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Donovan enjoys final special night with USMNT

Donovan waves goodbye David Butler II USA TODAY

Photo by David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports


EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — It was not the fairytale ending that some thought it would be, but for Landon Donovan it was incredible all the same.

After putting together a remarkable 15-year international career filled with highlights, records and memorable moments, Donovan closed the chapter on his time as a member of the U.S. Men’s National Team on Friday night. He did so in a celebratory friendly against Ecuador at Rentschler Field that was tainted a bit by a late Enner Valencia goal – but the equalizer in the 1-1 draw did not take the shine off what was a special night for Donovan.

Not when he had a giant tifo celebrating his U.S. career unveiled pregame. Not when he was given a custom-made gift by U.S. Soccer just before kickoff. Not when he was honored over and over and over again.

“It was beyond my wildest dreams, for sure,” said Donovan, who was the U.S. captain until exiting to a standing ovation in the 41st minute. “As a human being to feel that kind of love and support is incredible. I’ve put a lot into this game over many years, and today it feels like it was all worth it.”

The game itself was not perfect, but it showed glimpses of the player that has awed fans and terrorized opposing defenses for more than a decade. Donovan was energetic, made quick penetrating runs with the ball, connected a range of passes, hustled to defend when necessary, and proved to be a scoring threat.

In a perfect world, Donovan would have netted in the ninth minute with his header from eight yards out or in the 25th when long-time teammate Jozy Altidore slipped him in with a nifty pass.

It was not mean to be.

Ecuador goalkeeper Maximo Banguera denied the 32-year-old forward on the first opportunity, and the post cruelly crushed dreams of a goodbye goal for the U.S. legend on the other.

Donovan still managed to make an impact, as his cross in the fourth minute wound up being a key moment in the sequence that ended with Diskerud’s goal in the fourth minute.

It all combined to convince U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to leave Donovan on until the 41st minute, about 11 minutes longer than had been anticipated. When Donovan finally walked off the field for the last time in a U.S. jersey, a roaring standing ovation greeted him as well as a smile and few words from the head coach who he has spent the past few months trading so many verbal jabs with – the head coach who controversially left Donovan off the Americans’ World Cup roster this summer.

“He told me he should’ve taken me to Brazil – no, I’m just kidding,” said Donovan amidst a throng of laughter in his post-game press conference when asked about Klinsmann’s message. “It’s weird in an international game like this to sort of stop and spend a minute appreciating it, but it was nice to hear the applause and Jurgen and I spoke today.

“We had a good conversation, and we both agreed that we wanted tonight to be about tonight. That’s it. It was nice and I’m appreciative of what everyone did to make tonight special.”

If the game was not already special enough, the ceremonies after the final whistle surely were. A video tribute documenting Donovan’s illustrious U.S. career was presented on the big screen on the north side of the stadium. It did not take Donovan very long to begin sobbing. He was overcome with emotion and understandably so.

“I watched some of the highlights and stuff and I think about where I was in my life off of the field during those times and how the game has given me an outlet to express myself and learn and grow,” said Donovan. “It’s pretty cool. I’ve been very fortunate.”

When the video ended, Donovan proceed to go over to the family members he had on the field and basked in the “Thank You, Landon” chants with them. He then made one more stop before walking through the tunnel one more time as a U.S. player.

Donovan went over to the American Outlaws, stood in front of them and led an “I Believe” chant. It was a euphoric but symbolic goodbye to many of the people who have rooted and supported him for so many years.

“We wish him only the best,” said Klinsmann. “I told him before the game that this door here is always open for him. This is his team. He built this team, he built so many things for U.S. Soccer. He deserves the biggest crowd, the biggest cheers and we all told him before the game, ‘Enjoy it.’ ”

Regardless of all that happened in the build-up to the game and in the past few months, Donovan did just that. Now, it’s onto his final few weeks as a professional player with the Galaxy with the hope that the season ends with the MLS Cup.

Afterward, it is onto the next phase. Not in the career of Donovan, but in the life.

“It’s nice to feel wanted, but I’m pretty sure this is it,” said Donovan. “I’m going to enjoy myself and enjoy the next chapter.”


