The most successful player in Major League Soccer history will now take a victory lap. A day after scoring the winning goal in the MLS All-Stars' 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich, USMNT legend Landon Donovan announced on Thursdaythat this will be the final season of his career, one that is unlikely to be matched anytime soon.
Donovan was the first effectively homegrown star at a time when the league's future was very much unknown. After starting out as one of the inaugural members of U.S. Soccer's training academy at IMG and then toiling away for several years in Germany, Donovan came to MLS with something to prove.
He set about doing that almost right away. Despite injuries limiting him to fewer than 1,900 minutes during each of his first three seasons with the San Jose Earthquakes, Donovan scored 26 goals and logged 19 assists while leading his team to a pair of MLS Cup championships.
That proved to be only the beginning. Donovan went on to win three more MLS Cups -- all with the LA Galaxy -- as well as an MLS MVP in 2009. He was named to the MLS Best XI six times and lays claim to the all-time MLS scoring record (currently at 138 goals) and any number of other team and personal accomplishments.
And that's only what he did in MLS.
Although Donovan never had an extended run of excellence during his various stints in Europe, he did shine on the international stage. Donovan appeared in three World Cups in which he scored five goals, won 157 international caps and is the United States' leading all-time scorer with 57 international goals.
Although he's still just 32 years old, this announcement does not come as a huge shock. Donovan's professional career started when he was just 17 and last season he took an extended sabbatical that caused him to miss the first third of the Galaxy's season as well as parts of the United States' World Cup qualifying. Donovan eventually returned to the Galaxy in time to post 10 goals and nine assists, as well as help lead the United States to a Gold Cup crown. But his decision to walk away was likely a significant part of why Jurgen Klinsmann left him off the most recent World Cup team.