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.”
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.