  1. Whether or not you like or dislike Donovan, I think it is clear to any objective observer, and anyone paying attention, that there was a personal rift between Donovan and Klinsmann that was created when Donovan took his sabbatical. I also don’t think any serious observer of US Soccer thinks that Wondolowski or Evans were better picks to take to Brazil. That’s simply nonsense. Whether or not at that particular moment they were in better form than Donovan doesn’t matter, because Donovan any day of the week would have been a stronger pick, even if he had only been utilized as a super sub. Donovan’s intangibles, experience, and leadership far outweigh any form Evans or Wondolowski had at the time. The shame in all of this is that Klinsmann was unprofessional, and allowed a personal issue with a player to cloud his judgment as to what was best for the team, which is what should have mattered most. It was reminiscent of the 1998 snub of John Harkes by Steve Sampson. The only saving grace for Klinsmann was that the 2014 team didn’t completely implode like the 1998 team. However, I would contend that our performance at the WC this summer was marginal, despite escaping the “Group of Death.” We squandered a historic win against Portugal, lost to Germany, and subsequently had to rely on the outcome of the Portugal-Ghana game to squeak through to the 2nd round. The Belgium game was hard fought, but in the crucial waning moments, one of Donovan’s replacements missed a point blank howler in front of goal that would have likely sent us through to the quarters.

    It’s obvious that Donovan’s retirement was at least in part due to his exclusion from the WC team. He knew he had no future there. I contend that the end of Donovan’s international career was an absolute slap in the face to a player that has done more for US Soccer, both on and off the field, than any player ever.

  2. I believe that Landon should have been on the roster. I believe JK choosing Brad Davis or the like over LD was/is a crock. And I genuinely believe LD would have had a positive impact on our team, and I was upset about JK’s decision. But seriously, it’s over. The decision was made, and I don’t hate JK for it. I think he has done and will continue to do a good job with our program. Time spent hating him for it is less energy to give to support our national team.

    • I think most fans feel the same way, after all you always want to see the USMNT do well. I think since it’s the last game Landon will play in it’s like picking at the scab.

  3. Is it just me or does it seem that there are far fewer posts on SBI these days. I remember a time when something like a Donovan farewell article would have solicited far more then 15 responses.

    • Considering this article was posted on a Saturday morning when most people aren’t online and there have been about 20 other LD posts for people to discuss over the past few days? It’s just you.

  4. Klinsmann Go Away says:
    October 11, 2014 at 6:50 AM
    It’s so insulting that JK keeps on getting this platform to disrespect a US fans. This was not the send off Donovan deserved.

    Douglas says:
    October 11, 2014 at 7:50 AM
    I dont like all the JK platitudes though. He caused the problem, now he’s acting like it couldn’t be helped.

    David M says:
    October 11, 2014 at 7:56 AM
    It is sad that the US team is coached by a lousy coach and even a lousier human being.

    I really hope you and the rest of your merry band of skirts find happiness within your emotional instability and do so elsewhere. These kind of posts and their lack of quality, validity and sincerity are worse than pop-ups on this site. It makes me wish SBI had a permanent “ignore” or “block” feature so I didn’t even have to scroll through this pointless drivel each time anything national team related content pops up.

    At times, it feels like the SBI staff is trolling this lunatic base for my page hits and posts knowing you’ll take the bait. The entire cycle lowers the quality of the website infinitely.

    • I’m so glad that we have your posts to raise the quality of the website albeit not infinitely, since by definition quality can’t possibly be raised or lowered infinitely. But you certainly come as close as possible.

      • Old School is just lamenting the fact that SBI used to have slightly more interesting posts that had some potential for discussion instead of the piss in the urinal nature of the JK represents all evil and LD represents all that is good and true in life posts.

        Essentially SBI is now politically polarized forum.

        LD and what he represents on one side and JK and what he represents on the other

      • Hit the nail on the head, GW.

        Don’t get me wrong David M, I sincerely do enjoy discussions, debate and some banter, but the content being provided by fellow posters (you being one of them) on this topic is cringe inducing.

        You are certainly free to question the quality of my posts but
        please don’t pretend you’re oblivious to what I’m referring to and not acknowledge the level of absurdity it’s reached. It’s time to move on, grow up and stop dragging down the website.

        Enough is enough.

