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Landon, don't go!
by Mike Woitalla, November 30th, 2012 5:34AM

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TAGS:  los angeles galaxy, men's national team

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By Mike Woitalla

Will Saturday's MLS Cup be the last time we see the USA's greatest soccer player on the field? Because Landon Donovan says he’ll be contemplating retirement in the offseason.

Calling him the greatest U.S. player means no disrespect to brilliant stars such as Claudio Reyna, Tab Ramos or Hugo Perez. But Donovan has had two excellent World Cup performances -- 2002 and 2010 -- and is the USA’s all-time leading scorer, with 49 goals in 144 appearances. He’s also the all-time assist leader with 28.

He has won four MLS titles: two with San Jose (2001, 2003) and two with the Galaxy (2005, 2011).

Donovan’s MLS postseason stats demonstrate what a clutch player he is: 21 goals and 12 assists in 33 games.

Stats, of course, aren’t enough to describe the magnificence of Donovan. He is the rare player who whenever he gets the ball creates the promise of excitement. It doesn’t happen all the time, of course, but with Donovan on the ball, there’s always the possibility that a game-changing moment will be delivered.

One can’t do better to describe Donovan than Soccer America columnist Paul Gardner: “Smooth ball control combined with superb balance, explosive acceleration and a wily soccer brain to make him a threat to any defense. … With the ball at his feet, he can cosset it, coax it, stroke it, occasionally bludgeon it. It is the silky smoothness of Donovan’s movement that catches the eye, nothing looks hurried or awkward. There is artistry in Donovan’s play, soccer artistry."

Donovan turns 31 in March. Too young to retire, it would seem. But he has, since debuting at age 19, played more than 300 MLS games, made 144 national team appearances -- plus scores of games in other competitions – and has spent offseasons playing in Germany and England, where in 2010 and 2012 he had successful loan spells with Everton to silence those who questioned his ability to excel abroad.

He doesn’t need to prove anything nor does he owe anyone. To ride into the sunset after what could be his fifth MLS title would be a fine finish to his stellar career.

But the USA does need Donovan for the 2014 World Cup.

Perhaps national team duty combined with club play has worn on Donovan -- which is understandable considering the amount of games national teams play in this era. Perhaps he'll choose to continue with the Galaxy next season but retire from international play.

And perhaps a break will re-motivate him. Whenever he's ready, he should be welcomed back to the national team with open arms.

 

 



8 comments
  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: November 30, 2012 at 9:43 a.m.
    LD is very talented, but his heart & soul have to be part of the game in order for him to evolve further. Every pro-player has limits when mental/physical burn-out sets in. LD is no exception. If he needs to step back from the game, he should do so; when, and if he decides to return, that is his timetable.

  1. Adrianne Torres
    commented on: November 30, 2012 at 9:51 a.m.
    I really enjoyed this article. The description of Landon's play is perfect. I truly hope he's not hanging up the cleats as he is still so much fun to watch play. I will add one correction, though. He is the all-time assist leader with 48 assists (not 28).

  1. Tim Gibson
    commented on: November 30, 2012 at 10:11 a.m.
    Landon is awesome & his legacy speaks for itself. We still need him, but one is bigger than the game. I think he forgot to check his ego at the door the past few years. But I think he needs to get over himself already & just play.

  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: November 30, 2012 at 10:25 a.m.
    Donovan is suffering from "burn-out". He hasn't had any real break in the last 3 years. No man can stand this much continuous high-pressure job for so long. All what he needs is a long vacation away from every thing soccer for a couple of months -- Hawaii sounds perfect -- and then he will come back fresh and ready to resume his soccer playing career.

  1. David Huff
    commented on: November 30, 2012 at 12:33 p.m.
    He should take a break for now and then step up to a higher level by signing with a club in France or Spain where he matches their style of play and will help prepare him for a very tough WC 2014.

  1. haendel lazo
    commented on: November 30, 2012 at 5:41 p.m.
    Landon, Do not retire, you will miss soccer you deserve some good vacations and come back to help us classify for Brazil 2014 and let the young kids keep learning from you.

  1. John Lakes
    commented on: December 1, 2012 at 6:26 a.m.
    I don't think he's retiring he just needs a break because he has had quite a few injuries in the last 12 months.

  1. Alex G. Sicre
    commented on: December 3, 2012 at 3:18 a.m.
    He's always been my favorite MLS and world cup player. But he does need a rest from the game as most of you has said. Take a vacation Landon(Hawaii or Tahiti sounds good}, then come back with renewed vigor and help us qualify and play in world cup 2014. We need you.


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