When San Diego Loyal SC takes the pitch for its inaugural season in 2020, one of the best American soccer players of all time will be on the touchline.
The USL Championship expansion side announced Thursday that Landon Donovan will be its first manager in club history. Donovan, 37, is also a co-founder of the club and will serve as its Executive Vice President for Soccer Operations.
This will be his first stint as the head coach of a professional team. Donovan is currently finishing his U.S. soccer coaching license.
“I am truly honored to be named the first manager in San Diego Loyal history,” Donovan said in a statement. “This is the right place, at the right time, with the right people for me to begin my managerial career. I am extremely grateful to the locals and all of our amazing fans for putting their faith in me to help build a club that is authentically San Diegan. Together, we will put forward a product that all of San Diego can be proud of and that will bring smiles to countless faces.”
Donovan is a National Soccer Hall of Famer and his 57 goals are tied for first all-time in a U.S. men’s national team uniform. He played in three World Cups and helped the U.S. win four Concacaf Gold Cup titles.
The California native played in Germany’s Bundesliga, the English Premier League and in Mexico’s Liga MX, but his playing career is perhaps best known for his accomplishments in Major League Soccer. Donovan won six MLS Cups in his time as a player, is the league’s all-time leader in assists, won the Golden Boot in 2008 and was named to the league’s Best XI seven times. He is second all-time, only to Chris Wondolowski, in goals scored in MLS.
“There are no names more synonymous with men’s soccer in the U.S. than Landon Donovan,” Loyal SC Chairman Andrew Vassiliadis said in a statement. “Landon’s talent and knowledge of the game goes beyond just his skills as a player; during all those years he was a student of the sport and developed relationships within the industry that will be vital to us as we launch our club and assemble its first roster. We are honored to have him lead our technical side, both on and off the pitch.”
Donovan assembled a diverse staff to support the club’s players. Among the technical advisers will be Shannon MacMillan, who helped the U.S. women’s national team win the 1999 World Cup and the 2000 Olympic Gold. Former Sacramento Republic FC coach Paul Buckle will also be a technical adviser.
Carrie Taylor, who played at Michigan and coached in the now-dormant USL W-League, will be an assistant coach too. According to the league, Taylor will be the first woman to be an assistant coach in the USL Championship. She holds a USSF A-License.
According to a release from the club, the job of Assistant Head Coach remains open.
The USL Championship awarded San Diego an expansion team in June. The club will host tryouts in December, then begin training camp in January.