And so begins Landon Donovan’s coaching career.
Major League Soccer announced Thursday that the LA Galaxy and US national team legend will coach the MLS Homegrown Team at the 2015 Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game later this month.
The MLS Homegrowns will take on the Club América Under-20 team at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo., on Tuesday, July 28 (9 pm ET), as part of 2015 AT&T All-Star Game festivities.
Retiring from professional soccer after guiding the Galaxy to a record-breaking fifth MLS Cup title in 2014, the Homegrown Game will mark Donovan’s return to the pitch – but on the other side of the white line.
“I am truly honored to coach the MLS Homegrown Team in this year's Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game,” Donovan said in a statement. “As someone that was developed in MLS, I hope I can provide some insight to these young players and help them reach their goals of becoming successful professionals. It will be a great All-Star week for everyone involved and I'm looking forward to the opportunity.”
The most decorated player in American soccer history, Donovan finished his professional playing career as the MLS all-time leader in goals scored (144) and assists (136). In his 14 years in MLS, he won six MLS Cups, two Supporters’ Shields and the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup championship, while also being named an MLS All-Star a record 14 consecutive times. In addition, the California native holds the top national team records in goals (57) and assists (58) – the only American player to surpass the half-century mark in both categories.
The Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game provides a yearly opportunity for MLS to showcase its top young talent and youth development system. MLS youth academies have produced some of league’s biggest stars including D.C. United’s Bill Hamid and LA Galaxy’s Gyasi Zardes, both of whom are now national team regulars.
In that same company are Chicago Fire’s Harry Shipp, Columbus Crew SC’s Wil Trapp, New England Revolution’s Diego Fagundez and Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s Russell Teibert – all players who have excelled for their hometown clubs and become critical first team players.
As the MLS Homegrown Team head coach, Donovan will select the MLS Homegrown Team gameday roster from the pool of Homegrown Players nominated by MLS clubs, taking into account player availability. The gameday roster will be announced the week leading up to the match.
In the lead up to the 2015 Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game, MLSsoccer.com will kick off a special “Road to the Homegrown Game” video series that will give fans a behind the scenes look at some of MLS’ top homegrown talent. The series will consist of six episodes chronicling the lives of select Homegrown Players as they work through the early years of their professional careers.