Sporting Kansas City’s Erik Palmer-Brown was some 9,000 miles away “going crazy” in front of a television when Landon Donovan scored his iconic game-winner against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup.
Tuesday, Palmer-Brown was much closer to Donovan history, this time on the field as the retired forward made his coaching debut at the 2015 Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game. Although the match ended with a Club America victory in penalties, Palmer-Brown was grateful to play for the American soccer legend in his first outing as a coach.
“It was awesome,” Palmer-Brown said Friday at Sporting KC training. “I got the chance to meet him before down at the U-20 World Cup, so having him there again, and him being the laid back guy he is, it was just a great time. His biggest advice to us was have fun, so that’s what we did.”
Exchanging pleasantries this summer at the U-20 World Cup was a nice start. After all, Donovan did retire leading the league all-time in goals scored (144) and assists (136) to go along with six MLS Cups and numerous records at the national team level.
“It was amazing to actually get to know him and joke around with him,” Palmer-Brown added. “Down at the World Cup, we joked around playing stick-man golf. The other day I was messing with him, I was like, ‘Oh, I heard you’re going to coach LAFC in a few years.’ It’s good to get to know him and know the kind of person he is for all the success he has had.”
The 18-year-old, Lee Summit, Missouri, native started the showcase for a second-straight year after putting in a complete, 90-minute outing in the inaugural game — a scoreless draw against the Portland Timbers U-23 side — in 2014. Palmer-Brown went 71 minutes Tuesday, highlighted by a strong slide tackle on his own side of the field in the first half.
Palmer-Brown was joined by teammates Graham Zusi, Matt Besler and Benny Feilhaber in Colorado for the All-Star week festivities. After feeling his way through the parade of events last year, Palmer-Brown said he was able to enjoy this year’s edition much more.
“I got more appearances this year,” Palmer-Brown said. “I think for the All-Stars, it’s busier, because the big All-Stars like Kaka and them, they’re busy all the time. They’re always wanted at appearances. For us, it’s awesome to be around those guys, experience those appearances and experience the time with the All-Star break.”
As for Donovan’s coaching career, both Palmer-Brown and Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes agree the U.S. legend has the resume on the field for the job.
“Yeah, I think he’s a great guy,” Palmer-Brown said. “He gave us our down time. He (also) pushed us in training even though some of us were coming off games. It was a great few days there, and hopefully he has a future in coaching.”