Landon Donovan May be Pondering Retirement, But his LA Galaxy are Playing Like Champions in the MLS Cup Playoffs
Four months ago the LA Galaxy were in terrible shape. The team wasn’t clicking and thoughts of a MLS Cup Championship repeat were fading fast as the team continued to lose game after game. Since August however, the Galaxy have been on a tear, and have since ambushed the MLS Cup Playoffs by defeating the top seeded team, the San Jose Earthquakes. Now they are a single game from reaching their second straight MLS Cup Final and need to hold onto a 3-0 lead over the Seattle Sounders in their second leg match in Seattle.
All this has happened amidst the injuries and contemplative thoughts of Landon Donovan, the face of American soccer for the past decade. Donovan recently had an interview with ESPN where he questioned his love of the game, and refused to say whether he would play in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil because he may retire before then.
The thought of Donovan quitting the game when he is just 30 years old is rather strange, but actually does show some logic when you consider the amount of soccer games he has played in the past few seasons. Already having represented the United States in three straight World Cups, Donovan has accumulated nearly 150 appearances for the national team.
In the MLS, he has played nearly 200 games for the LA Galaxy, and had played 87 for the San Jose Earthquakes. But most costly have been his loan moves to England during the MLS offseason in both 2010 and 2012. Playing for Everton has been a grand achievement for Landon Donovan. The EPL is the world’s highest level of club football, and Donovan played in fascinating fashion. He was seemingly built for English “football” with his fast paced and direct style of play. He succeeded, and earned an Everton Player of the Month award in 2010.
However, the endless games have now caught up with Donovan. Players need to take breaks from the game of soccer. For Landon Donovan, those breaks came not from relaxing off-seasons but from frustrating injuries that he has endured at a high rate this year. These injuries have cost him many games, including several important World Cup qualifiers for the national team. The USA barely scraped by in their third round qualification group, and will need a fit Landon Donovan for the final stage of qualification that will include matches against Costa Rica, Mexico, and Honduras, all teams capable of beating America.
And so I can understand why Donovan is feeling so down at the moment. But, in spite of all this pain and anguish, the star player has been an absolute joy to watch for the LA Galaxy in these playoffs. He has linked up with Robbie Keane for several goals, has scored a few of his own, and his team looks the most likely to win the 2012 MLS Cup crown. Perhaps another success for his club will help Donovan to take a break from soccer with happy memories, and will re-inspire him to continue playing, at least through the next World Cup. We can only hope, as a player seemingly still at the height of his game is surely needed by his country.