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Landon Donovan will get U.S. farewell, to be called up to face Ecuador

Aug 26, 2014, 4:27 PM EDT

One of Donovan;s finest moments came for the USA at the 2010 World Cup. His last minute goal sent the USMNT through to the last 16. Getty Images

Landon Donovan’s walking away from the game at the end of the regular season, but before he hangs up his boots, U.S. Soccer is going to do right by him. As announced today by the federation, Landon Donovan will be called up for the men’s national team’s Oct. 10 friendly in East Hartford, Conn., against Ecuador.

Donovan announced his impending retirement earlier this month, with a spring cut from the U.S.’s World Cup roster leaving it unclear whether the men’s national team’s all-time leading scorer would have another change to wear his nation’s colors. With today’s announcement, the 32-year-old will get an opportunity to build on the 57 goals and 58 assists he’s collected in 156 appearances for his country.

“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,” Donovan said, in a statement released by U.S. Soccer. “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.”

Though the U.S. is scheduled to play in Europe next month, the Oct. 10 date will be its first game on home soil since leaving for this summer’s World Cup.

“For 15 years, Landon has thrilled us with his amazing abilities on the field and impressed us with his gracious approach off the field,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said. “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.”

All of a sudden those 40,000 tickets at Rentschler Field become a much hotter commodity, but even for those who can’t get to East Hartford, the call up gives an entire nation a chance to celebrate its biggest soccer icon. From Tim Howard to Mia Hamm, from Abby Wambach to Clint Dempsey, the program has had other celebrities. None of them have occupied the same spotlight as Donovan.

“He consistently raised the bar for himself these last 15 years, and he set a fantastic example for so many other American players to follow,” head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “As one of the best players in U.S. Soccer history, Landon should be proud of everything he has accomplished.”

Via television, print, and social media, the outpouring of appreciation will be huge, with October’s focal point allowing all to focus its attentions on one, final, national team farewell. With six weeks to go until that send off, U.S. fans have plenty of time to figure out how they’ll honor the program’s defining figure.

  1. jslip1 - Aug 26, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    Good.

    Though I have to wonder if Gulati pulled rank on this one or if Jurgen did it of his own accord.

    • jcmeyer10 - Aug 26, 2014 at 4:38 PM

      I’m guessing this wasn’t Klinsmann’s idea. I do think it’s the right thing to do.

    • talgrath - Aug 26, 2014 at 6:53 PM

      I don’t think Klinsmann minds bringing in Donovan for this game; the game is literally meaningless, more of a “welcome home” game to feed fan interest than anything vital.

      • Sgc - Aug 27, 2014 at 6:33 PM

        I suspect he kinda does. He was among the very last to comment on Donovan’s retirement in the first place, and he managed to avoid being quoted in the press release about Donovan being in this game. That and his son was never suspended for his comments, he was allowed to play in the next YNT game. The signals are subtle, but there’s a theme here.

      • talgrath - Aug 28, 2014 at 7:25 PM

        Regardless of what you think Klinsmann thinks about Donovan (and honestly who cares), you have to remember that these games are the most pre-seasonish of friendlies for national teams. The World Cup just got over, the Gold Cup doesn’t happen for almost a year. These games are chances to showcase young talent and to keep the fans hungry for more, rather than matches of any serious nature. Look at the squad that Klinsmann selected for the Czech friendly, virtually no names on the roster that are stars or vested veterans, basically a U-23 squad instead of a serious senior team squad. Even if you assume Klinsmann hates Donovan’s guts, I don’t think he really cares if Donovan plays one last match in a meaningless post World Cup friendly.

      • Sgc - Aug 29, 2014 at 6:48 PM

        Oh, absolutely on the preseason bit. I just think that the thought that there isn’t something personal at this point is just making nice for the camera.

  2. 5thliner - Aug 26, 2014 at 5:06 PM

    “U.S. Soccer is doing right by its biggest icon. Donovan will be called up for the Dec. 10 game in Connecticut.” Wait, so when is the game? October or December?

    • Richard Farley - Aug 26, 2014 at 5:08 PM

      Oh. Thanks. Will correct that now.
      Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

      • Sgc - Aug 27, 2014 at 6:30 PM

        They made you study too much Latin in school, didn’t they? There was a time when “Dec”ember actually was the 10th month.

  3. braxtonrob - Aug 26, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    Good grief JK, you don’t have to comment, YOU’RE the one making these decisions.

  4. braxtonrob - Aug 26, 2014 at 8:13 PM

    Unbelievable the way people talk about this guy now ….
    Will they give him a walker to hobble around with, or will he be given the same opening minute that Make-A-Wish kid got in Seattle?

    Un—-believable how opinions of a legend have dipped SO far in a matter of months, SMH!

    • Paper Lions - Aug 27, 2014 at 8:53 AM

      You are conflated opinions about his legacy and historical contributions to the growth of soccer in the US with opinions about his current ability. No one’s opinion about his current playing ability have changed, just like no one’s opinion about his historical performances has changed….one is the basis for inclusion on the WC roster, whereas the other is the reason he’ll play in an otherwise meaningless friendly.

      • braxtonrob - Aug 29, 2014 at 1:09 PM

        Wrong (yet again).

  5. mikeevergreen - Aug 27, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    Many people might say, “Why not at StubHub?” Good question. “Why not at EverBank in Jacksonville? (where he hat-tricked against Ecuador). As an aside, one of his bests assists was at the stadium where they will play it, Rentschler.

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