      • actually, it represents the polarizing ridiculousness of the decision, and the negative effect it had on so many USMNT fans who know it was what it was from the start and called it so

        for me, and I would bet for many of ‘us’, we’re disappointed in our fellow fans who don’t get it OR would prefer to sweep it away

        anyway, it’s a fight Klinsi picked so ultimately the responsibility for all of this is his

      • beachbum,

        With apologies to LeBron, The Decision was not necessarily polarizing.

        What is polarizing is how one chooses to react to it.

        And I don’t see JK ducking any responsibility for it.

      • this is true, beachbum, and we got KKAD (Klinsmann cool-aid drinkers) like GW belittling a man for not showing enough committment who wore the shirt in 156 games over 14 yearrs. What Klinsmann did in May the public humiliation of saying Donovan was not good enough for the World Cup that he lagged behind Wondo, Brad Davis, Julian Green, Zusi, Bedoya, Bacon Johannson and Mix Diskerud was about the same as spitting in Donovan’s face and will never be forgotten and many USMNT fans will be celebrating when Klinsmann is no longer coach. Anyone wonder why Tim Howard decided to take a sabbatical after Klinsmann failed to take his advice to put Donovan on the WC roster?

      • Beach,

        I never shy away from a debate, discussion or otherwise but comments like this are nonstarters:

        if Klinsi would just stop opening his insincere mouth on this subject there would be no issue

        Unsubstantiated emotional reactions veiled as facts in response to anything related to JK and his thinking, intentions or agenda are barely worth a response.

        but of course that group of you just wish we would go away, so much easier than facing it

        There’s nothing more difficult than trying to have a debate or discussion that screams at the top of their lungs and then covers their ears refusing to hear any feedback. As GW has eluded to, people lashing out at JK for even breathing don’t appear to be interested in debating, but harbor more interest in being the loudest. The assumptions and general conjecture are astounding. If JK answers a question: he’s lying. If JK doesn’t answer: he’s being deceptive. If JK says something we don’t like: he’s insulting America.

        JK was never hired to be our friend. JK was hired to be the National Team manager. If you’d like to debate his coaching style, I can partake in that. If you’d like to debate his decision to not bring LD to Brazil, I can partake in that (even though I believe it’s time to move on). If you’d like to debate his success or grade as a manager thus far, I can debate that.

        However, I can not debate his sincerity, truthfulness, intentions or internal thoughts. No one wants to shy away from debate but show me where the debate is? It’s nothing but dialogue you’d see in a teenage bad break-up. It just gets weird and is utterly pointless.

      • Isn’t the polarizing nature of the discussion exactly what keeps it alive? I am solidly in the camp that Klinsmann left Donovan off for personal reasons and I feel that my opinion can be backed up with reasonable evidence.

        Each of the potential reasons we have heard for his exclusion can be reasonably refuted or applied to another player more accurately…. 1) Form- (Jozy was in abysmal form prior to the roster cuts) 2) Commitment – Timmy Chandler, having never earned the benefit of the doubt that Donovan did, repeatedly turned down call-ups and still made the World Cup. Also, Donovan EARNED his spot back with a golden boot Gold Cup winning performance 3) Fitness – the ONLY person who said anything about Donovan’s fitness was Klinsmann and reporters confirmed that LD’s fitness in camp was at or above average in the squad.

        What’s more, we have other evidence (son’s tweet, JK’s insistence on lining his “compliments” with qualifiers that are, at best back handed compliments and at worst outright insults)

        I could put up with all of that if Donovan was dropped for a player I respected and thought was international caliber. But Brad Davis and Chris Wondolowski are not that and have proven so both before and during this past World Cup. I can’t even think of a potential argument to that point.

        Where that leaves me is that Klinsmann made a conscious decision to leave Donovan at home for personal reasons, which IMO means he purposely weakened our WC team for personal reasons. That is the antithesis of good coaching, and as a supporter of the team, is insulting to me.

        You can disagree if you like. But, is anything about that unreasonable?

      • Old School, I use facts and uncomfortable observations that don’t go with your persective

        and frankly, if you think Klinsi is being sincere with his comments, go ahead please! I am listening to ALL of your replies, all of them.

        from my perspective, it is you who won’t debate the realities. pointless or weird, how so? To me it’s more like an uncomfortable reality for many. If LD would have played like the player Klinsi said he was when he left him out the DEBATE would be of a different tenor

        but that didn’t happen, so it’s uncomfortable for those who believed it and used it to rationalize the decision

      • Freegle,

        “Isn’t the polarizing nature of the discussion exactly what keeps it alive? I am solidly in the camp that Klinsmann left Donovan off for personal reasons and I feel that my opinion can be backed up with reasonable evidence…Each of the potential reasons we have heard for his exclusion can be reasonably refuted or applied to another player more accurately….”

