Donovan, a US men’s national team legend for whom the MLS MVP award is named after, has spent the last three seasons as head coach of San Diego Loyal in the USL Championship. The 40-year-old is also the club’s co-owner and EVP of soccer operations.
Carlisle notes San Jose’s interim head coach, Alex Covelo, is among the final candidates as well. Covelo took over April 18 when the Earthquakes parted ways with Matias Almeyda, and he’s since steered a 4W-3L-4D league record after Almeyda oversaw a seven-game winless start (worst in club history).
Should Donovan take over San Jose, it’d signify a remarkable return to the club where he won MLS Cups in 2001 and 2003 during his four seasons on loan from German Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen. Donovan then flipped to the other side of the Cali Clasico, where he won another four MLS Cups with the LA Galaxy from 2005 to 2014. He's also played for Everton, Bayern Munich and Club Leon.
Donovan has been linked to MLS head coaching jobs in the past, including last year at Real Salt Lake before then-interim boss Pablo Mastroeni got the job full-time. He’s brought San Diego to one playoff appearance, and they currently sit third in the USL Championship’s Western Conference standings.
Donovan was MLS’s all-time leading scorer before current Earthquakes assistant coach Chris Wondolowski surpassed him in May 2019. With the USMNT, he’s second all-time in appearances (157) and tied with Clint Dempsey for the goals record (57).
San Jose are one of four MLS clubs currently led by an interim coach, and they’ve made the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs twice since 2013. They sit last (14th place) in the Western Conference standings just past the 2022 season's midway point.