Landon Donovan: Retirement Talk Is Premature Due to a Career Phase
The United States soccer community has been abuzz over the last two days over an interview that Landon Donovan had with ESPN FC's Roger Bennett, in which the Los Angeles Galaxy star said he is considering retirement.
Donovan found himself going from a high in which he had a hat trick against Scotland to barely playing with the national team during the last three months.
Donovan did not perform against Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala due to a knee injury. But Landon's only appearance was a 45-minute cameo in a friendly at Mexico.
There are plenty of things that we can speculate about Donovan and his thoughts on this manner.
We could say that Donovan is like this due to the diminished role he has had with American manager Jurgen Klinsmann. Another thing that we could say is that Donovan does not see a future with the national team due to an influx of young talent.
But this speculation does not contain the answers for the Donovan question.
Over the past two years, Donovan has played more often than any other time in his career. Donovan played in 50 matches across three continents in 2010 and 42 matches in 2011. He has gone on loan twice to Everton during the winter to keep up his match fitness.
During this time, Donovan has had almost no time off and has not faced any major injury concerns. But unlike some other players that may do this while they are in their young 20s, Donovan did this between the ages of 28 and 30, this after playing professionally since he was 16.
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In recent years, Donovan's skills have started to deteriorate, which is customary for players who have played for this long.
A great feature that Donovan possessed for so many years was his speed.
Throughout his career, Donovan has been capable of making long runs, which has provided major dividends.
The most famous goal of Donovan's career, the winner against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup, was due in large part to Donovan's speed. On the goal, Donovan was able to sprint ahead of everyone to start the attack and pounce on the loose ball after Clint Dempsey's shot was denied by the Algerian keeper.
There are other skills that we could say have deteriorated for Donovan, but skill set aside, Donovan's biggest issue may just be a lack of motivation.
Last season, Donovan finally got the Galaxy to complete the double of the MLS Supporters Shield and the MLS Cup.
Donovan rebounded to all criticisms about failed experiences in Europe with two successful loans with Everton. He also made up for his poor performances with U.S. national team in the 2006 World Cup with his sparkling performance in South Africa two years ago.
The accomplishments that Donovan has compiled are tremendous.
But at this stage of his career, there is very little left for him to accomplish.
This was something Klinsmann touched upon, with The Sporting News' Brian Straus, before the Scotland friendly. Klinsmann explained to Straus that he had this happen to him in his career, and he used a change in scenery to continue his career.
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Outside of his loans to England and Germany, Donovan has been with the Galaxy since 2005 and has been in the MLS for every year since 2001.
The option to join Everton is one that could tempt Donovan.
It is hard to see Donovan decide to retire considering he is still performing at a strong level and has a future with the national team. Landon recognizes this, and it probably is unlikely that he will leave, considering that he said that he wanted to play in a fourth World Cup just several months ago.
Whatever the solution may be, Landon will want to continue to participate with the national team. At this stage, the national team still needs to have Donovan's services.
During these four qualifying matches without Donovan, the Yanks went 2-1-1, but they were far from convincing.
The upcoming hexagonal qualifiers will provide plenty of challenges for the U.S.
It would be very surprising to see Donovan turn down the national team, in what could be a critical stretch.
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