Soccer in America is not considered to be on the same level as the other major sports in the country. American football rules all major ratings, followed by basketball, baseball, and hockey. Soccer, for the longest time, has not even been considered one of the major sports here in America. That is an odd fact considering for a vast majority of kids in this country, soccer is the very first sport they ever play. In a sport that may not be as popular as the others, one star has risen above those ranks and cemented his legacy in US sports history. LA Galaxy superstar Landon Donovan will play his final game tonight.
Hockey has Wayne Gretzky, Basketball has Michael Jordan, Baseball has Babe Ruth, football has Jerry Rice, and at least for the US, soccer has Donovan. Donovan is the all time leader in goals and assists for Major League Soccer, as well as the US National team. After helping the Galaxy win their last MLS title two years ago, Donovan stepped away from the game for awhile. That decision not only cost him his spot as captain for the Galaxy, but it also cost him his spot on the national team in what would have been his fourth World Cup.
Donovan has recently shared that his three months away from soccer was not so much exhaustion or being burnt out, rather depression. Donovan stated that many people deal with periods of depression in their life. He later stated that he has been seeing a therapist for over six years. “There are many people, famous or not, who have dealt with issues like this.” At age 32 Donovan will play his final game tonight in a friendly game against Ecuador. He is only expected to play about 30 minutes in the match up.
After Donovan lost his spot on the US national team, he earned his way back on; only to be cut weeks before the World Cup by coach Juergen Klinsmann. The two have not seen eye to eye, and tension has been high since the relationship began. Klinsmann has said that as a coach he wants to see a player always give 100% all the time. “I’m looking at Landon, and I wish he could have done a bit more here and there.”
Donovan looks to get back to focusing on helping the Galaxy win its third MLS cup in the last four years. The Galaxy are even with the Seattle Sounders for the playoffs, and both teams have clinched a playoff birth. The Sounders are 19-9-3, and the Galaxy are 17-5-9. The two teams are tied for first with 60 points scored through 31 games.
When he was asked what he will do with his retirement Donovan stated that he would like to travel more. He said that he may go to college; because that is something that playing soccer his whole life has prevented him from doing until now.
Rather it was the depression or the tensions between player and coach, one thing is certain and that tonight in Connecticut one of the US National team’s brightest stars will play his final game for them, as Landon Donovan takes a bow and steps away.
Commentary by Andy Lapic
Photo by Noelle Noble –Flickr License