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Landon Donovan ends retirement with return to LA Galaxy (UPDATED)

Landon Donovan LA Galaxy 10

The LA Galaxy are ravaged by injuries these days, but they could get reinforcements in the form of an American soccer legend.

According to reports, Landon Donovan is nearing a return that would see the forward come out of retirement to join the Galaxy as a player for the remainder of the season. The Los Angeles Times says an announcement could come as soon as Thursday.

(Update: Both Donovan and the Galaxy took to social media to confirm the deal on Thursday evening.  Donovan will wear No. 26 upon his return to the team.

“I have decided to come out of retirement to play the rest of the 2016 MLS season with the LA Galaxy,” said Donovan in a statement. “An opportunity opened up and after discussing it with those close to me, it felt like the right decision to return to a club that has meant so much to me.  I am very excited to be back and I will do everything I can to help the Galaxy, both on and off the field.”

“I don’t think I need to tell anyone what Landon has accomplished in our sport,” added Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “He’s truly been a great player. Now, Landon wishes to take on another challenge and I believe he has all the qualities necessary to be a player who can help the LA Galaxy in 2016.”)

Nigel de Jong’s exit to Galatasaray has freed up cap space and an open roster spot to accommodate Donovan, who retired from soccer at the end of the 2014 season after winning MLS Cup with LA.

The Galaxy are dealing with a slew of injuries, specifically to forward Gyasi Zardes and midfielder Steven Gerrard. The 34-year-old Donovan could give LA a much-needed boost up front as the playoffs approach.

What do you think of the news? Can Donovan make a major impact for the Galaxy?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I was happy to hear this news. Although he retired on an up note with MLS cup, it was premature. I thought it had a lot to do with that whole WC hangover. JK sure made the right decision to bring Wondo though. Those Belgians were shaking in their boots!

    But seriously, I am glad to see that people recognize how great a US star he was. There is no equal. Demps is great but is not half as dynamic as Landon. I hope he succeeds – until they play the Red Bulls and then I hope LA loses.

  2. Of course leave it to Gary Page to finally lay some sense to this board.

    As a die-hard Galaxy fan I can say most certainly this is an unforeseen & welcome addition to the team. To be 100% clear, LD is NOT going 90, he’s probably not even sniffing 45, but as a late game sub to either calm the team or help with poaching a goal (or assisting in making that happen) this is brilliant.

    Consider this, with Donovan coming back from retirement, he won’t be the Galaxy’s oldest player….he will be our FIFTH oldest player! Certainly the team would benefit from younger talent, but that’s simply not available to us at the moment. I mean, at this point, Alan frickin GORDON is starting games for us, I love the guy but seriously, the bar ain’t that high for LD to be a contributor.

    On that note, after the rash of injuries (unfortunate) and the loss of De Jong (huge debacle), the options available to the team are extremely limited. This is a near ideal situation where he’s unatached, knows the program, won’t cost any cash out of pocket (other than salary) and will not be called away to International Duty in November (which, if Zardes is miraculously back by then, he most certainly will be called out).

    And regarding the USMNT, most people were speaking tongue-in-cheek, which is super fun and I’m all for. But for anyone who seriously thinks for 1 millisecond that he would be in contention, just stop. I’m not even going to add any more color here, just stop.

    This is great news, it’ll help sellout the rest of the home games, allow a legend to get back on the field (at least for a few minutes at a time) and provide a positive presence in the locker room.

  3. Epic and amazing.Who saw this coming? Certainly not I. It’s not like he’s going to go out there for 90 minutes and score a ton of goals, but let’s not forget that he leads MLS and the USMNT in career assists, so he can play an important role there. After Beckham left, for example, Donovan took just about all the free kicks. Neither he nor Arena are fools. They will know how much to play him, when and where. He will probably be a situational substitute. Talk of him on the national team is kind of ridiculous. BTW, I have a theory as to why JK left him off the 2014 WC roster. Cortes, when he conquered Mexico, burned all his boats after he and his troops landed in Mexico. His troops knew there was no going back, they had to win and conquer the natives. I think Klinsmann left Donovan off the team to show that no one was bigger than the team and the team had to learn to play without its star. Maybe this is a crazy theory, but it’s as good as any. Was it a good idea? I thought it was a horrible mistake at the time, but I have moderated my views since.

    • Which is the opposite of what I have taught and learned in my 50 years in soccer; You bring and play with your best players when at all possible.

