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 …
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Dec 21, 2014, 8:17 PM EST
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Dec 21, 2014, 7:40 PM EST
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Dec 21, 2014, 6:20 PM EST
Ally McCoist has left Scottish Championship team Rangers, as the club has recognized the former star striker is now on “gardening leave.”
Dec 21, 2014, 5:30 PM EST
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Dec 21, 2014, 4:55 PM EST
According to Brendan Rogers, Liverpool’s prime attacker, Daniel Sturridge, will make his return from a multi-month injury in early January.
Dec 21, 2014, 4:05 PM EST
Sunderland winger Adam Johnson on game-winner and Tyne-Wear derby triumphs: “Three years in a row, they must hate me here!”
Dec 21, 2014, 3:39 PM EST
Brendan Rodgers gives his thoughts after a 2-2 draw despite what he called “dominance” on the ball.
Dec 21, 2014, 3:12 PM EST
With polarizing halves separating the teams, Arsene Wenger said a draw was the correct result based on performance.
Dec 21, 2014, 2:29 PM EST
Cristiano Ronaldo appeared to bring a grudge with him to Morocco.
Dec 21, 2014, 1:44 PM EST
With Newcastle yielding late, Alan Pardew thinks he may have left his team a little too exposed as the clock ticked towards the final minute.
Dec 21, 2014, 1:08 PM EST
Martin Skrtel returned from a nasty injury and took full advantage of the resulting stopptage time.
Dec 21, 2014, 11:58 AM EST
A day to forget for the American central defender in Germany’s top flight.
Dec 21, 2014, 10:26 AM EST
The boyhood Newcastle fan scored at St. James Park for the third year in a row as Sunderland stole the Tyne-Wear derby late.
Dec 21, 2014, 10:16 AM EST
Raheem Sterling looks to be the lone attacking option for Liverpool as Brendan Rodgers has left both his available strikers on the bench.
Dec 21, 2014, 8:52 AM EST
A magnetizing first touch leads to a meaningless but nonetheless beautiful goal by the man who gives us magic weekly.
Dec 21, 2014, 7:53 AM EST
The heated Tyne-Wear derby has brought us goals and fireworks of many kinds, and will be no different today as Sunderland looks to win four in a row over Newcastle for the first time ever.
Dec 20, 2014, 10:54 PM EST
Howard doesn’t think Lampard will start the MLS season with NYCFC, although he says he should.
Dec 20, 2014, 9:51 PM EST
Doneil Henry is reportedly close to joining West Ham, which is a surprise, to say the least.
Dec 20, 2014, 8:46 PM EST
After logging lots of miles the last 16 months, Raheem Sterling is going to get a short rest very soon.
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