The world’s most popular game has never been able to really establish itself in America, with baseball, basketball and American ‘egg-ball’ the preferred viewing choice. However, the 2010 World Cup threatened to change this, with the United States’ Men’s National Team (USMNT) falling in a glorious defeat to Belgium.
Tim Howard starred in that game and he has become the link between the rest of the world and it’s footballing obsession, and the nation that pretty much invented obsession. However, before the incredibly talented nut job that was Howard, there was another man that threatened to take football to the States, and that man was Landon Donovan.
The forward was a bastion of American football prior to 2010 World Cup. While he was superb in America and for the international team, he struggled hugely in Europe. Short stints at Bayern Munich and Everton did not begin any sort of European domination, with just two goals in three seasons at the two clubs.
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 27, 2017
If ever there was an example of a player that was able to thrive on home soil but nowhere else (the England national team for example), then Donovan is that example.
In America, he netted 112 goals in 247 games for LA Galaxy, a phenomenal return, thus reinforcing the claims that he was far more comfortable in his home country. This earned him multiple inclusions in the MLS XI, while he was also a part of the MLS all-time best XI.
Donovan’s career should also be judged on his time with the international team, too. After a disappointing performance at the 2006 World Cup, in which America were eliminated at the group-stage without the striker scoring or assisting, Donovan came into his own at the 2007 Gold Cup.
Donovan found the net with four goals, including a crucial penalty in the USA’s 2-1 win in the final over Mexico, while in 2009 there were more heroics to come as Donovan scored a fine free-kick to help his team to a 3-2 victory over Honduras, thus sealing his nation’s place at the 2010 World Cup.
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) March 16, 2017
Donovan’s 112 goals for the Galaxy and 57 goals for America make him one of, if not the best player to have come from the USA. In conjunction with this, 157 appearances for his nation is a marvellous total and he played a major role in bringing actual football to the United States.
Donovan was eventually controversially dropped from the team by Jurgen Klinsmann, but the American had already created his legacy and made sure it would stand forever.
With America, he was part of the sides that won the Gold Cup four times, and was a runner up in the Confederations Cup in 2009, while he also scored the crucial goal against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup that saw the US top their group and go through to the knock-out stages.
— Pramis (@itspramis) March 4, 2017
It is likely that he will be remembered as more than just a goalscorer, though. He was a leader and an incredible talent, capable of making something from nothing with his blistering pace and deadly shooting. What United States fan doesn’t like seeing their hero score a late goal, too?! With Donovan a master of the trade, and it makes it even better when it’s against a huge rivals. Little bit of afters from the goalkeeper, too.
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) February 7, 2017
One of the long lasting memories that Donovan’s fans will have is the goal he scored to make him the leading goal scorer in Gold Cup history. This proved once and for all that the guy just loves to score goals:
— Gold Cup 2017 (@GoldCup) February 20, 2017