MLS: Landon Donovan joins the Earthquakes

The San Jose Earthquakes have acquired forward Landon Donovan, San Jose Earthquakes General Manager Tom Neale announced March 29 in a press conference at the Compaq Center in San Jose. Donovan, 19, signed a four-year contract with Major League Soccer as part of an agreement with Bayer Leverkusen of the German Bundesliga, and was allocated to the Earthquakes. The arrival of Donovan will bolster an attack that already has all-time Quakes leading scorer Ronald Cerritos, Canadian international Dwayne DeRosario, and 2001 No. 1 overall draft pick Chris Carrieri. "We think Landon will be a great addition to our team," said Earthquakes Head Coach Frank Yallop. "He is a young player, but he has already shown with the national team that he can compete at a high level. He is going to be one of the stars in U.S. soccer for many years." This native of Ontario, Calif., became one of the youngest Americans ever to sign a professional contract overseas when he signed with Leverkusen in February of 1999. He moved to Germany after finishing his scholastic career at Redlands Valley High School as a Parade Magazine High School All-American. "The acquisition of Landon is an extremely positive step for the Earthquakes, MLS, and U.S. soccer," said Neale. "This signing represents another example of MLS' ability to bring the top, young American players into the league, as well as the desire of these players to be a part of MLS. For the Earthquakes and SVS&E, it demonstrates our organization's commitment to our fans to improve our product on the field and win." Despite his youth, Donovan has already established himself on the international stage, starring for the U-17, U-20, and U-23 national teams, while also earning a position on the senior national team in 2001. In 41 international matches with the U-17 national team, he struck for an amazing 35 goals and 16 assists. In the 1999 FIFA Youth World Championships, he scored three game-winning goals and led the U.S. to an impressive fourth-place finish. For his efforts, he was awarded the prestigious Gold Ball, given to the most valuable player of the tournament. In 2000, at the age of 18, he was an integral part of the U-23 team that finished fourth in the Sydney Olympics. In fifteen appearances with the team, he scored nine goals and recorded one assist. In the victory over Guatemala which clinched a berth in Sydney, he notched two goals, and he also scored against Kuwait in the final game of the first round of the Olympics. His strong play with the U-23s helped him earn his first call-up to the senior national team from Head Coach Bruce Arena. In his first match, against Mexico on Oct. 25, 2000, he became one of only six players since 1985 to score a goal in his first appearance with the senior national team. He also added an assist in the match to help the U.S. to a 2-0 victory. In 2001, he has made three more appearances in a United States jersey, and has become a fixture in Arena's national team plans. He registered an assist in a 2-1 win over China on Jan. 27 in Oakland, Calif. "I am excited to be playing in the United States," said Donovan. "I think that San Jose is a good situation for me and I am looking forward to helping this team win some games. It is going to be a challenge, but with the talent on this team, we should have a strong season." Earlier this year, Donovan has also been an important contributor for the U-20 national team, as it qualified for the FIFA World Youth Championships in Argentina. In five appearances with the team, he found the back of the net five times and recorded five assists for 20 points. In two games in the qualifying tournament for FIFA World Youth Championships, he had one goal and two assists, both decisive victories, 5-0 over Guatemala and 5-1 over Trinidad & Tobago. The Quakes now have one of the most experienced members of the national team in Jeff Agoos, who has over 100 caps, and one of the brightest newcomers to the squad with the arrival of Donovan. The team now has four players who are regular contributors on their respective national teams, Donovan, Agoos, Cerritos (El Salvador), and DeRosario (Canada).
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