With talk of retirement looming, Donovan prepares for what could be an MLS Cup swan song

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

CARSON, Calif.– The inevitable questions came, both in English and Spanish, and Landon Donovan wasted little energy as he shot each question down, one by one.

The topic was Donovan’s future, which had to be expected after hearing for months now that he was burned out, and hearing for weeks now that he was seriously contemplating retirement at the age of 30.

That made the questions fair ones, but Donovan still wanted no part of them. Wearing a thick beard and sporting a blank stare for long stretches, Donovan only wanted to talk about Saturday’s MLS Cup Final and not about the possibility that the match could be the final game for one of the best soccer players in American history.

As much as Beckham’s Galaxy farewell is snatching up a majority of headlines, Donovan’s potential departure is the bigger story for American soccer for a multitude of reasons. From the impact his departure would have on the Galaxy, to the significance of his potential exit from the U.S. national team picture, Donovan’s retirement would have a much more substantial impact on the game in America than Beckham’s exit to parts unknown.

While Donovan has insisted that walking away from the game is a very real possibility, the general consensus around the league is one of disbelief. Could a 30-year-old player who is still one of the best players in MLS really just call it a day?

“There’s been no better player in our league and it would be a shame if he wasn’t playing next season,” said San Jose Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop, who coached Donovan with the Earthquakes and Galaxy. “Obviously his decision’s not made yet. Maybe he just needs to step away and think about everything and then decide.”

Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t quite convinced that Donovan is ready to hang up the boots for good, but he plans on meeting with Donovan soon to discuss the next chapter in his life.

“We had the approach that we would sit down once his season is over and just talk, talk about life, and what you want to do,” Klinsmann said. “I’ll give you my two cents. And see where he’s at. That’s what we’re going to do when he’s done with that game.

“I’m very positive that he’ll continue to play,” Klinsmann said. “It’s his decision. He says it’s both “mental fatigue and physical fatigue”, but it’s up to him what he wants to do.”

Klinsmann has grown accustomed to fielding a team without Donovan, who has missed many of the games since Klinsmann became head coach in 2010, but a retirement would still be a landmark moment because of just how important he has been to the national team for the better part of the past decade.

Donovan will have plenty to think about once the final whistle blows on Saturday night. There is little doubt that he is in dire need of some rest, and some time away from the game, but the reality is there is a chance Saturday’s MLS Cup Final could be his final game.

Not many people actually believe that, but the mere possibility that Saturday’s MLS Cup Final could be Donovan’s final game makes the match a must-see moment. He has done enough in his career, for both club and country, to be considered a legend, even if he ended his career far sooner than anyone could have imagined.

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33 Responses to With talk of retirement looming, Donovan prepares for what could be an MLS Cup swan song

  1. BCC says:

    Ives, do you get the sense that the players on the Galaxy not named Donovan or Beckham have been distracted by all of this?

    Houston has to love the fact that all the attention has been on the other team.

    • QuakerOtis says:

      Not to underestimate LA, but yea, this situation does seem ripe for an “out of nowhere” Houston “upset”. I’m pulling for Quakes 1.0 — Davis, Chingy, Dom and the rest of his Dynamo!

      • Benny Dargle says:

        With Beckham on the team, the rest of the players are used to the media circus and this sort of thing. Doubt it’s much of a real distraction.

      • chris_thebassplayer says:

        Yeah, definitely rooting for Dom and the boys. Should be a nervy tight game.

  2. baropbop says:

    It’s really hard for me to believe that there’s any chance LD won’t be in Brazil. He’s going to be a hippie for a bit and then he’ll be at Everton and back with the USMNT

  3. Clevelandfc says:

    Why did they place this game up against all the college conference games? Some of us like more than one sport.

  4. Miguel Rubio says:

    Big Ives,

    I refuse to drink the Kool-Aid on this whole Landon Donovan retirement thing.

    We just need to let the man breathe and then lead.

    I get it that he feels burned out by the game. Totally understandable because dude has been playing non-stop, at a very high level for the last 13-14+ years. That’s a long ass time, especially for a winger. So I’m sympathetic to whatever’s causing feelings.

    But Landon needs to know that the USMNT is a much, much better team when he’s on the pitch. So when Brazil 2014 rolls around –

    WE ABSOLUTELY NEED HIM THERE.

    He needs to know that.

    Every USMNT supporter (that I know) wants Donovan in the Starting XI because he is a flat-out nasty, nasty footballer. We need his skill, creativity, speed, leadership, endurance, unselfishness, big-play ability, and flat out inspirational play. We need it all.

    If I bump into Landon at my local bodega I’m telling him this –

    (1st) Dude, SICK goal against Algeria – it was one of the top 3 moments of my life. (2nd) When it comes to your plan of attack for the time period of December 2012 – January 2013, here’s what Miguel Rubio suggests -

    Take a ton of time off.

