Donovan likely to play in last World Cup in 2014

Landon Donovan

Photo by ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

Landon Donovan has been the face of the U.S. Men’s National Team at the last three World Cups, but his next one in that role will likely be his last.

Donovan told ESPNFC.com that this upcoming summer’s World Cup in Brazil likely represents his final chance of playing in the prestigious tournament. Donovan will be 36 by the time the 2018 edition in Russia rolls around, so it was always suspected that Brazil 2014 would serve as his last hurrah in a World Cup.

“It’s hard for me to imagine, sitting here, that I’ll be able to walk in four years, much less play soccer,” said Donovan. “So I would guess that this is my last chance of making a World Cup.”

While Donovan gave no indication as to if he would retire from international soccer after Brazil 2014, he would not completely rule out playing in the next one in Russia.

“You never know,” said the 31-year-old LA Galaxy Designated Player. “We’ll see, but if it is (my last Word Cup), I want to make sure that it’s very enjoyable and I take advantage of it.”

Donovan made an impressive World Cup debut at the age of 20 back in 2002 as the Americans reached the quarterfinals in South Korea/Japan, but struggled to replicate that kind of form at the tournament in Germany four years later when the U.S. crashed out in the group stage.

The veteran bounced back in a big way, however, with three goals in four matches in South Africa 2010, including a memorable stoppage-time winner vs. Algeria that saved the U.S. from elimination and pushed them into the Round of 16.

Donovan has been an every-game starter in his three World Cups, but whether the U.S. all-time leader in goals and assists will be considered as such on the current squad is a bit unclear given how deep it is.

“Personally, I realize very clearly the competition involved,” said Donovan. “More likely than not I will be used as a midfielder in some way, and there’s a lot of midfielders pushing for a few spots in the wide positions.”

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How saddened are you by the news that Brazil 2014 could very well be Donovan’s last World Cup? Could you envision a 38-year-old Donovan playing in Russia? Think he will be a starter this summer?

Share your thoughts below.

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47 Responses to Donovan likely to play in last World Cup in 2014

  1. biff says:

    I see Donovan becoming a coach, and a darn good one. Don’t see him playing in Russia in 2018.

    • Scott says:

      I don’t see him as a coach. I see him taking a more reclusive lifestyle when he steps down from professional soccer. He has always struck me as a very private person and really doesn’t care for the spotlight that much.

      Only LD can answer the question of what comes next.

      • Mr. O says:

        This is exactly what was in my mind. I think he disappears from the spotlight and only turns up when the anniversary rolls around to celebrate the US winning the 2014 World Cup……..

    • Anton says:

      Donovan couldn’t handle the pressure of playing much less coaching.

    • Maykol says:

      I think hes said that a job in the media (like twelman or lalas) is his future, not coaching

  2. Vic says:

    Who knows. We’ve seen Giggs playing at a high level at 40, Scholes, Beckham, Henry and many others played well in their mid-30s. Donovan is lightning quick, even if he loses a step, he will still be fast. He’s also a world class playmaker so I wouldn’t count out 2016. However, not surprised by these comments, Donovan has always been very modest.

  3. blokhin says:

    I thought Donovan had a shot at 2018 as a 36 year old attacking mid playmaker and set-piece speicalist (because there aren’t enough better options in the pipeline to displace him off the roster, if not the starting line-up) and 200+ caps, becoming the most capped international player ever for any country, but he had clearly burned out in 2012/2013 and unlikely to grind through for another 4 years.

    he has played enough soccer and done eonugh for USMNT to let it go- but having seen so many athletes get ready to give up their sport only to attempts comebacks (MJ, Magic, Clemens, Favre, etc..) -who knows.

    I hope that the USMNT has enough options at its disposal that a 36 year old LD is deemed surplus to requirements, but that youth pipeline is not producing much except for getting players raised in other systems to file one-time switches at this point…. weren’t Renken, Jerome, Gyau, Gil, etc due to be regular contributors by now? today we’re talking about a different bunch of young prospects but so few of them actually materialze…

    • CeezNYRB says:

      Someone doesn’t watch the youth teams…

    • user222 says:

      I agree…

      We need LD for Copa America Centennial tournament to be played in USA in 2016.

      After that he needs to take a year off between 2016-2018, even if he doesn’t make it to WC 2018 he can still help us qualify for it… he just love beating them mexicans.

      Landon is an athlete, at 35-36 with proper rest his body can regen and be ready for 2018, question is, will his heart/head be ready.

  4. Gerard D. says:

    This is like telling your boss you quit after he fires you. Dude, you weren’t playing in the next World Cup anyways.

  5. joshw says:

    Around the time of the Gold Cup and until he injured his ankle, he was by far the best attacking player on the team. He may not be as fast over longer distances in 4 years, but he will still be quick, read the game well, have an excellent first touch and strike the ball better than anyone else. If he wants it and he’s healthy, there’s not reason he couldn’t be a super-sub in Russia. A 36 year old Donovan would make the team for Brazil, no doubt.