      It really didn’t help JK either. In my heart I do not think that LD would miss a fat sitter like Wondo did, and change the game and the possibilities for the US

      It was really an effort to cow the players and kill any second guessing or dissent which was a trademark of German coaches who coach foreign teams whose players do not display the fealty and obedience to coaches as German players are taught.

      It was German-born Lothar Osiander that left Steve Snow, at the time one of the most prolific scorers the USMNT had, off the starting 11 at the 1992 Olympic Games because he didn’t like Snow’s “attitude”. I could cite more, but it was even confirmed to me by a late great friend of mine, Detti Cramer, the coach of the great Bayern Munich teams of the 70’s and was briefly the coach of the USMNT in ’75-76 who related to me the culture of obedience in German football.
      It was Cramer who brought Beckenbauer back into the Bayern Munich fold after he was fired for having a child out of wedlock. Ironically, the reason we have so many German American footballers because of the US Army and the soldiers who fathered many of them out of wedlock, but were forced to acknowledge an pay support by the US Army. Cramer also related that he encourage and supported dissent if it was appropriate as he saw firsthand, as a German paratrooper during WW2, how many of his friends would have survived the war had they spoke up to many of the knuckle-headed superiors who has sent many to their death needlessly.
      It was the culture many were raised in and still present.

      • I’m sorry LD has never missed a sitter? If you don’t think so or haven’t seen it for yourself, I suggest you consult YouTube. I have seen it in person.
        But you also have to assume he would be in the position Wondo was in. LD wasn’t a poacher.

    • “I think Klinsmann left Donovan off the team to show that no one was bigger than the team and the team had to learn to play without its star. Maybe this is a crazy theory, but it’s as good as any.”

      Gary, while reasonable I don’t think your theory is as good as any. Your theory assumes that Donovan thought he was bigger than the team, and assumes that the 2014 WC team would have been overly reliant on Donovan therefore “needed to learn to play without its star”. Maybe those assumptions are correct but I am skeptical of both. For me the most obvious and reasonable theory is that Klinsmann did not like Donovan, mostly stemming from Donovan taking the sabbatical without Klinsmann’s blessing during WC qualifying, and wanted to stick it to him. Its the only reasonable explanation. Otherwise you have to believe that Klinsmann actually felt that ALL OF Johansson, Wondo, Green, Diskerud, Davis, Zusi and Bedoya were better than Donovan at the time. There is no way Klinsmann can be that horrible of a player evaluator. It would be hard enough to argue that one of those players was better than Donovan, but to argue that all of them were better is crazy.

      • What you say is not inconsistent with my point. I don’t think it is a matter of fealty to the coach as bottlecaps suggests, but that Klinsmann saw Landon’s sabbatical as a selfish act wherein he put himself above the team. As you may recall, Bruce Arena wasn’t very happy about it either and while he was indirect about it, when you read his comments you could tell he was pretty p.o.ed. Klinsmann is someone who lives, works, and breathes football and can’t understand anyone who plays professionally who doesn’t feel the same way. For Klinsmann, only a total and constant commitment is acceptable. It’s why Besler got in trouble for complaining about having to come into January camp and be in shape and that put him in the doghouse for a while. It has become obvious that Donovan is not like that, he has a life outside of football and doesn’t want to be obsessed with the sport, or sport in general. Also, while authoritarianism has been part of the German character, I think in this case it’s the part of the German character that relates to the total commitment, dedication, and hard work that is more applicable. Also, Klinsmann’s family background emphasized those traits. His family had a bakery and his parents got up every morning about 3 or 4 a.m. and worked long hours and rarely took any time off. As part of the family business he helped out beginning as a kid and this is how he was brought up.

  4. As interesting as this is, I read about an even more interesting signing. I read online today that Philadelphia has signed both Eric Wynalda and John Harkes to join Bedoya and others for run to the playoffs. They are said to be be selling tickets to first home game that they dress as some kind of battle royale

  5. “Does he come back rejuvenated, full of energy and a passion for the game that was clearly lacking his last year or so? Keep in mind few players – maybe no players – in world football history have put on as many travel miles as Donovan in his career”

    • On his facebbok page Donovan made it very clear that his role may be very limited, and only in certain situations. He will not be a 90 minute player and definitely not playing in all the remaining games. This is noteworthy as the Galaxy have 4 remaining road games where rosters are limited to 18 players, having a player who can maybe, at the most, play an effective 10-20 minutes, handicaps a team.

