Donovan’s Loyal will play on their old ground against LA Galaxy

SAN DIEGO (AP) — When Landon Donovan walks past his bronze statue Tuesday night at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, there will be a brief moment of nostalgia and gratitude.

Then it will be time to get to work.

Donovan will coach his San Diego Loyal against the team he once played for, MLS’s LA Galaxy, in the third round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. It will be the biggest game in the Loyalty’s three-year history.

It probably wasn’t entirely a coincidence that the USL Second Division Loyal drew against the Galaxy in the US Open Cup, the oldest soccer tournament in the United States that serves as a national championship for all levels.

Donovan played most of his MLS career with the Galaxy, from 2005 to 2014 and again in 2016. He scored a team record 113 goals and 107 assists and led the Galaxy to Cup titles MLS four times.

“From a proper perspective, it’s really exciting,” Donovan said. “To have the opportunity, first of all, to travel there and play on their ground, which is an iconic stadium for our country in football, is great for our players and very exciting. But it’s an opportunity that you you may never have as a player again. There’s no guarantee you’ll ever be able to play against players of that quality again. I think that’s the way the guys are going to approach it and that is really exciting for them.

The Loyals have faced MLS teams three times in exhibitions, including losing 1-0 to Vancouver this pre-season. They beat FC Dallas 1-0 in the 2020 pre-season and lost 1-0 to Seattle in 2021.

This will be the first time they face the Galaxy, who play 112 miles from Loyalty Stadium at the University of San Diego.

“These are prohibitive favorites,” Donovan said. “They have players on their roster making $4 million, $5 million, $6 million, versus guys on our roster who in most cases are making six figures at most. It’s a whole different animal.

“The experience will be literally invaluable to our players,” he added. “But we’re not going there just to be a wall ornament. We are going there to try to win the game. There is no question. We will do our best to do so.

It will be the first time Donovan has returned to the field in suburban Los Angeles since his bronze statue was unveiled in October to honor his legacy as one of the greatest players in MLS history as well. than American football in general.

The statue shows Donovan in a post-goal celebration with his arms outstretched and his mouth open. It’s not far from a statue of David Beckham.

“When we pass Tuesday, there will be a brief moment of nostalgia and appreciation for the Galaxy doing this for me, but then I’m really focused on the game,” Donovan said. “I’m very proud of it because I sacrificed a lot to have something like this, hopefully in perpetuity but at this stage it’s nothing more than that because I’m focused on the game.”

Donovan said he believed the statue was an accurate image of him. “I didn’t really look that closely. I think it’s probably still hard to make it exactly realistic. I’ll be honest, I’m not the nicest guy so it’s always going to be a tough task,” he said.

The Loyal, who sit first in the USL Western Conference, beat Albion San Diego of the National Independent Soccer Association in the second round of the US Open Cup.

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