        Sure Freegle, but reasonable evidence is not the same as conclusive proof of anything. I’m sure you can make a real nice sounding argument for your POV but in the end it will still be a He said/She said thing.

      • Sorry GW, don’t think you can win this argument and I think it was pretty clear this week that Klinsi and Donovan do not like eachother very much. I think Freegle just spelled out what 90% of U.S. fans feel… it was personal and you Klinsi should have brought Donovan to the World Cup because he was better than many other players that went.

      • I’m late to the party, but have to weigh in on the side of GW and Old School. LD was visibly overweight and in poor form in May, that was very obvious. I was shocked at the time and dismayed b/c I knew he might get cut long before he actually was. Go back and watch his games in May. And yes, I agree that some fans’ emotional attachment to LD are blurring their logic.

      • Mr. Kinz,

        It’s not a question of winning an argument.

        Your so called 90% ( is there any proof of that?) are entitled to feel what they feel.

        I’m just pointing out that there is no definitive evidence to support your “it was personal” decision.If this was some sort of legal case and was brought before a proper judge your lynch mob mentality would be laughed out of court.

        Just be a decision is unpopular it doesn’t make it wrong.

    • It works on me sometimes. =/

      I do think that some people are honestly that bitter about the whole thing. Failing to realize that neither of the 2 grown men involved are innocent of some slight against the other. Blah, its done. GG Landy

    • Sorry “Old School,” but comments you disagree with don’t constitute trolling or lack of quality akin to pop-up ads. In fact part of what makes SBI great is the quantity of thoughtful comments here. You need to get a grip, sir, because you sound insane.

      • I don’t agree with beachbum, and quite frankly rare do. You’d never witness me labeling him a troll.

        There’s a fairly blatant distinction and I look forward to seeing you post more often to better identify the characteristic.

    • I agree. Why would he even bother to say such a thing like that? LD has retired and part of it was probably being cut from the WC team. Just say he had a great career and shut up, JK

  5. It’s so insulting that JK keeps on getting this platform to disrespect a US fans. This was not the send off Donovan deserved.

      • What he means is comments like this are completely disingenuous and insulting to US fans who were paying attention and using their brain to think for themselves rather than be eurosnob blind followers of Klinsmann. “We wish him only the best,” said Klinsmann. “I told him before the game that this door here is always open for him. This is his team. He built this team, he built so many things for U.S. Soccer. He deserves the biggest crowd, the biggest cheers and we all told him before the game, ‘Enjoy it.’ ”

        If any part of that comment was sincere then Landon would have either been at the WC or he would have been phased out of the USMNT picture prior to the WC so he, the fans, and frankly the world wasn’t shocked at his exclusion for players that have done next to nothing in their professional first team careers. Having Donovan in the 30 man camp was a complete charade.

      • David M,

        This is the sort of Political, polarizing post I referred to earlier.

        For Mr zip nothing but the complete and utter obliteration of JK and all things related to him will suffice.

        Which means ther is no point in replying to it. Which means SBI is not a discussion board but a poltical poster board.

      • oh come on GW, sorry not everyone agrees with you but frankly, if Klinsi would just stop opening his insincere mouth on this subject there would be no issue, NONE! but he can’t, so folks post because many of us are offended by it…it’s a discussion board. I feel sorry for those who don’t get this, but of course that group of you just wish we would go away, so much easier than facing it

        as for politics, you’re simply attacking the poster here, very political of you. I don’t really care about that either, those things happen on discussion boards

        but if you’re take is that Klinsi was sincere in his comments, we disagree and really, I just can’t believe it you buy that junk

      • beachbum,

        JK opens his mouth on this issue because he gets asked about it.
        I don’t recall ever hearing about him continually initiating discussion on the situation. JK appears to be one of those move on right away to the next thing kind of guys.

        And if he ducked the issue, you’d be blasting him for that.

        As for the term political I use that because this JK/Donovan thing is features two sides neither of which appears particularly interested in actually discussing the issue.

