Photo by ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
The 2014 MLS All-Star Game saw Landon Donovan come off the bench and score the game-winning goal. It was also the last time he will play in that event.
Donovan, 32, has announced he will retire at the conclusion of the 2014 season, ending a legendary 14-year career in which he became the MLS and U.S. Men’s National Team all-time leading scorer. The announcement comes a day after Donovan netted the winner in the MLS All-Stars’ 2-1 triumph against Bayern Munich in Portland, Oregon, as a substitute.
“After careful deliberation and many conversations with those closest to me, I have decided that this will be my last year as a professional soccer player,” said Donovan in a statement. “It has been more than anything I could have dreamed of to represent the LA Galaxy, the San Jose Earthquakes, Everton, U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer throughout my career. There are so many people I want to thank who have inspired me, guided me and helped me on this incredible journey.
“I simply could not have accomplished what I did during my playing career without an overwhelming amount of support from my family, my friends and many others. I plan to express my gratitude to everyone in a more detailed manner at a later date; however, for now, I want to single out the fans. You are the lifeblood of this sport and, without you, none of us would be fortunate to call ourselves professional soccer players in MLS.”
Donovan currently has an MLS record 138 goals and has won five MLS Cups, two MLS Supporters’ Shields and one Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. He was named to 14 consecutive MLS All-Star games and the MLS Best XI six times, crowned MLS MVP in 2009 and won the Golden Boot a year later. Additionally, he twice won the MLS Cup MVP award.
“Landon Donovan is one of the most significant figures in the history of soccer in the United States,” said LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena in a statement. “His influence on MLS and soccer in this country will continue to be felt for many years to come. As both a player and a person, Landon has been an incredible representative of the LA Galaxy, MLS and the U.S. Men’s National Team and it has been my honor coaching him.
“We respect his decision to retire at the end of the season and look forward to competing for another MLS Cup and celebrating his outstanding career.”
Donovan missed out on this summer’s World Cup, but still has notable accomplishments in the tournament and with the U.S. Men’s National Team. He is first all-time in goals scored and assisted for the U.S. and second all-time in number of caps earned. His last-gasp winner against Algeria at the 2010 World Cup remains one of the more memorable moments in U.S. Soccer history.
He intends to remain in soccer after his retirement.
“I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have played a role in the remarkable growth of MLS and US Soccer during my playing career, and while my career as a player will soon be over, rest assured I will stay connected on many levels to the beautiful game,” said Donovan. “As we enter a transformative time for the sport, I will do everything I can to help the continued growth of soccer in the United States.”
What do you think of Donovan’s decision to retire at season’s end? Surprised? What’s your favorite Donovan moment?
Share your thoughts below.