If we’re being honest with ourselves, we knew that Landon Donovan’s retirement was a long time coming.
With Landon Donovan, there have always been very few secrets. His candidness, his realness, his humanness is legendary among American soccer circles.
After his sabbatical at the beginning of last year, how long did we really expect Donovan to continue playing?
When Jurgen Klinsmann – who tellingly hasn’t said a word on Donovan’s retirement as accolades have poured in from countless players and people including his boss Sunil Gulati – cut Donovan from the US World Cup squad, there was a kind of fury on Donovan’s behalf that was unprecedented in his long and storied career.
This week, as he announces his retirement effective at the end of the LA Galaxy’s 2014 MLS season, there is only resignation.
This is the hero we got. Donovan opened so many doors, had so many incredible moments, and deserves so much respect, more for his off-field behavior than his on-field accolades, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
There was always more than soccer to Donovan. It drove some people crazy – a superstar athlete without a one-track mind. But it’s always struck me as very admirable. Donovan is his own man. He has never let the sport that made him famous define him. Now, he leaves on his own terms.
I only hope Donovan doesn’t have any regrets about the timing of his departure. In recent times, as Donovan has lit up MLS for the LA Galaxy and returned, in a broad sense, to the menace he was in the first part of this decade, he has seemed to be truly and thoroughly enjoying his soccer.
By leaving now, Donovan exits on top of his game. He’s still an unquestionably elite player.
We’ll never see Donovan’s soccer powers wilt, and although he’s not physically what he once was, there is still today possibly no one in MLS you’d rather start a team with than Donovan.
But Donovan has never been a regrets kind of guy. There certainly is a world beyond soccer, especially for a star of Donovan’s stature, and he’s excited to discover it.
The signs were there in Portland that Donovan was saying goodbye. Because LA plays San Jose in the California Classico on Friday, the other LA All-Stars Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez opted out of the game.
Donovan said there was never any question that he would play. In hindsight, he wasn’t about to miss his last All-Star game.