Pechanga Arena- San Diego, California
They did their best to keep it under wraps, but a story like this just couldn’t be contained. After the big announcement dropped yesterday, the San Diego Sockers formally announced their newest player in a press conference in the Stella Lounge at Pechanga Arena.
With head coach Phil Salvagio and Director of Player Personal Chiky Luna at his side, Landon Donovan was formally announced as the newest member of the San Diego Sockers.
In attendance were numerous media reporters, current players of the San Diego Sockers, Sockers legend Brian Quinn, and members of the Sockers supporters group, The Deep End.
“We’re at the top of the league… but I still felt, and the coaching staff felt, that we were missing something to get to the championship,” Luna said after he was introduced to the crowd, “It was a no-brainer for us.”
“We’ve lost (in the playoffs) four years…it’s unacceptable to lose (and) to be part of the Sockers,” said Salvagio on the Sockers’ playoff runs in the past four years.”When Landon’s name came up, we were all for it, and I think he is the guy to bring us to that 15th championship, and that’s where we gotta be at the end of this year,” Salvagio announced before introducing Donovan and his jersey.
Donovan will be sporting the number nine when he is in a Sockers jersey, and not the number ten that he wore throughout MLS and the World Cup. The number ten is currently one of six numbers retired by San Diego, and belonged to Kaz Deyna, who scored 162 goals and recorded 155 assists in his 259-game career with the San Diego Sockers that lasted from 1981-1986.
This does mean that Cesar Cerda, the current owner of number nine, will be making a number switch. The Deep End’s Twitter account states that Cerda will now be wearing number twenty-nine for San Diego, which was later confirmed by the Sockers.
We’d like to point out a small detail that gets overlooked in all this media ruckus: @landondonovan will wear #9 for the @SanDiegoSockers, and Cesar Cerda, who previously wore the number, will wear #29. No official word on what was exchanged for the number #TheSockersAreAwesome
— The Deep End (@thedeependsg) January 24, 2019
Donovan gave the backstory on the signing, saying he got a text from a “mutual friend” of his and Kraig Chiles, asking him to entertain the idea of playing for the Sockers. After he initially believed it to be a joke or a prank, Donovan discussed the idea with his wife and eventually agreed to play. Donovan gave credit to Craig Elsten, General Manager Sean Bowers, and the rest of the ownership for “having the courage to do something outside the box.”
“The Sockers were the first name and brand in the soccer world that I ever knew… the Sockers name I had heard of because of their tradition, their history, and their legacy,” he continued, discussing his appreciation for the history of the Sockers and their history in San Diego.
When he was asked about the transition from outdoor to indoor, the “Sockers rookie”, as Elsten called him, said “the objective is the same…you’re trying to score goals and prevent the other team from scoring, but there are a lot of nuances that I will have to learn,” while being hopeful that, with the help of Chiles and Brian Farber, he could be up to speed in a short while.
One person who unfortunately couldn’t make the press conference was Bowers, who was out with a stomach virus, but as Elsten put it, “was invaluable in this entire operation…we wouldn’t be here without Sean.”
When asked where he would play on the field, Salvagio teased that “it’s not where everyone expects him to play… it’s not going to be on top.” Chiles believes that Donovan will be a good fit for the MASL style of play, as his soccer IQ “is the reason why he will translate so quickly into the indoor game… when it is all said and done, he is jumping into a very good team, a great locker room, and a great group of guys looking to support him.”
The Sockers have already gotten to work on promoting their new player, offering a new “Half-Season Supporters Membership”, offering six games with signed Donovan merchandise and an invitation to meet him in a special meet-and-greet. With attendance expecting to skyrocket, it is a very likely scenario that Sockers tickets become a hot commodity in San Diego.
Many fans are already appreciative of the move, including the captain of The Deep End, Lucas Oliveira. “From a fan perspective, we all love it. A lot of us in the section grew up watching him play… to see him in the hometown jersey of the San Diego Sockers is mind-blowing.” The Deep End is a popular spot for fans to get rowdy for the game and, even though they are smaller in number, have been doing a better job of creating noise at some points then SDSU’s student section, The Show.
With the signing of Donovan, the Sockers announced their intention to gear up for a championship run and will expect nothing less than to hoist the championship cup on Ron Newman Field at the end of the season.