Tonight at 6:00 CST on ESPN, Landon Donovan will suit up for the US Men’s National Team a final time. This match against Ecuador in Hartford, CT, will feature mostly younger, fringe-type players due to MLS’s proximity to the play-offs. But Landon will be there, for about 30 minutes or so, according to the media.
Don’t be surprised if he scores or assists in that time. He may be about to retire, but at 32 he still has a lot to offer – among the MLS leaders for assists this season – still capable of that burst of speed or game-changing play. And as the USA’s career goal scoring and assists leader, as the face of the sport in this country as MLS has grown to legitimacy and more Americans have embrace soccer, you’re going to hear a lot of gushing on the broadcast, ESPN, and elsewhere.
For a lot of folks in my peer group, Landon’s career has coincided with our fandom. He was the up-and-comer after the 1998 World Cup, on the big stage in Korea, and the guy at the top of the other team’s clipboard for the next twelve years. We wanted him in Brazil this summer, and I still believe we could have done better down there with LD in the 10 shirt.
A lot of bloggers and media folks have been reflecting on Landon’s career – here’s a good one. And US Soccer has done a nice youtube compilation (below), with key moments from this long career. Unfortunately they couldn’t spring for the World Cup footage, so everyone’s two favorites – the goal against Mexico in 2002 and the last-gasp winner over Algeria in 2010 aren’t in there (boo).
Two aspects of LD’s game we’ve always enjoyed and respected, and that we’ll always remember: the unselfishness and ability to see and make the right play, and the devastating quickness with the ball. This guy’s the reason my son wears the 10-shirt… Thanks, Landon.