Landon Donovan says “Farewell to USA” tonight

Filed under: US Soccer |

Landon Donovam (Photo: Nigel G. Worrall)

Landon Donovan will play his last game for the USA tonight as he captains them against Ecuador in East Hartford, Connecticut. In largely an unprecedented move for the International game, Donovan gets to make his exit on his terms as his retirement from the International game is being stage managed like no other player before him.

Tonight’s game will bring to an end the international career of arguably one of the greatest US players of the modern era. The real truth of that sentence will no doubt be debated and reflected on for the next few years as the football world looks back on his career.

Depending on who you talk to, Donovan is the player who reinvented US Soccer or was simply the guy who failed to truly test himself on the better league stages around the globe. Given the honors he collected and the records he set in the United States, the player stayed stubbornly clear of other recognized benchmarks such as establishing himself as a key player in one of  Europe’s leagues.

Scoring goals in the US, as the game was attempting to reclaim its fallen spot, undoubtedly helped grow the sport and to establish Major League Soccer once and for all. However, many a soccer pundit will always question why the guy with five World Cup final goals never really sought to test himself on a bigger stage consistently.

Sure, he had spells with Bayer Leverkusen (7 games), Bayern Munich (6 games), and Everton (17 games) but questions will always remain why he chose to spend the majority of his career at LA Galaxy in a relatively weaker league than his talent potentially cried out for. Was it a calculated decision to make himself a big fish in a small pond or was it because he didn’t have enough real ability or confidence in himself ?

Ironically, it was at Bayern where Donovan briefly worked with the man who would later prematurely end his international career by dropping him from the 2014 World Cup squad.  A certain Jürgen Klinsmann.

We will probably never know the real reasons that Klinsmann failed to take Donovan to this year’s World Cup in Brazil but tonight’s game gives us a strong feeling that the US Soccer hierarchy have orchestrated his exit as some kind of public apology for his treatment.

In any event we wish him well. It’s always sad when a player that the public is fond of comes to retire and this is no different. After tonight Donovan will resume LA Galaxy’s push for a third MLS Cup in four years and then he’ll get his fairytale domestic farewell. Perhaps, all things considered, the man who has to date played 156 times and scored 57 goals for the USA  is due some credit. Tonight the fans and the game gets chance to say “Thank You” for the service he has given his country. Should be fun to watch…particularly if he scores!

The game is on ESPN at 7pm EST.

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