Landon Donovan Signs with the San Diego Sockers
Landon Donovan is not one to sit still for very long. The greatest US soccer player announced that he’s coming out of retirement for the third time in his career. Yes a THIRD time. This time he’s taking his skills indoors to play for the San Diego Sockers of the Major Arena Soccer League.
Many Americans know him as the most decorated USMNT team player of all time and remember his historic stoppage time goal in the 2010 World Cup for the red, white and blue versus Algeria. If you follow Major League Soccer you know him as a six time MLS champion during his time in San Jose and Los Angeles. European supporters might remember his days on Merseyside with Everton or with Bavarian juggernauts Bayern Munich. If you support Mexico, you know him as a villain because of his penchant for always scoring against El Tri.
The average San Diegan has gotten to know him a little bit over the past year and half as a major player in the SoccerCity initiative which was trying to bring a Major League Soccer team to San Diego and develop the Mission Valley stadium site where the Padres and Chargers used to play.
We all know how that turned out. After SoccerCity took the L in the election in November, Donovan took to Twitter to pledge to the people of San Diego that he was still committed to continuing to grow soccer in San Diego. Those who are close to Donovan know that has really come to care about the city of San Diego. Maybe that has to do with the fact that his wife is from here, or that he has planted seeds here with his growing family unit, or maybe it’s because we finally need to recognize that San Diego is a hot bed for soccer and that Donovan understands that fact.
The Sockers, have a deep history here in San Diego. They have a deep forest of great players and coaches, Julie Vee, Paul Wright, Brian Quinn, Sean Bowers, Ron Newman and current icon Kraig Chiles to name very few. More importantly, they have outlasted many other sports franchises and besides the Padres, remain the only multi-decade sports team in the San Diego community. The organization has 14 championships to its name within many iterations of leagues that have come and gone. Currently the team sits in first place in the MASL at 10-1, and is striving to win a 15th championship.
The Sockers are already awesome, but Chief Marketing Officer, Craig Elsten came up with the radical idea of signing Donovan to a players contract. The executives quickly realized Elsten was on to something and that this could be a momentous win not only for an already strong franchise, but a win for the league and for San Diego sports in general. Elsten mentioned his idea to a mutual friend and text went out to Landon to fertilize the idea a bit more. The Sockers, because they were thinking outside of the box, were soon able to convince the always open-minded Donovan, that this was a win not only for him but also for the community.
When asked whether this move was made with an eye towards helping to build the culture of soccer in San Diego, Donovan’s answer was simple.
“I have spent the last year and a half plus with the SoccerCity project and I have been able to meet a lot of people along the way,” said Donovan. “I have fallen in love with the soccer community here more than I ever have anywhere else in my career including LA, where I spent 10 years. It is a tight knit group. Many of the people in the room I have come to know well and have become friends with and it’s really enjoyable for me to have the ability to continue growing soccer in this city. Whether it is indoor, outdoor, amateur, professional… it doesn’t matter. We know that this is a soccer city and people love it. So if this gets a few more people interested and continues to nourish the love of soccer in this city, then I am glad I can be a part of it. “
When asked about his role for the team, Donovan went on to state that, “The Sockers are the best team in the league and the goal is to win. If that means I play a lot or not at all or I just help in the locker room, I am excited to do that. I know what it takes to win at crucial times as I have six MLS championships. But I recognize that have a lot to learn from my teammates, and I am excited to grow my game and discover the nuances of the indoor game.”
You might love or hate soccer. You might care about growing San Diego sports and want to be a part of history. Or you might just like to enjoy a good vibe on a weekend with you and your family. No matter what your motivation, you won’t want to miss out on seeing the best male outdoor player in US history, who also happens to be the newest rookie for the Sockers.