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Landon Donovan getting itch to return to game as coach

Landon Donovan 2015 Chipotle Homegrown Game 64

Landon Donovan has no real interest in returning to the game as a player.

Coming back as a head coach is a whole different story.

It has almost been a year since Donovan decided to hang up his cleats, but his love for soccer could see him make his way back to the field in a coaching capacity. Donovan, 33, has found himself wanting to manage a team in recent weeks, and already had discussions with his agent and wife about it.

“I’m not sure what that means and at what level, but I’ve started to get that itch,” Donovan told “I think what it evolves from is being able to help, and being able to improve the game in a way. What all of us want to do when we get out of the game is we want to have the ability to go back and make an impact and help others. I didn’t have anybody at 16, 17, 18, 19 that was telling me what to do or how to react or how to act in certain situations, and I wish I would have had that.

“Having been through these experiences when you’re on the outside usually you can see it a lot more clearly than when you’re in it, and I want to have the ability to impact people in that way and to affect change in a positive way. I think I have a lot to give in that way, so I’m going to start considering that path a lot more seriously and see where it ends up.”

Donovan has already dabbled in coaching. He led the 2015 MLS Homegrown Team during the All-Star festivities in July, and admittedly had a lot of fun coaching some of the league’s most promising youngsters in a penalty-kick loss to Club America’s Under-20 side.

Prior to that, Donovan spent time with the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team at the World Cup in New Zealand in an unspecified role in late May and early June.

The five-time MLS Cup champion and U.S. legend said before retiring that he was interested in grooming young prospects after his playing career. Donovan also stated that he did not want to coach adults because of the egos and personalities that tend to exist at the pro level, but his stance on that has since changed.

“Before I thought I wouldn’t want to be a coach of grown men, but now that I’ve been out of it for a while, I see it differently,” said Donovan. “I think when you’re in it it’s easy to want to get out of it quickly and remove yourself because it was such a huge part of my life for so long that I needed time to step back and get away from it. But now I would consider it.

“It would obviously have to be the right scenario, and there’s a lot of work that would need to be done before I would be ready for that. But I think my experiences have taught me a lot, and I think I’d be able to surround myself with the right people to be successful, so we’ll see what happens.”

What do you think about Donovan getting the itch to coach? Think he would be better suited to coach at the club or international level? Are his characteristics better suited for a different role? Is Donovan just secretly hoping to be replace Klinsmann before the 2018 World Cup as payback for what happened last year?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. He should definitely coach that way he can blame his players when he loses and then gets fired. Can’t wait to see him bounce around before eventually giving up

  2. “Is Donovan just secretly hoping to be replace Klinsmann before the 2018 World Cup as payback or what happened last year?”

    This might be the most ridiculous question I’ve ever seen asked on SBI – by a staff or poster.


  4. Not sure why Donovan would want to coach. All that pressure. They all get fired. It would tarnish his legacy. He could just do spot gigs as an announcer forever. So much easier.

    As far as taking over the national team? Not a chance. Not only would Donovan probably be the first to say “uh, this gig’s a little to important to hand to some guy who’s never coached,” but it would be tantamount to Gulati admitting “I really screwed up the National program with this whole Klinsmann disaster.” Gulati might some day be willing to fire Klinsmann – MAYBE – but I highly doubt he’d be willing to fire himself.

    You know who would be an excellent candidate for the US senior team gig? How about Oscar Pareja? Dude can flat out coach. Look what he did in his one year at Colorado, and where he’s brought Dallas in a year. I freaking HATE FC Dallas, but that team can play.

    • I’m sure Germany is glad Franz Beckenbauer didn’t say, “Uh, this gig’s a little to important to hand to some guy who’s never coached,” and let’s face it, Germany is a bigger coaching gig than USMNT.