    • Annelid Gustator says:

      ” He may not be as fast over longer distances in 4 years, but he will still be quick”

      This is not usually the order of capability loss with age.

      • joshw says:

        What you say may be true in most cases, but Donovan looks like a guy who will be relatively quick even when he’s 40.

  6. JoHo says:

    Extremely saddened. How will I be able to sleep at night?!

  7. beto says:

    “It’s hard for me to imagine, sitting here, that I’ll be able to walk in four years, much less play soccer,”

    – thats a good career! He is either going to sprinting or limping across the finish line after a lenghty career. I bet he sticks around for the Gold Cup in 2015 or maybe the 2016 Copa or Olympics, retiring before the next WC Cycle.

  8. Josh D says:

    The title needs a bit of work. As written, it seems like there are more than one World Cup in 2014…

    As for the news itself: Donovan lost his soccer heart a year ago, and although he’s back, it’s not. He’s still a fine player, and one of our best, but he’s not at the same level. I’m not sure what he’ll do after. He doesn’t seem like the coaching type.

    • beachbum says:

      lost his soccer heart? Josh D, all the evidence is against you on this. Did you see his rebirth this summer at the Gold Cup? Hardly a guy with no heart which I know disappointed the masses who so badly wanted LD to vanish. He didn’t tho, that’s just the reality

      • 2487 says:

        to be fair, he was playing against minnows. This WORLD CUP is the perfect opportunity for him to show “his heart” and whether he “has lost it or not”

        • beachbum says:

          against minnows, Really? gee, thanks for the news flash?

          I get who he was playing against. But JoshD said he lost his soccer heart…this summer showed the exact opposite. Period.

          we’ll see what happens this summer.

    • Big Chil says:

      Well, to be fair, the last World Cup of the Year will be the June one.

  9. JayAre says:

    I feel like this is something we all knew

  10. 2487 says:

    he’s old. if he’s playing in russia 2018

    then we have flopped at a nation. He hit his peak in 2010. we barely need him for 2014

    • slowleftarm says:

      Don’t underestimate Landon, we need him in Brazil.

    • the original jb says:

      I wish that were true. But I think even though he has lost some explosiveness, he is still our best all around attacking player. I think Bradley and Altidore are the two most important pieces of the 2014 puzzle, but Howard, Dempsey, and Donovan will all have to show up in their best form for us to get results against the teams in our group.

  11. michael f. sbi mafia original says:

    It’s always been about desire when it coms to Donovan. Or lack there of. I remember him saying, in essence, he’s rather live in Cali with his (then) wife and dogs than challenge himself in Europe. Nothing wrong with that I guess, but I just feel he is without a doubt the best hats player ever and he could have been even so much more. He won the golden boot in the Under 20 WC. Anyway, I’m rambling. If he wants it, he could easily start in Russia. IMHO. He’s saying the right things but but if JK doesn’t start him in every game in Brazil we’ll crash out ever faster than everyone is predicting.

  12. isaf says:

    why aren’t guys like Reyna or Friedel or McBride or Wynalda or Harkes coaching?

    we need our vets to coach in USL or MLS. it’s not enough to have american players in europe. we need them coaches to follow. we need to show “The world”.

  13. marnsd says:

    anyone still see David Beckham playing for England

    or RAUL for Spain

    or Zidane for France

    yes they are all retired but some might say “so talented, if they were still playing, pick them for our NT”. Donovan is the best we ever had but if he is playing on the NT in 2018, it means our development has failed. we shouldn’t be having guys playing 3-4 world cups (not slighting him as he’s GREAT) but just saying competition should be so tight that even some of our best players get lucky if they’re given 1 world cup much less 3/4.

    just a thought.

  14. marnsd says:

    btw had DONOVAN toughed it out for Leverkusen. could he have been a starter? could he have ever been a world class player in Europe or was it best that he returned to MLS and done that world class performance for the NT?

    look at some players. Wayne Rooney is WORLD CLASS for Man United. He is not world class for England. Donovan is world class for USA, but not for LA GALAXY. kinda like robbie keane was world class when playing for Ireland but was never a world class striker

    did Donovan do more for MLS by playing here or did he hurt the “advancement of Yanks in europe” by staying here? are we committed to growing MLS or the NT?

  15. Brett Son of Douglas says:

    Yeah yeah yeah… we have heard this all before… right before the World Cup in 2018 Donovan will take a sabbatical to Cambodia and then come back fired up for the WC. Never underestimate a good pilgrimage.

  16. Rory Miller says:

    Donovan to play in his last World Cup in 2014.

    In other news, Water is Wet! The Sky is Blue. The obvious things we all know are nice headlines for slow news days.

  17. Gratuitous Stepovers says:

    Cool photo, Landon is a legend! Will be very sad when he retires / can’t hack it anymore, to a generation of American soccer fans, he was the main bamf on our squad, the dude you knew would be there, a lot of times good and sometimes bad. So, I guess I’m just gonna miss seeing him out there when that time comes.