Written by Will Parchman

donovan

Landon Donovan is retiring at the end of the season. Whenever that happens to be. And it seems as though nobody really wants this to happen except Donovan himself. Thanks to LA’s impossibly dominant 5-0 demolition of RSL at the StubHub on Sunday night, he’s got at least two games left, either in LA and Seattle or LA and Dallas.

But the real story was how rampant and invested Donovan looked on Sunday night after failing to register either a goal or an assist in any of his previous four games. Retirement tours are fickle, and they can sap motivation, but at the very least Donovan is still pouring it on. We’ll see how he does in the Western finals when he faces a defense that doesn’t look like shredded cheese.

In any case, here are all three of Donovan’s goals from Sunday. Enjoy the sunset.

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Written by Will Parchman

LD3

We will miss Landon Donovan. Probably more than we know.

As we eulogize Donovan’s professional playing career in videos and words and deeds and Tweets and posters and laurels and wreaths, we do so in the midst of sporadic moments of emotion that bubble up quickly and recede in quiet.

Donovan did this to us.

“The face of a soccer generation.” He was the first and likely last of his ilk. No one before or since has presided over the game in America during such exponential rise in popularity, and it doesn’t particularly matter if a more gifted player comes along down the line, as he most assuredly will. He wasn’t Donovan. He wasn’t there. For the committed souls who pushed into the dawn in 2002, for The Beckham Experiment, for the best U17 World Cup the U.S. has ever seen and Algeria and the Chastain bra and all of it.

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Written by Will Parchman

Watch. Listen. Sob.

“In the first episode of the Grantland Features series chronicling the twilight of Landon Donovan’s career, we follow the American legend during his farewell game as a member of the U.S. national team while he discusses the most memorable moments playing for his country.”

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Written by Maxi Rodriguez

LD

Growing up as a soccer fan throughout the ’90s was akin to spraying yourself down with a bit of social repellant. Soccer was considered, and in some places still is, the sport for those kids who couldn’t cut it in football or baseball.

Sure, there were kids who managed to break through the hurdles that stood in the way of soccer players, but they were more the exception than the rule, and in most cases, were only interested in the sport on Sunday mornings for the few hours it took to travel out of town for club matches, checking out as soon as the final whistle blew. If you actually followed the sport, whew, good luck living a normal life.

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Written by Will Parchman

Landon Donovan is kind of a big deal, which fits if you plan to wear the title of ‘Best American Soccer Player Ever’ loud and proud. Which Donovan does. And it isn’t all that close.

In lieu of his send-off this week, U.S. Soccer pushed out this tribute, which is six-plus minutes of puffy-eyed theater. Donovan as a four-year-old. Donovan as a young up-and-comer. Donovan as a U17 Golden Ball winner. Donovan as a USMNT young hot shot. Donovan as legend. All here. Grab the tissues.

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Written by Will Parchman

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That’s it. After 16 years, three World Cups, innumerable MLS triumphs and records, Landon Donovan is hanging up his spikes after the season. This came on the heels of his goal in the MLS All-Star Game that gave the team a 2-1 win over Bayern Munich.

This is a shockwave, but it’s not an entirely unexpected one. Donovan fired a casual salvo at Jurgen Klinsmann during the press conference that acknowledged that, in his mind anyway, his exclusion from the World Cup roster was a bad decision. Fair enough. Think most of us would agree. But what effect that decision had on his future remains unclear. Would a fourth World Cup have energized him the way it has DaMarcus Beasley, who’s clearly not done yet? Would it have staved off retirement and provided him the zest for another year? Questions we’ll probably never know until that autobiography comes out in a few years. Preorder before it exists, folks.

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Written by Will Parchman

If you didn’t know already, Landon Donovan is taking this whole Brazil snub thing in stride. He’s poked fun at himself already, and by getting on the horse as an analyst at ESPN, it would seem he’s found some sort of uneasy peace with the whole kerfuffle.

This adds some kindling to that warming fire. Donovan featured in EA Sports’ most recent FIFA advert, and it’s wonderful. That little dance step, the slippers, the wry smiles… all here. Though you’ll be a little sad when Donovan deadpans the “We are going to Brazil” song with a morbid twist. He can laugh at the end of it. We the people, however, cannot.

 

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Written by Will Parchman

Are these wounds too fresh? We’re about to find out.

Landon Donovan was famously omitted from Jurgen Klinsmann’s 23-man roster in May, and most of us have felt pretty bad about the whole thing for a while now. Some still haven’t gotten over it. But at least Landon Donovan himself, who recently joined the ESPN analysis crew for the cup, has a sense of humor about the whole thing. Which is good.

Is it cathartic? Man. Probably not. Hopefully this isn’t dredging up bad memories. Oh… no, man, I’m sorry. Put down the baseball bat. OK. I’ll leave. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for everything.

 

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Written by Will Parchman

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There’s a lot happening here. There’s a lot of weight under those hands.

Moments after this, Donovan unsheathed his head from his hands and ran through a handshake line by the Galaxy bench that ended with a brief but emotionally pregnant hug from Bruce Arena. The power in this moment was hard to shake. Arena, a former USMNT coach himself, had a unique vantage for one of the strangest and undoubtedly most difficult weeks in Donovan’s long career. You could almost see the assurance in it, that Arena was telling Donovan his worth was not defined in a dagger of week, no more than it was in his record-breaking 135th career MLS goal. His legacy drilled deeper than arguably the most up-and-down week any MLS player has ever endured.

Donovan scored twice on Sunday, and when he trotted off in the 82nd minute his curtain call was waiting. Showered by U-S-A chants from the crowd of more than 21,000, Donovan blew kisses, waved and quietly padded off to the bench. This was no drawn-out thing. And yet in a lot of ways, it was the most potent message he’s ever sent.

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Written by Will Parchman

donovan_usmnt_sad

Landon Donovan probably played his last World Cup game in 2010. For the most prolific scorer in the history of U.S. Soccer, the shock in that thought hit the American soccer community like a mallet on a tuning fork. Shock. Absolute shock.

Nobody saw this coming. Landon Donovan didn’t make the 23.

Mid-afternoon on Thursday, Taylor Twellman dropped this bombshell on Twitter.

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