Landon Donovan just announced that he will retire from soccer after this season. In an open letter on the L.A. Galaxy website, the former face of U.S. soccer said that he “will do everything I can to help the continued growth of soccer in the United States.”
The writing was on the wall for Donovan ever since he was left off the U.S. Soccer roster for this year’s World Cup, but his decision still comes as a surprise. You might have thought he’d stay on just to prove Jurgen Klinsmann wrong, but as we’ve seen, Donovan’s moved beyond that now… kind of.
It truly is the end of an era for U.S. soccer — it’s the closest thing the American version of the sport will have to Michael Jordan retiring (he even won five MLS Cups, for what that’s worth). This guy was our best player for a long time, and he’ll be missed.
Here’s his full statement (via lagalaxy.com):
After careful deliberation and after many conversations with those closest to me, I have decided that this will be my last season as a professional soccer player.
I don’t write these words lightly and this day carries mixed emotions for me. I am sad to leave a profession that has brought me so much joy. I will miss all of the teammates who helped me create so many incredible memories on-the-field, and who I have shared many wonderful experiences with off-the-field. I will miss my coaches, at both the club and national team levels, who have helped me develop throughout my career and helped make me the player I am today. However, after spending half my life as a professional soccer player, I also am excited to begin a new chapter and pursue other opportunities that will challenge me and allow me to grow as a person.
There are so many people I want to thank who have inspired me, guided me and helped me on this incredible journey. I simply could not have accomplished what I did during my playing career without an overwhelming amount of support from my family, my friends and many others. 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. You are the lifeblood of this sport and, without you, none of us would be fortunate to call ourselves professional soccer players in MLS.
I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have played a role in the remarkable growth of MLS and US Soccer during my playing career. And while my career as a player will soon be over, rest assured I will stay connected on many levels to the beautiful game.
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.