Donovan to play one last game for U.S.
Landon Donovan's unparalleled U.S. national team career isn't quite over yet.
U.S. Soccer announced on Tuesday afternoon that the country's all-time scoring leader will play one last game for the American squad, when the U.S. meets Ecuador Oct. 10 in East Hartford, Conn. Donovan revealed on Aug. 7 that he planned to retire from the sport at the end of the current MLS season.
It's not a testimonial match, played as an exhibition organized specially to honor a decorated departing player. The game at Rentschler Field, the national team's first on U.S. soil since advancing to the knockout stage of the 2014 FIFA Word Cup in Brazil, was announced two weeks ago and had been in the works long before that.
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But the surprise call-up also isn't based on performance, even though Donovan has been on fire for the LA Galaxy lately, with goals in each of his last two games. The idea is to honor the most accomplished player in U.S. history.
"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 in a statement. "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."
It's not clear if Donovan, who in May was left off coach Jurgen Klinsmann's 23-man roster for Brazil, will start against Ecuador. But his role is expected to be limited, whether he's in the lineup or comes off the bench. Donovan would not participate in a subsequent U.S. friendly on Oct. 14.
In a statement, Klinsmann said, "Congratulations to Landon Donovan on an absolutely amazing career. 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. As one of the best players in U.S. Soccer history, Landon should be proud of everything he has accomplished."
Donovan made his debut for the U.S. in October of 2000. He last played for the team in April. His 156 international appearances are second-most on the U.S. list, and Donovan has scored a record 57 goals for the national team, while assisting on 58 -- also a record. He scored five times in 12 World Cup games, participating in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 tournaments.
"I'm ecstatic to have the opportunity to play for my country one last time," Donovan said. "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. I look forward to a great evening and I'm thankful to U.S. Soccer for making this happen."