Club set for historic match against MLS powerhouse
SAN DIEGO (April 18, 2022) -The last time he was there it was on official business for the unveiling of his bronze statue in October. It was the place where he established a soccer legacy as a player. Landon Donovan returns to that spot but this time as the head coach for San Diego Loyal as the team heads into its most important match to date when it visits LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer Tuesday night.
“When we walk into the stadium, I will see the statue for a few seconds to remember,” Donovan said. “But after that, I am very competitive. I want to win the match.”
Donovan brings his squad into a third round match of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Dignity Health Sports Park (7:30 p.m.), the same place where he went on to win the MLS Cup and established a pile of accolades as a player.
But that was the past. Donovan and his team now have the chance to stack on more milestones to its own pile. Donovan can gather another piece of history for his squad in what already has been a bright start to the franchise’s first three years in the USL Championship.
After all, SD Loyal is in the early league calendar in first place in the Western Conference after eight matches played. It has endured an official launch and turbulent 2020 season during a pandemic and it went on to reach the post season in 2021.
SD Loyal now gets to compete in U.S. Soccer’s most historical competition at the national stage with its first official match against a team from MLS. SD Loyal is coming off a 2-1 win against Albion San Diego of the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) in the second round.
“There’s a lot of storylines in this game but most of all for me it’s an opportunity for our players to play in a real special game,” Donovan said. “That’s exciting for us on a field that we love to play on. It’s a big beautiful field and we think that suits us well. Of course, it means something more to me. My joy if we were able to win the game would be our players getting to experience something special. Watching the Galaxy not win is never exciting for me.”
Donovan’s squad was paired against the LA Galaxy on April 8 during U.S. Soccer’s live draw that aligned teams based on geographical region. Along with claiming $300,000 in prize money, the winner of the tournament earns an automatic berth to the 2023 CONCACAF Champions League. That’s the competition that pairs clubs from top-tier leagues in North and Central America and the Caribbean. The winner of that tournament earns a spot in FIFA’s Club World Cup to represent the region.
But for now, SD Loyal’s focus is on LA Galaxy at the place where its coach left many bright memories for the team that is now the opponent.