The Reign of A LegenD Comes to an End

There is no doubt of the greatest soccer player to ever come from the United States. He is quick and sharp, fast and fluent, and is usually the shortest on the field at all times. He is the United States Men’s National Team’s top goal scorer of all time. He is the most decorated and praised player in our country today. Landon Donovan has played the game for more than 15 years professionally, and his time in the spot light is coming to an end.
Donovan was a member of the inaugural class at the United States Soccer’s full time residency program at the IMG Academy. There, he played in the FIFA U-17 World Championship and was awarded the Golden Ball for being the tournament’s best player. In the short two years playing for the U-17 team, Donovan scored 35 goals in just 41 games.
In 1999, Donovan signed a six-year contract with the German club Bayer Leverkusen, the chance of a lifetime for an aspiring 17-year-old soccer phenomenon. Because he was having trouble adjusting to German culture and being too far away from his family back in California, Donovan was loaned to the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer for the 2001 season. Almost as if it were planned, Donovan became the white horse coming to save the day, leading the Earthquakes to MLS Cup championships in 2001 and 2003. He became the one thing the team desperately needed: a young, recognizable superstar on the field.

Donovan made his way on the United States Men’s National Team for the 2002 World Cup in South Korea. In the tournament, Donovan raked up two goals and two assists, which helped him be named the “Best Young Player” of the tournament.
By 2003, with only four years under his belt, he had scored 42 goals and had 35 assists in league play. Donovan became the first man to be named United States Soccer Athlete of the Year for three years in a row in 2004. He returned to Germany and Leverkusen in 2005, but only appeared in seven games before he realized Major League Soccer was his home. With his contract up and San Jose unable to resign Donovan, his hometown team Los Angeles Galaxy scored the top player one week before the regular season started.
With the next World Cup approaching in 2006, many United States fans looked to Donovan to take them all the way. Going into the tournament, the United States were ranked fourth in the world, a ranking this generation has never seen from their team. They were expected to improve their run from 2002, but unfortunately, the United States fell out of the tournament when they could not advance out of group stages.
In his time with LA Galaxy, Donovan would go on to help them grasp two MLS Cups, totaling up to four in his career. In the 2008 season, Donovan left his mark when he had 20 goals and nine assists in 25 games, with the help of English superstar David Beckham. He became the all-time leading goal scorer in LA Galaxy history in 2010.
The 2010 World Cup was arguably the most emotional and thrilling part of Donovan’s career. The USMNT had drawn against England and Slovenia, and needed to pull out a win against Algeria in the final match in their group to advance. In literally the last seconds of extra time, Donovan pulls off a miracle. A pass to Clint Dempsey, who then shoots. Ball is blocked by the goalie. And here comes Donovan. Drills it in the lower left 90 of the net. The United States erupts. People crying. Dancing in the streets. Complete madness overtakes the country as the USMNT wins their World Cup group and advance. Even though the United States are defeated in a heartbreaking match against Ghana, Donovan remained the US hero. His two goals in this tournament made him the highest scoring American man in World Cup history.
Donovan’s Game-Winning Goal Vs Algeria
Donovan does not end up making the roster for the 2014 USMNT, mainly in part for the time off he took back in 2012 where he missed three international games. He announced his retirement in August of 2014 from the game that has been his entire life. He will make his final run with the LA Galaxy to try and bring home one more MLS Cup for his home state, something only a LegenD is capable of doing.

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