Philadelphia, Pa. – Major League Soccer kicked off its 2015 SuperDraft with a tribute to Landon Donovan, highlighted by the league re-naming its MVP award the Landon Donovan MVP Award.
The tribute featured a video of career highlights and praise from family, teammates and Donovan’s former club and national team coach Bruce Arena.
Sitting in the front of the hotel meeting room, Donovan became emotional, in particular when his family spoke.
Commissioner Garber cited Donovan’s decision to return to the league with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2001 as a catalyst for MLS “becoming a league choice.”
Afterwards, Donovan spoke to a scrum of reporters remembering that he, “fell in love with it (soccer) the first day I started playing.” In an oft told story Donovan’s mother famously sent her hyperactive son out to the soccer fields to burn off some of his plentiful energy.
Now, in his first days of retirement Donovan spends his time, “relaxing. Playing tennis, golf, relaxing.” Asked if he is enjoying it, a smiling Donovan answered, “very much so, loving it.”
Major League Soccer’s all time leader in goals and assists said from the podium, “I love this league,” and commented on how MLS has changed the prospects for young American players.
“We didn’t watch soccer on TV,” it was, Donovan recalled, “just a fun game we played as much as we could.”
Now, all these years later Donovan, long the face of the league, has become the league’s symbol of excellence.