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Landon Donovan wants an American coach for USMNT

The U.S. Men’s National Team head coaching search will go on throughout the year, but one former star has listed a few names he’d like to see in charge.

Landon Donovan went on the Sports Illustrated Planet Futbol podcast and discussed the ongoing USMNT rebuild, including who he feels should take the reins of the USMNT.

“Personally, I would like to see an American,” he said. “I think Americans as a general comment understand the American player better. They understand the league better. They understand the culture better. And it’s better for the development of our coaches in this country to have that experience.”

He then offered up a few suggestions.

“I think Peter Vermes has been excellent in Kansas City. I got to know him a little bit last year. [Gregg] Berhalter I think has done a really good job with very limited resources in comparison to some of the other teams. I think Greg Vanney has been terrific in Toronto. Caleb Porter has done a great job.”

“Times are much different, and now there are a number of good young American coaches who have really done a good job,” Donovan said, “and they’re more in tune with the modern game and I think would be well-suited to coach the national team.”

Donovan himself has been with the national team under Americans Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley, and under Jurgen Klinsmann, a German.

While the coaching search is a big one for Donovan, the Club Leon forward has his eyes set on another challenge: youth development.

“The part that I personally am most passionate about is youth development. And that goes for boys and girls, men and women,” he said. “I don’t have the experience on the women’s side, so there would be people much better suited to handling that. But for me, the part that I’m most passionate about and that I think we still have a long way to go with is the youth development part.

“I just see too many really good players being developed around the world, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why we aren’t doing the same. My goal is I want to win a World Cup. Not me as a player, but as a U.S. Soccer fan I want to win a World Cup. And the way you do that is by developing players that can win a World Cup. And I just don’t think we’ve done a good enough job of it.”



  1. Who cares what he thinks. That is pure nonsense. The coach should be the best available candidate. The Donovan/Howard/Wambach/Arena xenophobia ideals have no place in the USMNT or the USWNT.

  2. i have read nearly all of the above comments.

    i totally agree with landon. 100%. i also want to see us win a world cup. and led by an American coach.

    for all of the reasons that he said. because an American coach understands American players and culture better.

    i think creating something that belongs to us is at the core of every effort at every level.

  3. It is not hard to figure out where Landon is coming from. When Landon missed a USMNT game for personal reasons, I am sure Bob Bradley was not happy about it, but Bob did not take the opportunity to trash Donovan in the press, like JK did for much smaller slights.

    If that is the difference between an American and a foreign coach (and it is one that Landon experienced), it is no wonder he wants an American coach.

  4. The talent pool of American coaches that have not yet coached international football is very meager. Vermes and Jesse Marsch are guys who coach dirty teams. Berholter needs more experience. Caleb Porter had a pretty talented Olympic team in 2012 and he couldn’t qualify. Who else is there? Jay Heeps? Surely you jest.

    • Klinnsman’s hand picked buddy – Andi Herzog – couldn’t qualify with a pretty talented Olympic team in 2016. I would give Porter a half-pass because he was selected to coach that team just a few weeks/months before the tournament while he was still coaching an excellent Akron University team.

  5. World class players in Europe are trained in special soccer academies. Sandlot soccer is fun but not the source of soccer players at the highest levels.

    • I could get behind that choice. Very experienced international player that was also very successful for his club team. Isn’t he currently an assistant somewhere besides Hannover 96?

      I’d rather hire a guy like Cherundolo than someone like Vermes or Berholter.

  6. The US win a World Cup? Not going to happen in the next 40 years. We don’t produce world class players. It’s not in our culture. We’re a football, basketball, baseball country. Kids here just don’t play soccer outside of organized events. Ever watch one of those soccer documentaries made overseas? Kids in those movies are playing soccer all the time, after school, on weekends, etc. Many wonderful players. Heck, I was in a park in Germany and slide into a pickup game there. When was the last time you saw a pickup in a park in the US?

    The US just can’t compete at the WC level. Sure, we can stone wall our way into the round of 16, but playing creative, attacking skillful soccer is not our MO. Holland, Portugal, Mexico, and Belgium all win it before us.

    Plus at the youth “development” level the emphasis is all on WIN NOW. We all know the best 12-16 year olds do not end up being the best 22-24 year olds. All you have to do is understand teenage development to know that. Those kids that may end up being the best at age 23 because they have a long development arc, are likely out of the game long before they hit their peak.

    • Agreed. Watch how kids under 10 train or play in non organized sessions. Well in the US they just don’t. You’ll find a pick-up, I have anyways in various places around the country, with some frequency, but it is always adults and very often foreigners. But kids, no that doesn’t exist. Whereas in France, my home now, or England, I’ve seen, or any number of other countries from Brazil to Croatia, I imagine, it is commonplace to see youths of different ages playing their own games any day in almost any park or public space. In France the level is really high already at 6-7 years old. And on top of that there is a feeder club and scouting culture in place that doesn’t really miss a young talent.

      The difference in soccer culture is NIGHT and DAY. The US is very far behind the rest of the world. Which is actually fine by me.

      • Word!

        Because you live in France, watch Concrete Football available on Netflix. There’s no way the US will ever compete with countries that have that kind of “development” taking place. Scouts are picking those kids off the street. We don’t have anyone is the US playing street soccer, at least in the numbers where it would make a difference.

