For those of us who love playing soccer, regardless of how good or bad we were or at what level we played, this has a nice ring to it.
Landon Donovan, the man who needed at so many points to walk away from the game, couldn’t stay away.
That’s right. Eighteen months after he walked off into the sunset with his sixth MLS Cup in tow, the United States’ greatest ever men’s soccer player is back. Donovan is coming out of retirement and rejoining the LA Galaxy for the stretch-run of the 2016 MLS season.
It’s the story of the season. In case you’ve forgotten how he stacks up, it’s worth noting that Donovan is currently the MLS leader in goals, assists, postseason goals, postseason assists, and MLS Cups won.
The MLS MVP Award? It’s called the Landon Donovan MVP Award. Donovan wasn’t bad on the international stage, either. He stands as the USMNT’s leader in goals, assists, and matches started.
Now, at 34, Donovan rejoins a Galaxy team in sore need of help. In the last two weeks, the Galaxy has seen Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard, and Jelle Van Damme all miss time through injury. Gyasi Zardes is out for the season with a broken ankle.
Beyond the injuries, the Galaxy also sold lightning rod central midfielder Nigel de Jong just before the expiration of the summer transfer window. If ever there was a time for Donovan to return, this was it.
Donovan’s first retirement, if you remember, came when he was 32 years old. He was coming off of a season in which, in the regular season and playoffs combined, he’d scored 13 goals and had 21 assists.
Clearly, he had plenty of soccer left in him. But one of the reasons Donovan was so fascinating – and disliked by so many – is that he was unusual. Soccer and soccer alone never seemed to fulfill Donovan. He knew there was more to life.
In many ways, he seemed like a perfect candidate for retirement. And he was making a good retiree – buying into Swansea City, working on his coaching badges, and doing broadcast work for the Galaxy and on the Copa America for FOX Sports.
But now, with a new wife and a newborn son, he’s experiencing a feeling we all know. He wants to play. There’s nothing like it.