Landon Donovan announced yesterday that he would retire from professional soccer at the end of the MLS season. It is difficult to sum up just how much Donovan means to soccer fans throughout the United States. We could talk about his stellar club career in MLS where he won 1 US Open Cup, 2 Supporters Shields, and 5 MLS Cups.
We could talk about how he was an MLS MVP, a 7 time All Star, a 6 time Best XI, 2 time MLS Cup MVP, or a Golden Boot winner. Heck you could even throw in how beloved he was by his Everton fans while on loan (twice voted their Player of Month).
However it would be a shame to define MLS’ all time leading goal scorer based on just a phenomenal club career. US Soccer Federation showered him with a few honors as well, such as Young Athlete of the Year and their Athlete of the Year, 4 times.
Donovan is the only American player to reach both the 50 goals and 50 assists mark for the national team. He is the all-time leader in both goals and assists for the men’s national team, a mark that shows both how versatile he was at the national level and how important he was to the national team’s success over a stretch of many years.
From his World Cup debut against Portugal in 2002 to his goal against Algeria in 2010 that propelled the United States out of the group stage, Donovan was Captain America. He somehow grew as a player whenever he pulled on that national team shirt and could always be counted on at critical times.
Heck even CONCACAF got into the award vibe with Donovan. While helping to lead the US to 4 Gold Cup titles, he bagged himself 3 Golden Boots, an MVP, and 4 Best XI awards.
Really, though, why sell Donovan short by just mentioning small things like that? Even a corrupt organization like FIFA recognized the ability of an American by handing him the Golden Ball from the U-17 World Cup and recognized him as the Young Player of the World Cup in 2002.
But if we are all going to be honest with ourselves, none of that matters. Are any of us Dynamo fans really going to remember Donovan for any of that? No. We’re going to remember Landon Donovan for one thing, and one thing only: as an opposing goalkeeper against Brian Ching during his Testimonial Match.
Tags: Landon Donovan