U.S. Soccer Legend Speaks

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

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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It should come as no surprise that after a slow start to the season, fans and media are starting to voice concerns about the organization's leadership and direction. The latest evidence of this involved Astros adviser Reggie Jackson and the comments he made on Jon Heyman's podcast, The Show.

Jackson discussed the Astros reported interest in starting pitcher Blake Snell. He said that ultimately, Snell was looking for a deal the Astros weren't comfortable with in terms of money and structure of the contract.

Which is interesting considering the Astros were okay with paying 5-years, $95 million for closer Josh Hader, but not willing to pay Snell 2-years, $62 million. We believe the opt-outs in Snell's contract were a dealbreaker for Houston. And of course the money played a role.

However, the Astros passing on Snell is not the intriguing part of the story. It was Jackson talking about the club's power structure in the front office and how they go about making decisions.

“Being fiscally responsible is what kicked us out of the Snell deal… That's too much for him… Between the 4 or 5 people who make decisions with the Astros, we don't play that game,” said Jackson.

Based on Jackson's comments in the interview, the decision makers are Jim Crane, Dana Brown, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and Reggie. But not necessarily in that order. He also mentioned that they had conversations with manager Joe Espada and his staff, plus some input from the analytics department.

These comments add to the concerns we've had about the front office since Crane moved on from GM James Click and operated without a general manager for several months. Which led to the disastrous signing of Jose Abreu and to a lesser extent Rafael Montero.

Which begs the question, are the Astros in a better spot now with their front office? Many blame Dana Brown for the state of the starting rotation. While there were some red flags this spring, anticipating injuries to Jose Urquidy, Justin Verlander, and Framber Valdez is asking a lot.

But only bringing in Hader to replace all the innings left behind by Hector Neris, Phil Maton, Kendall Graveman, and Ryne Stanek always felt risky.

Finally, what can the Astros due in the short-term to weather the storm while Framber and JV rehab from injury?

And is Hunter Brown the biggest liability in the rotation?

Be sure to watch the video above for the full in-depth discussion.

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