USA and MLS legend, Landon Donovan, will retire from professional soccer at the end of the 2014 season, leaving behind not just an impressive array of records but a legacy which will last long after those records belong to another.
Donovan's 14th season in MLS will, therefore, be his last. Whichever your club and whatever your colors, his is a career worth noting and certainly worth celebrating.
Colorado Rapids fans can catch what may be the last glimpse of Donovan when LA Galaxy come to Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Wednesday, August 20 (TICKETS). He will be joined by other stars, such as Omar Gonzalez and Robbie Keane.
"I think it'll be a great opportunity to send off one of the true greats of the game here in the States, albeit with a defeat from here," Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni told ColoradoRapids.com. "But obviously, being aware of all the great things that he's brought to the sport, (we'd like to) provide a great environment, for a great game, for a great player."
Donovan began his professional career when he signed with Bundesliga side Bayer 04 Leverkusen in 1999, where he went on to make 28 appearances and score nine goals before he was loaned to MLS with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2001. He joined his hometown club in Los Angeles in 2005, since when he has also had loan spells at Bayern Munich and Everton.
He leads the U.S. men’s team in goals (57) and assists (57) and is the only American player to surpass both 50 goals and assists in his career. His 156 appearances are second-most all time in U.S. history.
Donovan, 32, has scored an MLS-record 138 goals and recorded 124 assists to date. He is a winner of five MLS Cups, a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and two MLS Supporters’ Shields. Individually, he has been named to an MLS record 14 consecutive MLS All-Star games, the MLS Best XI six times, the MLS MVP and won the Golden Boot, as well as being the only two-time MLS Cup MVP winner.
Mastroeni - who played alongside Donovan with the national side, and briefly when at the Galaxy last season - paid this tribute on hearing of Donovan's decision to retire.
"He's really brought soccer into the limelight here in the United States of America. I think he's been one of the most influential players, not only of our time but of all American soccer."
Edson Buddle was a teammate when the Galaxy won the Supporters' Shield in 2010 and the MLS Cup in 2012. He was also one of the first to celebrate with Donovan when the legend netted a late, late winner against Algeria, which took the USMNT through to the round of 16 at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
"With a career like his, where he's played so many games, his body's been through a lot," Buddle told ColoradoRapids.com. "So I'm pretty sure that it's hard for him to motivate himself after seeing so much soccer and achieving so much.
"It's been an honor to play with him. I've known him for a long time and to see him maintain such a high level is remarkable. I wish him all the best."
Mastroeni added: "As Dr. Seuss says, 'don't cry because it's over, but smile cause it happened'."
Join us at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on August 20 to help pay tribute to Landon Donovan, but also to cheer the Rapids on to what would be a second home win this season over the Galaxy.