Landon Donovan's final international outing will dominate the U.S. Men's National team's friendly against Ecuador. That's only fitting when considering Donovan's long history of quality performances on the international stage.
The game will also be an ideal opportunity for manager Jurgen Klinsmann to herald the future by showcasing some of the nation's young talents. However, Ecuador will be far from placid bystanders in any goodbye ceremony for Donovan.
The South American side have plenty of attacking talent. Klinsmann ought to be particularly wary of powerful Premier League striker Enner Valencia.
Before a preview, here is the schedule and viewing information:
Date: Friday, Oct. 10, 2014
Time: 7 p.m. ET / Midnight BST
Live Stream: WatchESPN.
As Donovan prepares to head off into the sunset, Klinsmann is already planning for life without him. He will use this game as the first phase in that plan, according to Sports Illustrated writer Brian Straus:
Julian Green, 19, and DeAndre Yedlin, 21, already are key components of Klinsmann’s plans. The number of new faces called in for last month’s win over the Czech Republic, some of whom are on the latest roster, as well as Monday’s inclusion of Minnesota United attacker Miguel Ibarra, are additional signs of just how committed Klinsmann is to increasing his options.
Klinsmann is right to turn his squad over to its younger members. However, Green is one exciting and precocious young gem the manager will have to do without.
The fleet-footed product of FC Bayern Munich's stellar academy was a contender to feature, but Klinsmann has since conformed that an ongoing rib injury has ruled the attacking midfielder out:
The highly touted teenager and current Hamburg SV loanee has the pace and technique that would likely have worried Ecuador.
However, even with other quality youngsters ready to break through, successfully replacing Donovan will be no easy task. How could it be after such a stellar career?
Sports Illustrated scribe Grant Wahl recently detailed just how prolific Donovan has been for his country:
And on Oct. 10, in front of a crowd in East Hartford, Conn., that’s coming largely to see him, Donovan will play one final game for the national team, in a friendly against Ecuador. The occasion will be a chance for Donovan to share one last special moment on the field with U.S. fans after his 156 caps and his U.S. men’s record 57 goals and 58 assists.
Finding players to pick up the slack for a prodigious goalscorer and classy creator would be difficult for any nation. Certainly, bulldozing striker Jozy Altidore doesn't possess Donovan's natural flair.
Klinsmann needs to begin the process of adjusting his attack and the way his team creates chances.
Playing to a more direct and physical forward isn't something that's likely to bother Ecuador. They have their own in Enner Valencia.
The bullish West Ham United ace has made a quick impression in the Premier League. He's mobile, strong and crafty in the box.
If he gets the supply from wide areas he can usually count on, Valencia will punish the U.S. defence.
Predicted Final Score: U.S.A. 2-2 Ecuador
Donovan's last game will be a spirited one, and he'll likely play a part in both goals for his nation. However, a stubborn Ecuador response will see Donovan cap his illustrious international career with an entertaining stalemate.