  6. The operative word is going to be “hunger”.

    Does he come back rejuvenated, full of energy and a passion for the game that was clearly lacking his last year or so? Keep in mind few players – maybe no players – in world football history have put on as many travel miles as Donovan in his career; you can understand how burnout and nagging injuries could put him on the shelf.

    One thing about Jurgen Klinsmann is, I really do not think Klinsmann “bears grudges” so much as he just totally whistles to his own tune and doesn’t really care if it makes people angry or not. If he decides Landon Donovan, in his new and returned form, would add something to the pool he does not currently have it would not shock me a bit if he turned right around and named Donovan to the next World Cup squad after so famously cutting him from the last one.

    One thing is, we were basically committed to playing a 4-5-1 last cycle, or at best a 4-2-3-1, and you can understand why Donovan didn’t really fit because there weren’t going to be a plethora of up-top players selected so much as JK was loading up on iron-lunged 2-way box-to-box midfielders like Bradley, Jones, Beckerman, Bedoya, Zusi, etc… But we really have transitioned to far more of a 4-3-3…which would seemingly open things up again for Donovan as an outside forward/winger, and all of a sudden technicality is back en vogue with the USMNT again.

    So if Donovan can indeed return, and can indeed return to effectiveness – which at 34 seems entirely possible, it’s not like he’s 40 – it would not shock me utterly if he wasn’t done in a USMNT shirt either. Again, Donovan fits in a 4-3-3 far better than he did the 4-5-1 we were playing last cycle.

    • I suppose we’ll find out more in the next few days, but I think we may be getting a bit ahead of ourselves here…. For me this feels a lot more like Arsene Wenger bringing Thierry Henry back to Arsenal in 2011-2012 to resolve an injury crisis. It worked out mostly well, including a memorable late match winner in the FA Cup… but nobody had much in the way of illusions about the future. Henrik Larsson’s successful 2 month spell in 2007 at Manchester United might also be considered similar– an accomplished professional doing a favor for a respected manager.

      But hey, I don’t know anything more than what’s printed here, so who knows…. For my part, I hope he is somehow incredible and plays until he’s 50.

  7. Donovan was the best US player so far like Cy Young was the best pitcher before 1920. He was the first, will always be thought of as one of the best, and deserves to have the awards named after him, but I suspect in less than twenty years no one will really think he’s a Best XI first or second team all-time US player. I think the dispassionate review him is as a career mid-table EPL player. A solid professional to be sure, but never one who would have warranted a huge transfer fee and never a regular starter for a Champions League contender. We finally have a yardstick to measure his MLS career — Giovinco, who as a marginal Italian international in his mid-20s has dominated a better, deeper league in a way Donovan never did when MLS was younger and had fewer stars. That’s the kind of player Donovan was — good, and often very good, but not a player who would have cracked a traditional international powerhouse like Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, or France. Whether its Pulisic or Green or others cracking into the top tier football clubs, there will come a time when US players are regularly lining up for Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern, Juve, ManU and the like. Those players will be rightfully thought of as the real greats when they win the the trophies named after Donovan.

  8. Anyone seen him play in the local amateur leagues while he was retired?

    Highly doubt this guy can just step back onto the field with any semblance of being match fit? If you haven’t even touched a ball in a pressured situation for a few months, you are not going to be able to play competitively at a professional level.

  9. Landon Donovan probably just rolled out of bed and dusted off his cleats for the first time in a long while, but he already moved ahead of Zusi and Bedoya on the U.S. player pool. ☺️

  10. That sound you hear is all the posters on the Rapinoe story who have stopped giving a crap about her and have turned their attention to a real soccer news story.

  11. by the way Kevin Baxter of the LA Times broke this story. Surprised SBI didn’t give him credit for breaking what is arguably the biggest soccer story of the year. Stay classy, SBI…

      • I get it. By the time a story makes it to SBI chances are you already read about it somewhere else that put it up first. So you just come here for the comments.

      • Nope. YOU read closer. Still don’t see Baxter’s name up there. But I admire your calling someone out on your mistake. I do believe you just flamed yourself. And you even got backup!

      • Just look at their referenced linked. He is appropriately cited. It has a link to Kevin Baxter’s twitter account where he broke the story.

        Hunky Dory – Nope. YOU read closer…YOU just played yourself…TWICE

      • We cited Baxter’s Tweet offering some information on a timetable, but Baxter did not break the story, the first tweet the story is linked to was where the comeback story was broken.

        Hunky Dory, looking back at some of your comments I think I should remind you that commenting on this site is a privilege, NOT a right.