        SBI is not a discussion board if all everyone does is lob hand grenades.

        When one side is everything JK is all bad and LD is all good and the other side the opposite that is what you call polarization.

        And from what I have seen neither side is particularly interested in discussing the middle ground.

        As for JK’s sincerity, I look at it as would I say that if I were in his shoes? Is it a reasonable comment given the situation? In this case I say yes and for most of the part I have very little issue with anything he says because I don’t really worry about his sincerity. What does that have to do with anything? I’m not evaluating JK as a potential friend or in law, I’m looking at him as the manager of a soccer team. I’m not a JK fan any more than I was a BB fan or an LD fan.

        I’m a USMNT fan. Oh and I am a Frankie Hedjuk fan.

        I’ve followed the USMNT since before Twellman (either one) was an international and this team looks as promising, skilled, self assured and aggressive as any I’ve ever seen and that was a B or C team I saw last night than ran a pretty credible Ecuador ragged for most of the game.

        So you can live in the past and continue to parse every single phrase JK utters or you can enjoy what might be the most powerful USMNT ever assembled being developed right in front of you. Or you can chart some sort of middle ground.

        Your choice.

      • my choice is to support the team, the same as always. It has nothing to do with living in the past…all of this is happening in the present! come on GW

        as for the Klinsi/LD thing, you seem to believe it’s an equal opportunity pooch screwing thing, that there’s middle ground; the middle ground is Klinsi fu%$ up but won’t cop to it. When you screw up, you man up and own it, then move on. if you don’t, harder to move on.

        You bought his explanations on LD all the way, rationalized every one, which turned out to be BS imo; LD can’t play either wing, LD can’t play multiple formations, LD’s form shows he’s done, LD’s conditioning show’s he’s done, the players selected in front of LD are better, etc.

        and yet Klinsi continues to tell us Americans he was right 100% no regrets. I know that’s crap and say so. You say it’s not and understand his perspective. I still can’t believe you go for that junk either, or anyone

        hi danny 🙂

      • beachbum.
        You are blurring at the edges.
        The only thing JK ever said about why he left off Donovan is that others were a little bit ahead of him.
        JK never specified exactly what that meant. Pro managers very rarely do.
        The factors you cited for LD’s exclusion were brought up by people on SBI.
        Selection to such a roster includes a bunch of factors besides skill and talent such as , how well they fit into the planned scheme, their level of commitment to the program, what kind of locker presence they etc.
        in other words things you or I would have no access to.
        You are outraged by JK’s lack of sincerity while I simply say none of us have the ability to properly gauge it so rather than condemn someone on sheer speculation , I choose to ignore it and focus on what matters, the team on the field and the burgeoning culture of competition with this team. Maybe you don’t like what JK has produced but I do.
        Also you ignore the basic fact that JK was hired to change the culture and , unfortunately people like Boca and LD get swept out if they can’t adapt to the new culture.
        You insist on seeing a personal vendetta. I see none or at least none that makes any difference to me,just SOP with pro sports, a very cruel place.

      • Why perpetually claim no insight into LD’s level of commitment or versatity or what kind of teammate the all-time assist leader is when you’ve been watching him play for a decade and a half? It’s an abdication of your responsibility as someone who seeks to pursuade

      • Mr. Zeke

        “Why perpetually claim no insight into LD’s level of commitment or versatity or what kind of teammate the all-time assist leader is when you’ve been watching him play for a decade and a half”

        Probably because I don’t know LD personally and have not had a chance to observe him behind the scenes as he really is.

        “ It’s an abdication of your responsibility as someone who seeks to persuade”

        As a USMNT fan my responsibility is to watch the team and enjoy them. I’m not trying to persuade anyone of anything. I don’t care what you think. I’m just pointing out some of the screwy logic on display in these posts.

        But since you ask just remember that LD has never had a USMNT manager who did not need him more than he needed them. Until JK , it has always been Landon’s personal team and he has behaved accordingly:

        And as for LD’s level of commitment what does that have to do with anything? Do you think any of the other guys who did not make the final 23 were any less committed than LD?

        Your level of commitment, your talent , your skill, your sacrifice your desire, your personal relationship to the manager none of that matters if for whatever reason, you do not fit into the manager’s plans.

        Landon is not the first and won’t be the last very unpopular cut in pro sports.

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