Danielle Slaton, who won collegiate and pro championships and was a member of the USA's 2000 Olympic and 2003 World Cup squads, will serve as an MLS match analyst for Apple TV.
She began her TV career in 2010 with the Big Ten Network and her MLS broadcasting dates back to reporting on the Chicago Fire in 2014. Slaton covered the Olympics for NBC Sports and Women's World Cups for Fox Sports, for which she, with Lisa Byington and Katie Witham, called a New England-D.C. United game in 2018 to become the all-female broadcast team to cover one of the USA's five major men’s professional leagues.
Slaton was elected as an Athlete Representative on the U.S. Soccer board of directors in 2021. She was previously an Athlete Council and U.S. Board member in 2012-2014. She also serves as chair of the Yates Implementation Committee.
“We will work closely with our membership to ensure that the rollout of 'Safe Soccer' is smooth, practical and sustainable, and will continue to work with the Participant Safety Taskforce to implement additional safeguarding measures across the soccer ecosystem,” Slaton said upon U.S. Soccer's Jan. 30 announcement of its response to Sally Yates' 12 Participant Safety Recommendations.
The 42-year-old Slaton is also on the U.S. Soccer Foundation board.
SOCCER AMERICA: First memory of playing soccer?
DANIELLE SLATON: I do remember this. I started playing soccer because I had broken this really nice glass vase of my mom's. I was 5 years old and my parents were like, 'We need to get this child out of the house.'
Soccer registration for AYSO was open and started on Tuesday, so I started that. Back then, it was those mesh reversible jerseys, blue on one side and yellow on the other. It was all boys, I was the only girl on the team.
SA: What made you want to continue in the sport?
DANIELLE SLATON: While track and field is a more of an individual sport — you're running your own race — with soccer I enjoyed the team aspect and social aspect, quite frankly, when I was in those teen years. I think that's what kept me in it.
And if I'm being honest, I was pretty successful at it. All of us like it when we're good at stuff. It was social and really fun, and it just kept driving me to keep progressing in it.
From the March 18, 2002 edition of Soccer America, with WUSA Commissioner Tony DiCicco, under whom Slaton earned her first of 43 caps in 1999. In 2001, Slaton started for Santa Clara in its 1-0 NCAA Division I final win over the North Carolina Tar Heels. She was the No. 1 pick in the 2002 WUSA draft and in her rookie year started for the Carolina Courage in its 3-2 WUSA final win over the Washington Spirit. She finished her pro career in France with Lyon in 2005.
SA: What's your No. 1 highlight, looking back on your career?
DANIELLE SLATON: I would say, well, there's two things. Of playing soccer, one was actually winning a national championship my senior year. You go out on top and win your last game against North Carolina, who's this storied team in women's soccer.
What I'm most proud of, though, is that I learned how to not be a soccer player anymore. I started when I was 5, and for twenty-something years of my life — when you're at that level, you're not someone who plays soccer, you're a soccer player. And when you lose that, or when you get injured or retire, figuring out who I was without soccer was really hard for me.
I eventually figured it out and my way back to soccer was through television. For a while, I wanted nothing to do with this sport. I had lost a little bit of myself in it and wanted to be as far away as possible from it. Rekindling that joy and love for the game is something that I feel really proud about because it was probably one of the hardest things I had to do. And it's long-lasting — I can live in this space with soccer in my life forever.
SA: What are you most excited about MLS now being on Apple TV with MLS Season Pass?
DANIELLE SLATON: I like building things. I like being apart of something new. I feel like I'm marrying two of these things that are like very much part of who I am. I grew up in the [San Francisco] Bay Area. Apple and I are about the same age. To have the opportunity to set soccer on another level in the way that it's consumed, I really really care about it.
SA: What will your specific role with Apple be?
DANIELLE SLATON: I'll be on-site doing games in stadiums as a match analyst. Which is fantastic. I don't know how they're putting the schedule together — I know that I'm going to be working a bunch of games upfront. I'll be a little more West — I'm very grateful to Apple and MLS to accommodate my new mom status.
SA: You’ve been broadcasting for more than a decade, what have you learned along the way that’s made the job easier?
DANIELLE SLATON: One thing is just being in it year after year; I gain confidence every year in my ability to do this job. The two things that I continue to rely on, is one: I always picture my dad when I'm calling a game. He comes from a sports background but knew nothing about soccer. Whenever I'm broadcasting, I pretend that I'm sitting on the couch and trying to teach my dad about the game.
When I started, I was at the Big 10 network, and so I would just picture the parents, who were the only ones watching anyway, and explaining the game to them. That's been my philosophy — and if I'm always trying to teach, I'm always trying to learn, and I'm always trying to take in new things to communicate to the viewers.
SA: Do you have any hot takes for the MLS season?
DANIELLE SLATON: I say this because I've been following San Jose. What is Luchi Gonzalez gonna do? The hot take is, I don't know — I'll frame it in a positive: Luchi Gonzalez is going to have a bigger impact on San Jose than people think.
Do not follow ladies soccer, did not know of Stanton, thank you for the write-up. Interesting answer to the question about her 2nd career highlight - learning not to play soccer. Some very good insights. I know I know a number of pro players in soccer and other sports, they do not all, few in fact, have an understanding of the importance of the final transition - the final exict off the field. I am not a fan of the MLS Apple deal, but I do respect the names they've put on their list and I do like idea of including ladies. I liked what they, the former lady players brought to the 2022 WC Coverage, and I think they will add a nice facet to the the Apple MLS coverage, making it singular in the global context. Maybe the beginning of the USA realizing we don't need to copy others, for sure understand and learn from them, but build our own model. Thank you.