      • I understand what you are saying, but I’ve been involved in education for the last eighteen years and almost every day there are kids playing pick up soccer at recess. I think as we improve the knowledge of youth coaches at younger levels our production of talent will improve. Over the last say 20 years as soccer has grown in the US a lot of coaches came out of the parent ranks who sometimes never even played formal soccer often hadn’t seen a professional match but they cared about their kids and the stepped in to fill a need. Now those kids that grew up playing soccer as kids are having kids and will be moving into those coaching spots.

    • In Southern California where I am from and now reside, many schools are majority Hispanic. Soccer is the default activity. Maybe you should spend more time here instead of in Europe before opining on soccer playing youth in the US. There are actually more Hispanics in the US than there are Spaniards in Spain. More and more parents are concerned about the long term deleterious health effects of football, so the numbers playing football may decrease in the future and lead to an increase in soccer participation. As of now, football has the most youth participants, followed by baseball’/softball, soccer, and then basketball. A number of big European soccer clubs have now set up scouting operations based in the US aimed at finding promising young American players. Only one other country (England) had a team make the knock out round of both the U-17 and U-20 World Cups. While our pay to play system needs to be improved, things are not as bad as you seem to think..

      • Even in a place like Princeton, NJ area, the kids are more likely to be playing soccer than baseball or basketball at recess. (It is true that there is also some kickball, but that usually involves a teacher organizing things.) It is true that there is not much free play outside of school recess in any sport, except maybe street hockey on the cul-de-sacs. My own impression is that kids do not participate in much free play outside of school recesses, no matter the sport. If you can find a way to change that, it is likely the soccer in the US would improve.

        But as others have said, the parents of children today have parents who are much more knowledgeable about soccer than their parents were and that will likely be true for another generation. It is, after all, parents who are the first coaches and the ones who actually control what their kids do much of the time.

      • I visit the States all the time, lived there for 25 years, played youth soccer there for 20 of those years.. Now I usually visit a place you would expect to see kids playing, Seattle, and no, I have not witnessed much 6 to 10 year old self-organized pick up. I want as much as you all for the game to develop here, and you are all right that it is, but… I just think that the level is just much higher everywhere else. The way kids self-train on a little beach in Normandy, for example, is astounding. I go there often just to watch. I’ve never seen anything even close to it and I was raised in an american soccer hotbed. Apologies for saying that the United States will never be the best – it is only my opinion – I know that is a sore subject for Americans and we will always display a healthy reluctancy in believing it.

        Of course there are a lot of very very good American youth soccer players in the US. Those players breathe the sport from a young age. But the country doesn’t. It would be interesting to travel the 50 states and see for myself, I haven’t done that, have you?

      • And Gary, I recently spent a week in San Diego near Pacific Beach. Ripe days for pick up, perfect flat beach for a game. Soccer was most definitely no the choice sport, actually I didn’t see anyone playing. Only American football. Same thing in La Jolla. Nobody playing on the beach. Maybe you’d say those are upscale beaches, but that would only prove my point that the culture does not really have the soccer bug. I mean really.

  7. “I think Americans as a general comment understand the American player better”
    That’s a pretty weak argument considering how “American Players” can come from just about anywhere in the world and some of them don’t even speak the language…..on the other hand mls coaches need to learn at some point and if their own country won’t give them a chance nobody else will.

  8. i hear what everyone is saying, but if you had a tie, or uncertain who was better, you don’t go American?

    I do. And guys like Vermes are going to be tough to beat.

  9. I am suspicious of anyone who insists the next coach should only be American or should only be foreign. They are inevitably overlaying their own opinions about things that have nothing to do with soccer and should not be factored into the equation. I would hope the best candidates will be interviewed and the best candidate chosen, regardless of where he is from.

  10. Just when my opinion of him was getting much higher, he has to say something stupid like this. Note his exact words “…They understand the league better…”. What league is he referring to? I didn’t realize US Soccer and MLS went hand in hand so that being an American MLSer is now requirement for coaching the Nats. Remember what Cameron said in his excellent write-up? This helps prove his point… Arena and his lackeys (Donovan included), along with USSF execs created this rift betweenf the MLS vs. European based players and the “real Americans” vs. “the others.”

    • Spot on!!! No other top country in the world would appoint a coach who has not, at the very least, played at the highest level or coached a level above where they are currently.
      An American coach knows the league? WTF?

    • I don’t see the problem here. I think you are looking too much into every word he said rather than the overall message. A good American coach could better understand, relate and communicate with American players. We do have a very different system here with college/MLS. Knowing how that works will be essential whether you like it or not. Having an issue with how US Soccer is run is fine, but saying that knowing how it works isn’t important for the US Manager is wrong.
      That said, we should not limit ourselves to only US Managers. I don’t think this is a controversial statement by any means to suggest some of the names Donovan threw out there.

    • Doesn’t Italy, who has won at least 4 World Cups, only uses Italian coaches, and generally only plays players who are in the Serie A on the Azzuri.

    • Klinsmann actually fits into this definition of “American coach”. He’s been in the US long enough to understand the culture and MLS but also bring another perspective to the role.

      • An argument could be made that Klinnsman was just as biased against the MLS based players as Arena/Donovan are against Euro based players.

        Arena called in Lletget – a Galaxy player; not Klinnsman, just as one example.

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