      • Hunky Dory, there was a link provided. You just had to click on the link and it goes to Holmes Twitter. So yes he was credited. Also, many places are reporting that it wasn’t Holmes that first broke the story. Blake Thomsen of The Cauldron first reported the story.

      • I feel kind of bad piling on… considering everybody on the side including Ives has already flamed you. But really, by your logic, shouldn’t you have been saying “Stay Classy, Peter Galindo”?.

        Maybe just stay down this time….

    • If you are going to go to the trouble of coming onto the site and accusing us of something, try to get your facts straight. The story wasn’t broken by Kevin Baxter, it was broken on Twitter by Blake Thomsen. Perhaps you missed that initially because Baxter himself failed to properly credit Thomsen when he first began reporting on the story. SBI credited Thomsen from the beginning, and Baxter eventually did credit Thomsen.

      Citation of credit for stories is something we take seriously at SBI, so for you to come on here with a terribly weak attempt at claiming otherwise was uncalled for. Do better next time.

      • Get em Ives!! And when are we going to have some recognition for those of us who’ve been around since the early days? Should have a podcast or something 🙂

  12. I am now having sad flashbacks of Michael Jordan’s “comeback” with the Wizards. For someone who relied so much on speed I really hope he has been putting in the work to be ready if he is going to do this.

    I’d rather have my last LD moment be him lifting the cup, and give a chance to Jamison, Lassiter, or Villarreal.

    • I got to see Jordan play in 2003, during his return with the Wizards. He scored 23 points in the first half, 2 in the second. I know he was far past his prime, but still cool to see him in real person.

      I could see LD being able to contribute for the last 15 minutes of a game. I bet he hasn’t lost much of his speed, just endurance. He wouldn’t be announcing this unless he’s been training and Arena thinks he can add something to the LAG.

      • I don’t see someone like Landon coming back to take that role. Jordan was able to average 20 a game because he just would go into the post or spot up for open 3s, what does Landon do become a target forward. I look at the amount of speed he lost between age 30 and 32 and worry what he’s lost in 32-34. Maybe his knee problems have gotten better in the time off and he’s regained some speed or at least maintained, but I’m doubtful.

      • @johnny

        “I don’t see someone like Landon coming back to take that role.”

        from what landon said, that seems like exactly what he’s willing to do. who knows if it’s true — and i have serious doubts that he could even fulfill that limited of a role.

      • Nate made the comment before the update and Landon’s comment. I think that may be the role he takes at first just to get into game shape we’ll see after that. (Kuddos to SBI by the way for just updating the original so we didn’t end up with two similar, but unlinked discussions)

  13. I’m no hater. He’s the best player the US has ever produced, and he was still the best player we had when he retired last year. (Of course, I think that Sasha Kljestan is second best, so take my opinion with a healthy grain of salt).

    Oh PLEASE Landon please come back!!!

    • I was referring to the people who are already on the negative train and the man hasn’t even stepped on the field yet….when LD is motivated he can do things no one else can and I don’t think he’s coming back to embarrass himself or the Galaxy which leads me to believe that if he’s coming back he has been playing or training in some sense. I personally think he’ll be just fine but I’ll with hold any criticism/praise until he actually plays

  14. It seems all of the LD haters have finally showed themselves……good for you guys, it was only a matter of time before it happened!

    • For sure. You are talking the best player the US has ever produced, but he doesn’t go through allocation?

      What is allocation then?

      Can Yedlin retire, then come back here now?

      • Rule one of MLS allocations:
        If the player wants to play for The Galaxy and the Galaxy wants him, then he goes to the Galaxy.

    • wait, no; i want a serious answer on this. does the galaxy still own his rights if his contract hadn’t run out yet? as a (sort-of) usmnt player, he should go through the allocation order, correct? so does galaxy hold the top spot? if not, what did they give up to get him?

      • and yes, i understand the real answer is that the galaxy (and any other of the don’s “marquee” teams) get the players they want, but i want garber to have to explain it.

      • LA could only have lost Donovan’s rights if he had been sold and LA spent the transfer. He retired and LA kept his rights. Even if he hadn’t retired before the new CBA, Donovan would still have been a free agent free to sign anywhere, and not subject to discovery claims, based on service time. But he retired before the new CBA, so yeah, it didn’t take anything crazy for Donovan to return to LA.

  15. If it happens–and I think it’s still a big if–he’s going to be super rusty. It would take him a good month or two to regain any semblance of touch and form. Count me as skeptical.


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