The most decorated player in the history of American soccer is now officially a member of the most successful indoor soccer franchise in American history.
Landon Donovan was introduced as the newest member of the San Diego Sockers, the Major Arena Soccer League club that has a record 14 indoor titles and is the clear frontrunner to win a 15th in 2019.
Sockers Captain Kraig Chiles has a theory on how this addition is going to impact the rest of the teams in the MASL.
“Oh I think they’re shaking in their boots a little bit,” said Chiles. “The best team in the league just got better.”
The Sockers were 10-1 before adding the man who has scored more points than anyone in the history of the United States Men’s National Team and Major League Soccer. Donovan, who turns 37 in March, says he’s not doing this as a publicity stunt or a way to prolong his already legendary professional career.
“I want to make something really clear: I’m here to win,” said Donovan on Thursday. “This is the best team in the league. They don’t need a lot but I think I can help in the locker room and on the field. I’m not here to do marketing and promotion I’m here to win soccer games.”
This is not an insignificant development. After a short stint with Club Leon of Liga MX in 2018 Donovan was ready to call it a career.
“I was mentally done, like, four years ago,” said Donovan. “It’s not like I’ve had this crazy desire to play soccer but I always try to keep an open mind.”
So when the Sockers contacted him last week asking him to play he took the idea seriously. Well, not at first.
“My first thought was maybe this is a joke of some sort,” said Donovan of that text message. “It became clear that it was a very real question.”
Donovan took the offer seriously after talking to his wife, who reminded him of a training session he had with the Sockers in Encinitas.
“She said you came home with a smile on your face that I hadn’t seen in a long time and I said OK well let’s think about it.”
It didn’t take too much deliberation. Donovan, who was so successful in Major League Soccer that the league’s Most Valuable Player Award is named after him, knew it was time to start a new professional chapter.
“I don’t play outdoor soccer anymore. It’s not appealing to me. Candidly, it’s hard on the body. It’s a lot more than I want to be doing. Indoor soccer, to me, is really fun.”
Donovan only moved to San Diego three years ago but already calls it his new home town.
“My wife is from here and we’re going to raise our children here so this is going to be my home town forever. I love it here. I want to be able to contribute something to this community and this is an opportunity to do so.”
Lifting the Ron Newman Cup as MASL champions would certainly be a way to do that. The Sockers have road games on February 7 and February 8 so Donovan expects to make his home debut on Friday, February 15 at Pechanga Arena against the Tacoma Stars.
Then we’ll get to see if this rookie everyone is talking about is any good.