Photo by ISIphotos.com
Landon Donovan is coming back to MLS.
No, that isn't a surprise. Anyone who tracked his loan with Bayern Munich saw his stock take an AIG-like tumble in recent weeks. We all knew he was returning, but what the LA Galaxy's announcement on Thursday did was help bring some sense of calm over what has become a circus-like atmosphere in Galaxy-land thanks to Mr. Posh.
It is easy for some to forget that Donovan has been the most stable part of the Galaxy organization, and has been for years, which is why the Galaxy couldn't wait to let it's fans know that all was not last as David Beckham sat in Italy begging not to come back to MLS.
As much as the whole Beckham fiasco has probably made Galaxy fans more grateful for still having Donovan, the reality is that it is time for Donovan to go to Europe and stay in Europe. Yes, we have heard that before, but the difference now is that Donovan actually wants to go, and he looks ready to make the most of the opportunity.
For all intents and purposes, the 2009 MLS season should serve as Donovan's farewell tour. Forget that whole Beckham coming back at mid-season tour (which has disaster written all over it, if that scenario actually plays out). The upcoming season should be Donovan's last in MLS before he goes and gives Europe one more proper try.
The Bayern Munich loan was anything but your standard move and can't be counted as a legitimate chance for Donovan. As much as Juergen Klinsmann likes Donovan and wanted to give him a chance, the Bayern Munich board was never really interested and the only way Donovan could have changed its mind was with a string of Bundesliga goals.
The goals never came and Donovan never really settled in, even after a promising run-up to the second half of the season. He showed an ability to get involved, and make good decisions, but he never did make an impact and failed to give Klinsmann the ammunition to try and lobby for a transfer.
Does this mean Donovan's chances of ever succeeding in Europe are over? Not in the least. If anything, his time at Bayern has shown us a player far more comfortable on the European stage than the one we saw struggle badly in his second go-round with Bayer Leverkusen. No, Donovan didn't dominate, but he did show glimpses of a player who is better equipped for the move overseas.
That is why 2009 has to be it for Donovan in MLS. He has done more than enough for the league during his career, and after this season he should be given every opportunity to make a permanent move abroad to a club where he will be given a legitimate chance to settle in and become a solid contributor.
Whether Donovan actually succeeds once he goes to Europe isn't the point. What matters is that Donovan has earned the chance to try. He has one more year to help the Galaxy find stability and its first playoff berth in three years, but after that MLS and the Galaxy should make it as easy as possible for Donovan to move on. After years as the only reliable figure in the circus known as the Galaxy, Donovan has earned that right.
What do you think about Donovan's return to MLS? Is it time for him to leave the league? Think he should give up on his European dreams? Do you see him going to Europe next winter and being a star?
Share your thoughts below.
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