[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Like David Beckham before him -- at least for a year -- and more recently Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez -- the first American DP, Landon Donovan, decided to stay put in Los Angeles and he says the decision came easily.
With free agency looming at the end of the year, Donovan sat down and weighed the pros and cons. That process began after the Gold Cup -- when he had found his stride, leading the USA to its fifth Gold Cup title with five goals and seven assists in six games.
"In this case," he told reporters on a conference call Wednesday afternoon, "the pros of staying here heavily outweighed the pros of going somewhere else. That decision, for me, became very easy, very quickly.”
Considering how the year began -- with a lengthy layoff that extended into the first month of the MLS season and included a trip to Cambodia -- Donovan's desire to continue playing after 13 years -- already -- in MLS, but all the pieces fell into place, beginning with the Galaxy's commitment to keep the core of players who have won two straight MLS titles together.
After his five-year deal expired at the end of 2011, Beckham signed a new deal that kept him with the Galaxy for its title defense in 2012. Keane signed a contract extension in mid-January, and Gonzalez, who like Donovan would have been a free agent at the end of the year, signed a new deal three weeks ago.
But a key factor for Donovan was his changed situation with the national team -- changed from being on the outside, first because of his self-imposed exile and later the time it took him to regain his form. His play at the Gold Cup again makes him an automatic choice on the national team and likely headed to a fourth World Cup.
"If and when the World Cup comes around," Donovan said, "I want to make sure I have the best opportunity to be a part of the World Cup team. It makes sense from that standpoint as well.”
The money didn't hurt either. Donovan's 2013 salary of $2.5 million ranks fifth among all MLS players, but Scott French of MLSSoccer.com tweeted that his new contract will make him the second highest-paid player after Clint Dempsey -- which would put him in the range of $4.5 million a year -- and he could make more than Dempsey -- $5 million-plus in 2013 -- based on the incentives in his new Galaxy contract.