A day after taking home the MLS All-Star MVP, Landon Donovan announced his impending retirement. He has left an indelible mark on soccer in the United States. He may not have accomplished everything that his talent promised, but he excelled in a soccer landscape that is behind much of the world. After battling himself and the pressure that came with his ability, recent memory of Donovan is of a USMNT player not satisfied with soccer. As he held up the MVP award with a bright smile, one could tell that he was content and happy with what life brings next.
In a larger context Donovan is easily the best USMNT player of all time. He has been the face of the team for well over a decade and continued to succeed in the face of mounting pressure. The accolades and accomplishments could fill up a book. When this moment has passed and thoughts are gathered, the legend that is Landon Donovan will grow. He is someone who today’s fans will make sure that younger generations know about and know well. Searching Twitter today will show anyone the impact Donovan has had in the soccer world.
In today’s context this announcement comes after a short on-field stint in the All-Star Game that included scoring the winning goal against Bayern Munich, his former team. He replaced Thierry Henry and told him it was a pleasure on the armband exchange. The goal was about Donovan not stopping and getting to the ball faster than the big guys. It was a smooth finish. After the goal and after the game, Donovan looked happy. It was a type of bright smile that has not been seen from Donovan in the last few years.
The same smile has been seen after recent LA Galaxy matches. Recent success by the Galaxy has many believing they are firmly in the MLS Cup hunt. According to Robbie Rogers, Donovan said he wants to go out a champion. This is added motivation for one of the most successful teams in recent MLS history. The remainder of the season will be a farewell tour and Donovan could be included in a USMNT friendly. It gives fans a chance to see him in a different context. For Donovan, all of this could end with a championship.
In the open letter released by Donovan he was gracious and professional. He also said that he will stay close to soccer after the MLS season ends. No matter the length of time it took to come to this decision, it looks to be the right one for Donovan. Many fans will miss Donovan as he moves onto the next step in his life, but for Donovan himself this ending seems fitting.