Today, U.S. Men's National Team star and LA Galaxy anchor Landon Donovan, 32, announced that he'll retire at the end of the 2014 season, in a letter to fans. Of his 16 years as a professional, Donovan spent 14 of those years in MLS, despite many other overseas opportunities.
Donovan made the announcement the day after scoring the game-winning goal in the MLS All-Stars’ 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in Portland. He had signed a multi-year Designated Player contract with the Galaxy last August for a $4.25 million dollar annual base salary, but was shaken up when Jurgen Klinsmann surprisingly cut him from the U.S. roster for World Cup Brazil, which also weakened the National Team. Speculation on the division focused on Donovan's 2012 sabbatical from professional soccer to spend time in Cambodia and his reluctance to train 11 days in a row with the National Team.
"I plan to express my gratitude to everyone in a more detailed manner at a later date; however, for now, I want to single out the fans," Donovan wrote. "You are the lifeblood of this sport and, without you, none of us would be fortunate to call ourselves professional soccer players in MLS ...
As we enter a transformative time for the sport, I will do everything I can to help the continued growth of soccer in the United States. I look forward to making a difference, pursuing my passions and meeting all of you along the way in this next phase of my life.”
Donovan will retire as the most important player in the history of MLS and U.S. Soccer. He is one of only three five-time winners of MLS Cup and the all-time leading scorer in league history, as well as a six-time MLS Best XI selection with 14 consecutive appearances with the MLS All-Stars. He won the Budweiser Golden Boot as the league’s top scorer in 2008 and followed that by earning the title of league MVP in 2009.
He’s also the all-time leading scorer in US national team history with 57 goals in 156 career appearances, including five goals scored over 12 World Cup games, the most by any player in US history.
Donovan's club career will continue as long as the Galaxy remain in the 2014 MLS Playoffs, which would be his 11th post-season run. So far this season, Donovan has scored four goals and added seven assists for the Galaxy.
In a subsequent press conference this afternoon and in response to queries about his future plans, Donovan said, "I absolutely want to work with kids."