Landon Donovan's Top 10 Moments as He Announces His Retirement Plans
For a generation of football fans in the United States, Landon Donovan has represented the maturation process of both his country’s national team and Major League Soccer.
Since his time as a United States Under-17 international, Donovan has provided no shortage of thrills, and many of his greatest moments are also signposts for football in the United States.
Following are 10 of them—goals and performances that have come to define both a person and a country’s football history.
10. 2001 MLS Cup
On the books at Bayer Leverkusen, 19-year-old Landon Donovan was loaned to San Jose Earthquakes in 2001 and promptly helped guide the California club to that year’s Major League Soccer championship. After scoring seven goals during the regular season, he cancelled out Luis Hernandez’s goal in the final as San Jose went on to beat Los Angeles Galaxy 2-1 in extra time.
9. 2011 MLS Cup
The pain of a missed penalty in the MLS final still fresh in his mind after two years, Donovan made amends for his 2009 gaffe with an all-world performance in the 2011 championship match against the Houston Dynamo. In front of his home fans in Carson, California, the now-Los Angeles Galaxy forward scored the only goal as he and teammate David Beckham proceeded to celebrate a memorable triumph.
8. 2012 MLS Cup
The Los Angeles Galaxy successfully defended their MLS Cup title in 2012 against the same Houston Dynamo. With the match knotted at a goal apiece following Omar Gonzalez’s equaliser on the hour-mark, Donovan’s penalty conversion just five minutes later proved the winner as he went on to celebrate a fifth MLS championship.
7. First Premier League Goal for Everton
Donovan’s loan spell at Everton during the winter of 2010 was a successful one, and on January 27 of that year he found the back of the net after 19 minutes against Sunderland. The Toffees went on to win 2-0 at Goodison Park, and Donovan was later named the Premier League club’s Player of the Month.
6. 4 Goals Against Cuba
Donovan won four Gold Cups during his time with the United States national team, but in 2003 the Americans came up short after losing to Brazil in the semi-finals. But Donovan had already made his mark at the tournament with a four-goal performance against Cuba in the quarter-final round.
5. 2007 Gold Cup Final
A Gold Cup winner in 2002 and 2005, Donovan claimed his third North American championship in 2007 following a 2-1 win over archrivals Mexico at Soldier Field in Chicago. He scored the equaliser in that match—a tally that followed up on his winner over Canada in the semi-final.
4. 2003 MLS Cup
Donovan won the second of his five MLS Cups in 2003 when his San Jose Earthquakes side triumphed 4-2 over the Chicago Fire at Home Depot Center. The then-21-year-old bagged a brace in the match—a haul that included a 71st-minute insurance marker.
3. Brace Against Philadelphia Union
By the time he scored a pair of goals against Philadelphia Union last May, Donovan had already been left off United States manager Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The omission very much front of mind, the 32-year-old found the back of the net to establish a new all-time mark of 135 MLS goals before adding a 136th just for good measure.
2. Goal Against Algeria
For many United States Men’s National Team supporters, Donovan’s heroics in Pretoria, South Africa, in 2010 are no doubt among their most cherished football memories. With the Americans needing a victory in order to progress to the next round, Donovan pounced on a blocked Clint Dempsey shot to score the game’s only goal in second-half stoppage time.
1. Goal Against Mexico
For an American footballer, it doesn’t get any better than scoring against Mexico at a World Cup finals. That’s exactly what Donovan did in Jeonju, South Korea, in 2002 when his second-half strike gave the United States a 2-0 lead they wouldn’t relinquish in their round of 16 showdown. For his play at the competition, Donovan was named the Best Young Player of the 2002 World Cup.