and as you well know, San Diego is always in the top five for soccer in TV viewership. It is a city of soccer and we hope to bring excitement and provide the fans with good entertainment.
San Diego Loyal is San Diego’s team, it’s not our team.
And we want to help build a lasting legacy. We’re referring to ourselves as Team One and we hope when we’re long out of the game or gone and it is team 40, team 50, or team 60, there is a lasting legacy.
Diane Scavuzzo: That’s awesome. What advice would you want to give a woman in soccer who aspires to either be a coach or a top player?
Carrie Taylor: Believe in yourself, be confident and just be you, don’t try to be someone you’re not.
And you have to have thick skin, you have to be the hardest worker in the room and just keep fighting and keep proving yourself. And so, as long as you know your stuff, the guys will respect you.
I really thank Landon for being forward thinking and understanding that women can be coaches, and women can be the strength and conditioning coach, and women can be the athletic trainers. We all have knowledge that we can all impart to the fellas.
Diane Scavuzzo: You don’t think that there’s any reason that a guy would have a hard time taking coaching direction from a woman?
Carrie Taylor: Honestly, I think once you prove that you know what you’re talking about and you earn respect. There’s probably a lot of female players that don’t like a particular coach — or who have preconceived notions about male and female coaches. And, to be honest, this was the first time we were on the field and I was on the field coaching and giving instruction and putting balls into play and pulling guys aside.
Guys — when they’re joking around — they try to nutmeg you if you’re walking and put a ball between your legs. And that what was happening after practice today. I was like, “Oh, okay, I see you. I got you.”
The fact that they felt comfortable doing that, meant that they see me as a coach.
They’ve asked me, “Hey coach, what do you want to be called?” And, I was like, “Call me CT.”
Diane Scavuzzo: So, you want to be called CT, right?
Carrie Taylor: Yes, that’s what I was known by back in Flint, I was called CT.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the biggest challenge to get the team ready for the USL home opener?
Carrie Taylor: We call it Team One challenges, not problems.
Originally, we were planning on launching in 2021, and we’ve had to condense everything a normal franchise would do to prep into basically six months.
We have a great group of guys — 21 signed players plus some trialists in camp. Getting the guys to gel is a challenge, and we know we can make that happen. We’ve got good players and a great staff.
We are going to bust our ass to put a great squad on the field
We felt really good walking off the field today and the guys were excited to get out there, so it was good.
Diane Scavuzzo: Can you tell me the age range of San Diego Loyal’s roster?
Carrie Taylor: Sure. Our youngest guy is 19-years-old and our oldest player is 31-years old and our average age is approximately 25-years-old.
Diane Scavuzzo: Soccer in San Diego has grown dramatically with NISA’s 1904 and NPSL’s ASC San Diego. Your team is at the top of professional soccer in America’s finest city …
Carrie Taylor: The more soccer the better, that’s how we look at it. We hope that AFC’s successful, we hope that 1904s successful and we know that we will be successful. So we all fit together, in the collective of San Diego being the city of soccer. And, there’s a pathway. I think each level brings something just a little more special.
Diane Scavuzzo: Last question, what is it like to work with Landon?
Carrie Taylor: It’s really hard to describe. He’s like my brother and I think the perception that people might have is, “Oh, he’s just a figurehead, he’s not that involved. He’s the public face.”
The truth is we challenge each other to outwork each other every day and he sets his standards high. He is a very collaborative leader. Once he trusts you, he trusts you implicitly and allows people to do what they’re good at.
Landon wants to positively impact not only the soccer players but the staff. And, the hope is that if our coaching staff or players want to go to a higher level — he plays a piece in that too.
I couldn’t ask for a better person to stand next to you.
We just left the field, he and I were the last ones leaving the field — we were doing work at the field to make it better for the players. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, which I respect 1000%.
Photo Credit: SD Loyal