Donovan reluctantly faces the end

By Paul Kennedy
(@pkedit)

Everyone talks about the five MLS Cups Landon Donovan has won, but there is also the MLS Cup he lost. Painfully.

It happened in 2009, and the LA Galaxy had come together in the third year of the David Beckham era to finish within a point of winning the Supporters' Shield and return to the playoffs for the first time in four years. It swept all three games en route to MLS Cup in Seattle, but it blew a second-half lead against Real Salt Lake and went on to lose the shootout during which Donovan skied his shot over the crossbar.

That loss was a difficult experience for Donovan and his teammates, who included rookies Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza, now each in his sixth season with the Galaxy.

"You never know when you're going to get back." he said on Friday as he prepared for his seventh MLS Cup against the New England Revolution on Sunday. "You never know if you're going to get back. I think we understand that very clearly."

More than anyone, Donovan understands that. Sunday is his last game.

For the last month, he has lived with the uncertainty of not knowing whether his next game would be his last. In Seattle, the Galaxy went into the half trailing the Sounders 2-0 (2-1 on aggregate) only to recover and win thanks to the away goal it scored in the second half.

"This week has been a little different than the past few," Donovan said, "because I didn't know what was coming next. Now I know."

Four months after announcing he was retiring at the age of 32, the end of his career is here.

"I gave myself a few days earlier in the week to understand the finality of it," he said. "Now it's a game, and we're at home playing for a championship. We're all so programmed now to just play the next game, and that's where my mindset is right now.”

Donovan says the week leading up to MLS Cup has been fun, and he wants to carry that attitude over to MLS Cup on Sunday, the Galaxy's record ninth final.

“I’ve been very excited to wake up every day and go to training,” he said. “Candidly, I don’t want it to end right now."

Does that mean Donovan wants to continue to playing? "Highly doubtful," was his response.

What would it take to convince him to return? His teammate, Robbie Keane, jumped in and joked, "Give him $20 million." And the Irishman added, "I'll take half."
9 comments about "Donovan reluctantly faces the end".
  1. Allan Lindh, December 6, 2014 at 12:28 p.m.

    Here's even money that Roberto Martinez talks him into helping our Everden starting in January. He played well there, and was well liked. Coming off the bench he could inject some movement and intelligence into an attack that is often sluggish.

  2. beautiful game, December 6, 2014 at 1:39 p.m.

    Allan; let's be frank; LD is not the player he was. Besides, he wants to retire, he's burned out; and his total commitment has been questionable for some time, especially since his recent sabbatical. Martinez or any other coach would be crazy to lure in something other than a hungry player.

  3. Ridge Mahoney, December 6, 2014 at 7:27 p.m.

    He's still under contract to the Galaxy he can't play for any other team anyway.

  4. steve sesio, December 6, 2014 at 7:56 p.m.

    Going out on top would be the perfect ending. As for him retiring at 32. He is still a top player who should have been on the WC squad. Leaving while he is still a top player a good way to be remembered. Also he will now become the well known US National rep for the MLS in some form.
    I would bet we will likely see him on ESPN or FS1 or both as those are the two networks that have the rights to MLS and US Soccer.
    Putting him in the studio taking the place of alexis Lalas gives the MLS a huge injection. No young fans now know who Lalas is. Donavan and the Nationa has grown up with the MLS

  5. Lou vulovich, December 6, 2014 at 8:07 p.m.

    I think LD is the best player this country has produced to date. He has been criticized for being an underachiever most of his career which is really a compliment as people felt he could have done more with his talent, everyone criticized him for not being more selfish on the field and taking matters into his own hands, he just was not that type of player, it suited him fine to be 2nd 3d 4th option. Now that he is retiring he gets criticized for being selfish taking sabbaticals and retiring early. Landon can't win. Wish him well, proud to have had an American player like him.

  6. beautiful game, December 7, 2014 at 11:26 a.m.

    Steve S., we already have too many unqualified ex-MLS players doing TV commentary. LD would be a bad addition behind the mike; that is, if he really cared to do it.

  7. Lou vulovich, December 7, 2014 at 12:18 p.m.

    What do people mean by saying his commitment has been questionable for a while he has been a winner his whole career always one of the fittest players around, never a problems on or off the field.
    If I were the Galaxy I would keep the door wide open. They will miss him for certain.

  8. Edgar Aldana, December 8, 2014 at 12:38 a.m.

    Lou Vulovich, a committed player doesn't take a sabbatical and abandon his team and team mates during WCQ. And no he was not the fittest when player selection came about for the USMNT for this past World Cup as he himself admitted. I'm sure you want to put the blame on JK but do take off your rose colored glasses that you have for Donovan and put blame where blame belongs.

  9. Lou vulovich, December 8, 2014 at 11:04 p.m.

    Ok Edgar, here is my response. I have not blamed JK for anything other than not taking the best player this country to the World Cup in the squad of 26 players. He is consistently one of the fittest players in any game, and even a 12 year old would not need rose colored glasses to know enough to make LD a part of the US national team, I suppose you agree that 18 year old Julian Green was a better choice.

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