American soccer legend Landon Donovan may have missed out on the 2014 World Cup, but he'll at least have an opportunity to say goodbye to international football with one final match.
U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday the forward will receive his final start for the team against Ecuador on October 10, in East Hartford, Connecticut.
Federation president Sunil Gulati thought it was important to honour America's most successful soccer player of all time in proper fashion, according to a release posted on USsoccer.com:
For 15 years, Landon has thrilled us with his amazing abilities on the field and impressed us with his gracious approach off the field. We are looking forward to celebrating his legacy during our next home National Team match and allowing fans the opportunity to thank him for all the memories he’s provided over the years.
Donovan himself expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to suit up for his country one last time:
Playing for the U.S. National Team has been a huge part of my career and I'm ecstatic to have the opportunity to play for my country one last time. I'm so grateful to all the fans that have supported me and this game will give me the chance to say thank you to all of them. I look forward to a great evening and I'm thankful to U.S. Soccer for making this happen.
The 32-year-old four-time U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year was surprisingly not selected for the 2014 World Cup by Jurgen Klinsmann, and at the time, it appeared his international career would come to an abrupt end.
In the wake of that decision, the relationship between Klinsmann and Donovan has often been questioned, but the former German international showed a great deal of excitement when he announced Donovan would be on his team against Ecuador:
Donovan debuted for the U.S. national team in 2000 and quickly established himself as a once-in-a-generation talent. His move to the L.A. Galaxy gave MLS the credibility it sorely needed, and his presence was vital in the growth of the sport in the United States.
Earlier this year, Donovan announced he would retire from the sport at the end of the 2014 season, and even greats like Thierry Henry acknowledged just how important Donovan has been for the sport, via the MLS' Twitter account:
Jeff Crandall of the Chicago Fire's media department offered his thoughts on the announcement:
The one thing that was still missing was a proper send-off with the national team, and the match against Ecuador will be just that.
The team's record scorer and assist-giver has given his life to the sport, and fans will get to express their appreciation when he takes to the international pitch in October for the final time.