Like any other American soccer fan, I was ecstatic for the return of Landon Donovan. The man who retired far too soon was returning to the game to help out his club in need.
I applaud the charitable act, Landon.
The former USMNT star has made his first appearance back from his two year retirement on Sunday in the 4-2 Galaxy win against Orlando City. Donovan didn’t do too much in the roughly 10 minutes he was on the pitch, but fans were excited to have Captain America back on the field.
Unfortunately, the situation and the return of Donovan must be assessed in terms of progress for the MLS.
Yes, Landon Donovan is the most storied player in MLS history and the best USMNT player of all time. Relive the greatest moments of his career:
Donovan signed a six-year deal with Bayer Leverkusen in 1999 but never really felt at home in Germany. He was granted extended leaves of absence to train with the USMNT.
San Jose Earthquakes
Donovan was loaned to the Earthquakes for the 2001 season. He led the quakes to MLS Cups in '01 and '03.
Best Young Player 2002 World Cup
Donovan was named the Best Young Player at the 2002 World Cup, after scoring against Poland in the group stage and again against Mexico in the round of 16.
Donovan & Beckham
Donovan signed with the Galaxy after requesting a transfer from Bayer Leverkusen in 2005. Two years later, David Beckham arrived, laying the foundations for what MLS is today.
Source: LA Times
Donovan was loaned to Bayern Munich in late 2008. Despite playing well, Bayern declined to extend his loan.
2010 World Cup Winner
Donovan's last-minute goal against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup is arguably the greatest moment of his career. It sealed a historic first place finish in the group stage for the USMNT.
MLS Cup MVP
Donovan led the LA Galaxy to another MLS Cup victory in 2011 and was named MLS Cup MVP after scoring the game winner in the 72nd minute.
Donovan was loaned to Everton for a second time in 2012 (the first being in 2010). His name is good money in Merseyside to this day.
After an illustrious career, Donovan decided to hang up the boots after the 2014 MLS season.
In September 2016, two years after stepping away from the game, Donovan came out of retirement to help his Galaxy make a playoff push.
Unfortunately, his return to MLS fails to improve the status of MLS.
This move says to the world that if you’re retired for two years and you want to come back and play in the league, you can.
It shows that we regressed as a footballing nation and have become more of a laughing stock.
The fact that Landon Donovan can still compete after being out of professional football is a testament to the still low level of the league.
Less than a week of practice and Donovan is back on the pitch. In my mind, that’s unreal.
America, we have a problem.
Shit like this can’t happen if we want to even consider ourselves amongst the up and coming leagues of the world.
The best American talent is elsewhere and many don’t have plans to play in the retirement league. Higher levels of play can be found outside the United Sates and top talent is rightly being recruited overseas.
This is why Jurgen Klinsmann prefers European based players and why every national team fan should as well.
The MLS is not a league to produce players it’s a money making retirement home for ex-stars.