Landon Donovan To Make Final Appearance For USMNT
Photo Courtesy of @LAGalaxy
The United States Soccer Federation and USSF President Sunil Gulati issued a statement earlier on Tuesday that Landon Donovan would make one final appearance for the United States Men’s National Team on American soil when they square off with Ecuador on October 10th in East Hartford, Connecticut. The 32-year-old Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder announced his retirement from soccer at the end of the current Major League Soccer season about three weeks ago.
“For 15 years, Landon has thrilled us with his amazing abilities on the field and impressed us with his gracious approach off the field. We are looking forward to celebrating his legacy during our next home National Team match and allowing fans the opportunity to thank him for all the memories he’s provided over the years.”
~U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, Courtesy of www.ussoccer.com
There is no doubt that Donovan is the most accomplished American player to ever wear the Red, White and Blue. He is in the top two in each of the three major international soccer statistical categories. Donovan is second in appearances with 156 over his 15-year career, that mark is eclipsed only by former Galaxy midfielder Cobi Jones with 164 between 1992 and 2004.
Landon does hold the top spot in both goals and assists for the National Team by pretty significant margins. He has scored 57 goals for the USMNT; an 18 goal lead over Clint Dempsey with 39. The difference in assists is even higher as Donovan has 58 assists while Cobi Jones sits in second with 22; the closest active player is DaMarcus Beasley with 13.
This is a very classy move by the USSF to show appreciation for a departing superstar. It was unclear whether the fans would ever see Landon Donovan in a National Team shirt after he was left off of the 2014 FIFA World Cup squad by manager Jurgen Klinsmann. That omission set off a firestorm of criticism among some American soccer fans who questioned the managerial abilities of Klinsmann regarding that decision. Those same fans were equally joyous after the United States advanced from the Group of Death so take from that what you will.
One of the interesting observations from this announcement today was the lack of a quote from Klinsmann in the U.S. Soccer press release. You would think that the current manager would have some sort of portion in the article to say his feelings. Klinsmann though, did take to Twitter and said, “Awesome that all @ussoccer fans will have the chance to show appreciation for Landon Donovan’s amazing #USMNT career on 10/10 in Hartford !!”
It seems, looking at this story from all angles that the decision was not made by the manager but by the Federation. There is no reason why they should not celebrate the achievements of Donovan but fans should not forget about the bad as well as the good.
Along with being the greatest goal scorer in the history of American soccer he is also the man who took a sabbatical after the 2012 Major League Soccer season citing “physical and mental fatigue.” That is all fine and dandy but Donovan was 30-years-old, in the prime of his career and just abandoned the National Team as they were preparing for the final round of World Cup Qualifying. How could Klinsmann ever trust that Donovan would not abandon the team again when the going got tough? There is no doubt in this writer’s mind that was the biggest reason behind Donovan being left off of the team.
Putting all of that aside, it will be nice to see Donovan get one more match in the Red, White and Blue before hanging up his cleats permanently. The match will be shown nationally on ESPN starting at 7 pm ET on October 10th.
Matthew Evans is an editor and writer for Stoppage Time Soccer. “Like” him on Facebook, Follow him on Twitter, or add him to your network on Google
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