His beloved Los Angeles Galaxy sent up a distress signal and after a bit of thought and a serious sit down with coach Bruce Arena, Landon Donovan answered that call; announcing on Thursday that he is ending his near two year retirement.
A recent injury glut along with the departure of Nigel De Jong to Turkey left the Galaxy in a bit of lurch and the comeback became a possibility when, as Donovan described it, a Galaxy staffer “jokingly asked if I was ready to make a return to the field to help fill some of the void left by the injuries and departures.”
Donovan last lined out in a competitive match in L.A’s 2-1 2014 MLS Cup Championship Match win over New England, ending his career, or so we all thought, with his sixth league championship; a personal record Donovan is now hoping to add to.
Donovan’s final season was a controversial one, highlighted of course by Jurgen Klinsmann’s still controversial decision to exclude him from the World Cup side that represented the U.S. in Brazil, but that MLS Cup and his impressive contributions to it allowed Donovan to bow out with a smile on his face.
Now that the comeback is official the question remaining to be answered is: What does the all-time U.S. MNT and MLS leader in goals and assists have left and can the Galaxy use him?
We can’t know until Donovan steps between the white lines in his new number 26 Galaxy jersey- 26 in honor of his son Talon’s birthday. Donovan is expected to be available to Bruce Arena for the Galaxy’s home game versus Orlando on Sunday, September 11, so we won’t have too long to wait for answers.
Donovan most directly figures as a replacement for Gyasi Zardes and if he hasn’t lost too much while sitting up in the broadcast booth he figures to slot into the Galaxy attack on Gio Dos Santos’ opposite wing and should combine with Dos Santos and Robbie Keane to ignite the Galaxy offense.
Donovan says in his statement: “I know this won’t be received well by everyone.” While the savvy Donovan is likely correct in his assessment, the majority of the American soccer community will welcome Donovan back with open arms and given what the 34-year-old has meant to both the U.S. MNT and to Major League Soccer, that is entirely as it should be.