  5. The biggest stars in most sports, tend not to be the best coaches. It seems its more the role player or bench players that succeed. Men or women that had to really work hard and scrap more than rely on natural ability. Don’t get me wrong superstars still have to work hard, they just seem to have a hard time explaining things that came naturally to them. Its similar too the smartest academics generally go into research because they are terrible professors. For example Joachim Low solid professional no NT team caps great manager, Jurgon Klinsman all-time great for Germany, struggles with basic coaching decisions at times. Jurgen Klopp same thing, average career, high praise as manager, Maradona, all-time great, terrible manager. Pep Guardiola, good player better manager. Isaiah Thomas and Magic Johnson tremendous basketball players, not good coaches, Mike Krzyzewski starting point guard for Army, greatest college coach of all-time.

    • Not to split hairs, but since we’re talking sports: John Wooden won 10 championships in 12 seasons and had four undefeated seasons, too. I think you’d find a fair amount of people that would call Wooden the greatest college coach of all-time.

  6. I feel like Donovan would be a great assistant coach. Handle the coach to player business well, has a clear understanding of the game so is good for tactics, and would be great at working with the younger guys coming into any team.

  7. i would love for landon to be working with academy or reserve or USL teams. let him teach young players how to see the game and be creative. some place where there is less focus on results. would be an amazing resource for up and coming talents

    • This would be ideal for LD. I remember reading something where Dennis Bergkamp went back to Ajax, started as the U-10 coach, and then worked his way up. What a great way to teach youth the value of first touch by having LD as your coach. I think LD could have great value to the US setup by working with the younger teams and explaining what it takes to be a professional player.

  8. Slow/Hell
    Landon (or any other former coach) are a long way away from being coach of the National team. It takes a long, long time to learn how to coach at a high level.

    US Soccer preaches from the book “Outliers” which says you need 10,000 in a certain area to become an expert in a certain area. They preach this then they hire a former player with about 50 hours expereience so I can see anything happening.
    It only takes someone to convince Sunil because he (and a close inner circle) make all soccer development decisions in this country.

  9. I highly doubt Donovan secretly hopes to replace Klinsman… There are too many better options for Donovan to even consider it.

    As far as coaching, I think he should give it a try. I’m not sure if he would be good or not, but only way to find out is for him to try things.

    Also, he should definitely explore something inside the U.S. as opposed to finding something at the international level. It would be easier for him mentally if he stayed in the U.S.. There is no reason to go international if he’s only thinking about giving coaching a shot.


      • Sorry, I wasn’t clear in what I wrote.

        What I meant to say is, there are many other Coaches who are better qualified to coach the USMNT, and Donovan knows this. So for this reason. which I’m sure Donovan already knows, I highly doubt this is something Donovan is considering.

      • Donovan could potentially be a USMNT coach down the road. First, let’s see him prove that he’s good at coaching. More realistically, maybe he could work as an assistant with LAG under Bruce and potentially take over that job in a few years.

      • I take a different view. Coaching in a club is not the same as coaching a national team. A club is a more complex set of daily problems, and requires someone who can instill a sophisticated set of tactics. A national team is just an all-star team. I’m not saying that Donovan should necessarily be named head coach immediately, and in all honesty there are former players I would try ahead of him, but it’s not a ridiculous notion for a former player to cut his teeth on his nation’s all-star team and then move into a club setting. That’s what Germany did with Beckenbauer and Klinsmann.

  10. I think this is potentially a good thing. I said potentially. One other area that we need improvement on is developing coaches, particularly former high level players. I have seen some do very well when they were allowed to grow and develop slowly as an assistant. I have seen others, like a former US captain, be assigned to the position of technical director before he ever coached a youth team.That assignment was given to him by our president. It didn’t go so well.
    I think Landon should start out in the academy or some higher level u16 program.
    One of the best systems for developing coaches was the old ODP system because you learned from a lot of guys who had spent a lifetime in the trenches.

    • I see this and completely agree with it. However, part of me would love the drama of Klinsmann getting fired and Donovan taking the reigns as a, interim turned longterm coach…

      • god no! I am very skeptical about Donovan’s ability to coach at a high stakes level, given that he was such a headcase throughout his career. Although, I’d be happy if he proved me wrong by actually producing results over time. Until he does that, let’s please not talk about him as a Nats coach.

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