Soccer legends Landon Donovan, Stuart Holden and Brian Ching were in Austin, Texas, and took some time out from their HELM soccer camp for a 3v3 fan charity match. Could a 3v3 with Meghan Klingenberg, Morgan Brian and Carli Lloyd of the Women’s National team be next? I caught up with the guys before the match and got the scoop on that and much more.
According to Landon, the three former US National stars wanted to stay connected to each other, and to the game—“once you retire, you feel a little distant from it.” Together they formed HELM and choose Austin, Texas, as the first location for their youth soccer camp and fundraising efforts for Soccer Assist, and the Austin Aztex Foundation.
Here’s Landon and Stuart’s take on everything from giving back to the community to the current status of the National Team.
Landon Donovan on HELM:
“We wanted to help children; we all share in that passion. We wanted to give back and so the obvious answer was to do a camp and then we had to figure out what would make it different and special and something that’s memorable for everybody. We have the obvious camp component, which helps the children and gives us a lot personally – I think we’ve all gotten a lot out of that. And then we have charitable components we’re tying in the community. We want everybody to feel like they are part of this.”
Stuart Holden on giving back:
“It helps our footprint in every city that we head to because it’s not all about going in there and running a soccer camp, it’s about engaging in local communities.”
LD on retirement:
“I’m really happy in life. When I’m at the stadium, I won’t lie, I get that nervous energy that I want to play again, but other than that, I’m just happy in life. I got married, I’m traveling a lot, I see my family a lot, so life’s been really nice.”
LD on a career in coaching:
“I’m trying to figure that out. What I know is that I really enjoy younger age groups. I had the chance to coach the MLS Homegrown team last week – 16, 17, 18, up to 22 year olds – and I really like that age group. This week, I really enjoy coaching little kids, 9 and 10 year olds, all the way up to the kids that are aspiring college players. That I really like. The what or the where isn’t so important, it’s the why that is important. And the why feels good and so we can figure out the what later. So whether it’s a youth National team or an academy team or just continue to do our camps, those are all good options.”
SH on rehab and getting back on the field:
“Everything’s going well. I’m taking my time. I want to make sure when I’m healthy and I’m ready to go, that it all goes well and smoothly.”
LD on the All-Star Game:
“As a starting point, when I saw the roster I was blown away because I came into the league during a time when there were really no stars like this. Now you look at the roster and you see this list of players and it just blows your mind. I have a pretty unique perspective on that. I thought the game was terrific, especially the first half, it was very good both ways.”
LD on LA’s new franchise LAFC:
“I think they are going to be very successful and they are going to be a good challenge for the Galaxy. But the Galaxy have forever been the leading team in MLS and they are going to get a little competition, which is good for everybody. I’ve met the ownership at LAFC and they’ve done a fantastic job. They are going to be successful, there’s no doubt about that. They have too many successful people in the organization and it’s going to be a really fun rivalry.”
SH on the Men’s National Team:
“It was disappointing. I don’t think any player will have a hard time admitting that and holding their hand up. The goal was to win so the US didn’t win. But the beauty in soccer is you have another game right around the corner and it also happens to be this one is for going to be for all the marbles now and they have a chance to rectify that loss in October and it’s going to be a huge game.”
LD on the Men’s National Team:
“It’s disappointing and I know everybody, myself included wanted them to do better. I think my biggest takeaway doesn’t have to do with the National team, it has to do with the other teams in the region. So what happens, in the past if we weren’t playing at our best we would still win those games, you win that semi-final game, you win that third place game. Now, if you aren’t at your best, you are going to lose those games. It’s going to make qualifying really interesting.”
SH on 3v3 with USWNT’s Klingenberg, Brian and Lloyd:
“That started as some friendly (Twitter) banter but I think that would be a pretty cool event, right? If we get the National team players against three Women’s National team players. Especially because, I don’t know, they might beat us at this point, we’re kind of banged up with injuries and they are World Cup champs. We should try and start an online campaign to see if people want to see that.”
LD on 3v3 with Kling, Brian and Lloyd:
“Yeah, I’m totally down! I’ve never thought about it until Klingenberg tweeted it and I think that would be really fun actually. Maybe there’s a market for that. I’m down, just tell me when to go, I’m there.”
So you heard the boys, let’s make it happen! Tweet your support for a Donovan/Holden/Ching v Klingenberg/Brian/Lloyd match up.