    Go to Indonesia or the Swiss Alps. Take 3 months, 6 months, whatever reasonable amount. Enjoy life – go and get really drunk and really laid with a ton of really hot and intelligent women – multiples at the same time, if you prefer.

    If you feel like playing, then return as soon as you want.

    If you want to hold off a bit longer, hold off a bit longer.

    But sometime around January 2013, I’m gonna need you to be playing for a professional club (anywhere in the world) and getting fit so you can lead us to on a deep run at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

    Landon Donovan – Project Swan Song.

    #LDSwanSong

    (For video to the Donovan Algeria Goal – hit the link and scroll a bit link to goo.gl)

    • Andrew says:

      Agreed. Donovan has talked about burnout several times before. Each time, it’s been after going two or three years without a break due to national team commitments and loans to Europe. Each time, he’s taken a full offseason break and then come back as committed as ever. I assume this is what’s going to happen again.

    • Dan says:

      I agree that its a bit burnout, a bit poor me crap, and a bit ‘why is Deuce getting the glory & big contract.’ He constantly praises the club & fans at Everton and could easily see him working out a deal with the EPL. He no longer needs to be the US Soccer poster-boy to promote the sport and just needs to go play at the highest-level surrounded by thousands of drinking, chanting, singing lunatic Brits that live and breathe the game…just as the players do (no offence west coast – you’re close…but not the same)

    • KevMan says:

      Great advice Miguel, I think a long break may be just what Landon needs

  5. Zack says:

    Jurgen Klinsmann became the US coach in 2011, not 2010.

  6. Vic says:

    If I were Beckham I would go to PSG in January. Beckham can win a French title with PSG, that would give him titles in 5 different countries. Has to be a record.

  7. tyson red7 says:

    one thing’s for sure, it wont hurt the ratings with all this possible “last MLS game” talk

  8. bb says:

    Don’t go Landon, America needs you!

  9. Henry (Hal) says:

    given the added story-lines with it being Beckham’s last game and possibly Donovan’s last game, what would be an acceptable TV rating?

    Last year’s final between LA and Houston got a 0.8

  10. Andy says:

    Donovan’s not going anywhere. I don’t buy it.

  11. Pedro says:

    Bruce Arena’s take would be interesting. He’s had Donovan for a lot of games, sometimes in unhappy situations.

    Speak IL Bruce!

  12. Mike says:

    I think this is gamesmanship on donovans part. I think he has wanted a permanent move to Everton for 2 years now and the MLS has blocked it with above market asking prices. I do think he is serious about retirement though…retirment from the MLS! I think he wants to take 8 weeks off then join everton on the last day of the transfer period and start training again.

    If the MLS doesn’t lower their price I think donovan will just wait them out. Thats what i would do, it’s his only option if he’s serious about moving to europe.

    He’ll be on the USA mens team in Brazil…You can book that..he also will still be our best player on the pitch with bradley, dempsey and altidore on his heels.

    • Hal says:

      He could gone to Everton after his first loan spell no? Instead he signed a new contract with LA.

      • Edwin in LA says:

        That’s not even close to being right….he signed a 2 year extension and got a raise for the remaining 2 years in his, at-the-time current contract and that happened in December 2008 and then went on loan to Bayern Munich in January of 09 and he went to Everton the 1st time in January of 2011 so yeah…..you’re of by a year and 1 month….

  13. NJ Guy No Longer Stuck in DC says:

    Sheesh, another article about Brett Favre and retirement?

  14. BriaK says:

    If Landon were to call me and ask for my advice ;-) this is what I would say to him,….

    1. You have been playing full tilt since you were 16,…you have never had major time on the sideline due to injury,…so yes,….you need a break after 14 years.

    2. You have had a great run with MLS and have done the league a great service. Nit is time to move on.

    3. After MLS Cup today walk away from the Galaxy and MLS and don’t touch a soccer ball from December 2, 2012 to June 30, 2013. That is 7 months.

    4. Take seven months to walk the earth,….to quote Jules from Pulp Fiction,….” like Caine in Kong-Fu, walk from place to place, met people and get in adventures.”

    5. After seven months,…go back to Everton,…sign a nice three year deal and play in the EPL in 2013-2014,….and the World Cup in Brazil.

    Your welcome! Good luck! LD! Peace.

  15. el paso tx wants NASL says:

    I think donovan should shut up and be a pro. If he keeps playing, I say make a move to australia with becks since donovan is a australia lover, or go to everton. Another idea should be donovan to make a move within MLS, which will take MLS to another level, just like lebron james did in the nba and deon sanders with niners and cowboys. What about going to the mexican league which is trying to copy the mls by signing fancy dps.

  16. beachbum says:

    Play great today Landon and let the chips fall where they will. one minded focus today, then whatever happens after that happens.

    no matter what I think it’s clear the guy needs a break and deserves one.

    once the above are done, then we can all find out what’s up going forward, including LD, my opinion

  17. Memo Bandera says:

    I want to see him sign with Mexican club America. Donovan is huge in Mexico and I think he could bring Club America a championship.