U.S. Soccer Legend Speaks

Landon Donovan: Professional sports in the United States have become "very corporate"

Courtesy: San Diego Loyal Soccer Club

Three-time FIFA World Cup participant with the United States, former Premier League midfielder and six-time MLS Cup Champion Landon Donovan joined Soccer Matters with Glenn Davis earlier this week. The U.S. Soccer Legend spoke on his involvement with 2020 USL Championship (2nd tier) expansion side San Diego Loyal Soccer Club, including his upcoming debut as a coach at the professional level.

"In order for this to be successful, we have to make this the community's team and, the way you do that, is by allowing them to be part of the process and really listening to what they want," said Donovan.

"In sports these days, in professional sports in our country - anyway you slice it - it's become very corporate," continued Donovan. "It's about what sponsorships you can get, how do you fill the seats, how do you maximize revenue. And I think people now, and I'm a big sports fan too, we all know that.... and we've kind of gotten away from the customer."

"We went out, we had twelve listening sessions with over 500 people in San Diego," added Donovan on the process of launching his expansion team. "We had teachers, we had surf community, we had the beer community, we had the business community that we listened to, soccer fans obviously, military, artists. We just talked to a bunch of different people about what San Diego is to them and what do they care about and want in a professional sports franchise. And over, and over, and over the world loyal kept coming up."

The interview can be listened to in its entirety on the "Glenn Davis Soccer" podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts and Podcast Arena.com/SoccerMatters.

Soccer Matters with Glenn Davis airs every Tuesday, 7 p.m. central , on ESPN 97.5 FM.

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10th-ranked UH looks poised for a great season

Here's why UH could make a deep tournament run

The Coogs are off to a hot start. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Through eleven COVID stricken weeks, the University of Houston football team has mustered three wins.

The UH men's basketball season began on November 25th. It took them five days to catch up.

The Cougars came into last week ranked 17th in the nation in the AP preseason poll, the highest they've begun a season in 37 years. They took little time to establish themselves as one of the top teams in the nation.

UH shot out of the gate last week to a 3-0 start, including a double-digit win over 14th ranked Texas Tech. That, combined with a myriad of week one upsets, sent the Cougars soaring even further up the rankings.

By Monday afternoon, Houston was already one of the top 10 ranked teams in the nation.

Now it's important to note that it's incredibly early in the season, and there is plenty of time for something to go haywire. With TDECU stadium right across the street, they've had a front row seat to see just how sideways COVID can flip a season. The football team may only have 3 wins, but that's partly because they've had to postpone 5 games.

Regardless, they remain 10th in the nation at the moment, and it's no fluke. This is a solid team that has shown glimpses for the past three years.

Led offensively by sophomore guard Marcus Sasser (17.3 ppg) and Kansas transfer guard Quentin Grimes (16.0 ppg), the Cougars field a deep backcourt that has received welcome early contributions from freshman Tramon Mark (14.0 ppg) who's already earned an average of 19 minutes per game.

Speaking of minutes, UH brings one of the most important skills to the court this season: experience. In the era of one-and-done turnover among NCAA programs, the Cougars bring back four players that averaged over 20 minutes per game last season. That type of experience playing with one another and understanding the system head coach Kelvin Sampson plays could prove invaluable come tournament time.

What truly gives this team a shot though is their defense and hustle, both of which are a direct result of Sampson. They're simply relentless on defense. After finishing 11th in the nation last season only allowing 62.1 ppg, they've shown no signs of letting up. Through their first three games they've given up an average of 52 ppg. Even with double-digit leads, this is still a team diving for loose balls and mixing it up for offensive rebounds.

All of those ingredients make for a very salty, and very entertaining college basketball team. The Cougars have proved in the past three seasons that they're legitimately tournament worthy, and as the preseason American Conference champion favorite, this is a team that could—and should—have their eyes set even higher than their sweet sixteen appearance in 2019. Nothing is certain in the COVID era, however, but if they can make it through the season relatively unscathed they should be a tough out during March Madness.

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