Stephen Brandt gives us his thoughts on the USMNT and MLS legend Landon Donovan.
Friday night, the greatest player in US Men’s Soccer History had his swan song. LA Galaxy Forward Landon Donovan played his final thirty minutes of his “farewell friendly” against Ecuador in Hartford. This is Landon’s last season, he’s retiring at the end of the LA Galaxy’s run this season, and playoffs. This last match isn’t about the score, or developing anything more for the USA team, this is about Landon.
Landon is the reluctant superstar, and jogs to the beat of his own drum. When he got tired from playing too much, he took a sabbatical, and went God knows where. There were sightings of Landon in Cambodia, in Wisconsin, heck he was almost Big Foot, except Landon isn’t that big. Like many great players, he strived to play overseas, and struggled both in England and Germany. That didn’t stop him, he became the greatest scorer and passer in Major League Soccer history (he hold both the scoring record, and assist record for MLS and US Mens National Team.
He bridged the gap between JM Moore, Eric Waynalda, John Harkes, and Julian Green. No American Player took the game in the States to higher levels than he has. He’s won titles every place he’s been in the MLS. He’s had to weather the David Beckham experiment, and you know what, Beckham may have said he was there for LA, there’s only been one star here for the Galaxy, Landon. He could have gone back over one more time, to make a name overseas, somewhere like Celtic, but he was so loyal to his LA Galaxy.We’ll remember his goals, the deep runs the nation started taking in the World Cup, Confederations, and Gold Cup. We’ll remember the Algeria goal, and not being taken to Brazil because the manager doesn’t like him. The fans grew to respect the little susperstar. Fans were made because of his talent, endorsements were brought in because of his name. Landon was good for the sport, better than the players who left the States to play overseas. Not to take anything away from any of them. Tim Howard might be more well known overseas, but Landon is more important to the American game.
We don’t know what is next for Landon, and by everything we know of the man, he can’t wait to be retired. He’s 32, and has been playing the sport since he was five. It’s time to let the body and mind relax. Sometime you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. This isn’t such a case, we’ve known from the beginning that Landon is something special. The sport has tried to create other Landons and missed, Freddy Adu is still failing, now in Serbia. To some the jury is still out on Julian Green.
It was a hell of a ride with Landon, and as he said when he was subbed out (he could only play 41 minutes due to club commitments), the future is bright for the US National Team. Oh and the score of the match? 1-1, and Landon had an open shot in the first half, but he pinged it off the woodwork.
Is Landon Donovan the USMNT’s greatest ever star? Will the MLS falter without Landon? Should he have tried once more in Europe?
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