Dec 25, 2012, 12:00 PM EST
Landon Donovan has been such an intriguing figure for so remarkably long, but that’s hardly the surprising part.
It’s how many different ways Donovan has managed to make himself such an intriguing figure that really has become a stunner.
First, he captured the imagination of domestic soccer insiders as the kid who signed a professional contract at age 16 with a German club. Hmmm.
Then he showed at a young age what a talent he would be in MLS, and shortly after became something just short of an international star with a breakout performance at World Cup 2002.
Then Donovan began the slow drift into polarizing territory, a figure who had supporters and loud detractors – including some prominent media voices – for his choice to play in MLS rather than perhaps stretch himself internationally.
Only, then he did stretch himself internationally, at Everton – and what a whiz-bang job he did there at Goodison Park! Somewhere in between, Donovan married a Hollywood actress, by the way.
Also into spin cycle let’s drop this: Donovan disappointed most everyone with a deflated 2006 World Cup, but scored one of the most memorable U.S. goals ever at the 2010 World Cup. That’s three World Cups, for those counting.
And now …
The United States’ all-time leading scorer managed to become one of the truly intriguing figures of 2012 by, of all things, talking about walking away from it all. Truly, who saw that coming?
The first starburst of shocking stories came out in the summer. His talk of early retirement at age 30 perhaps could have been written off as a passing thing – only he kept talking about it.
Donovan, who still has a chance to be Major League Soccer all-time leading scorer and assist leader, helped guide the Los Angeles Galaxy to a second consecutive MLS Cup crown in early December.
But as he sat on the podium minutes after the final whistle, Donovan once again let on that perhaps he’s had enough.
If anyone has earned the right to walk away on his terms, it’s Donovan, the very face of domestic soccer – the national team and MLS – for so many years now.
It would be a shame, but the man has earned the right.
Either way, he’s ever the story.
Others in the Top Three – No. 3: Jurgen Klinsmann
Up next: No. 1 …
Jan 27, 2015, 3:00 PM EST
The Socceroos reached the AFC final for just the second-time in their history.
Jan 27, 2015, 2:20 PM EST
Yedlin flies halfway around the world to link up with USMNT after joining Tottenham in January.
Jan 27, 2015, 1:40 PM EST
Brazilian skipper aims to help Brazil win elusive Olympic gold medal on home soil.
Jan 27, 2015, 12:57 PM EST
Spaniard set to miss at least six months after rupturing anterior cruciate ligament.
Jan 27, 2015, 12:19 PM EST
Monster trade sees cash, players and allocation order’s dished out as USMNT midfielder could be heading home.
Jan 27, 2015, 11:10 AM EST
Wembley final on the line: Premier League giants clash at the Bridge while Spurs head to third-tier Blades.
Jan 27, 2015, 10:15 AM EST
Are the Citizens heading to the Big Apple?
Jan 27, 2015, 9:20 AM EST
Madrid say they have “responded diligently” to requests from world soccer’s governing body.
Jan 27, 2015, 8:30 AM EST
As Sterling continues to stall on a new deal, will Chelsea tempt the youngster with a move back to London?
Jan 27, 2015, 7:36 AM EST
Casillas declares his intention to play in the USA one day. When will that be?
Jan 26, 2015, 9:45 PM EST
Hope Solo’s punishment for repeated alcohol-related incidents could extend much further than her initial 30-day suspension.
Jan 26, 2015, 8:22 PM EST
3-4 months on the sidelines means a massive hole to fill to start the 2015 season.
Jan 26, 2015, 7:10 PM EST
After two more places in the knockout rounds were booked on Tuesday, half the quarterfinal matchups are set.
Jan 26, 2015, 6:15 PM EST
Half the current USMNT roster was built with the Gold Cup in mind, while the other half is about next year’s Olympics. So, who’s who, then?
Jan 26, 2015, 4:05 PM EST
After eight months without a club, Juan Agudelo is reportedly returning to the place he should have been all along: MLS.
Jan 26, 2015, 2:59 PM EST
As the soccer world will no longer see the maverick skills of the Argentine playmaker, here’s a look at some of his best moments.
Jan 26, 2015, 2:38 PM EST
Here’s the draw for the last 16 of the FA Cup, as PL big boys get more tough tests.
Jan 26, 2015, 1:57 PM EST
Van Praag announces his intentions to run against Blatter, says he has the backing of five federations.
Jan 26, 2015, 1:00 PM EST
Betting on five underdogs away from home in the FA Cup will win you serious cash.
Jan 26, 2015, 12:32 PM EST
Fagundez explains why he couldn’t wait any longer to select his national team.
- New York, Montreal complete huge trade; Kljestan free to join Red Bulls 3
- Report: Manchester City to play New York City in Yankee Stadium friendly 1
- Iker Casillas to MLS? Real Madrid legend: “I would like to play in the United States” 0
- Chile vs. USA preview: Who’s here to stay as USMNT kicks off 2015? 0
- Report: Juan Agudelo close to signing with his former MLS team, New England Revolution 5
- Head of Dutch FA, Michael van Praag, will challenge Blatter for FIFA presidency 3