Upon his retirement, Donovan should play one more game

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You could refer to Landon Donovan as a five-time MLS Cup champion. You could refer to him as Major League Soccer’s all-time leading goal scorer. You could mention his 156 appearances for the United States, in which he played in three World Cups en route to becoming the country’s all-time leader in goals and assists.

Or you could simply refer to him as the greatest American soccer player ever.

Landon Donovan’s retirement marks the end of an era for U.S. soccer. Bursting onto the scene as a baby-faced 20-year-old in the 2002 World Cup, Donovan scored two goals and led the United States on a surprise run to the quarterfinals. He was named the tournament’s Best Young Player, while the rest of the world was forced to accept that American soccer is for real.

Donovan was the face of U.S. soccer, both domestically and internationally. After a successful loan spell for Everton in 2010, Donovan was offered an extension to stay in the Premier League. He turned down the offer and returned to the MLS; not because it was in his best interest, but in his country’s best interest. For soccer to grow in America, Landon Donovan had to be there.

Donovan retires | Did U.S. snub accelerate decision? | Top 5 moments | How will LA cope? 

All of this made Donovan’s recent exclusion from the 2014 World Cup roster that much harder to swallow. A man who had contributed and achieved so much for American soccer was left in the shadows by a new manager who chose younger players with less experience. This decision by Jurgen Klinsmann effectively marked the end of Donovan’s career.

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Donovan and Klinsmann should put their differences aside. LD should suit up one more time for the USA.

The rift between Landon Donovan and Klinsmann is well documented. Donovan took a leave of absence from national team duties during World Cup qualifying, a decision that rubbed his manager the wrong way. When Donovan announced he was ready to return, Klinsmann took away his captaincy.

But Donovan remained the class act he had been throughout his entire career. He accepted his manager’s decision, and returned for the 2013 Gold Cup, scoring five times in six games while being named the tournament’s best player. This performance made one thing clear: no matter what personal problems Donovan had with Klinsmann, he was always dedicated to his country 110%.

At first, Klinsmann was criticized for his decision to leave Donovan at home for the World Cup. But after a strong performance by a Landon-less side, criticism turned into praise for the manager. Once viewed as a villain, Klinsmann was now the leader of a new generation of American soccer. A twist of the knife.

One day, Landon Donovan will be in the National Soccer Hall of Fame. While he retires a hero, there is no denying that the end to his storied international career was not as beautiful as the game he plays.

For legendary players in Europe and throughout the world, a testimonial match is often held to honor their careers. It acts as one last time to put on their team’s jersey and play in front of the fans that supported them through thick and thin. If there is one player who is deserving of a final send-off match, it is Landon Donovan. It is not right for his international career to end in anger and embarrassment. Without Donovan’s contributions to American soccer, a manager of Klinsmann’s caliber would have laughed at a job offer to coach the United States.

It is time for Klinsmann and Donovan to bury the hatchet. They must shake hands and accept each other’s places in American soccer history. After they shake hands, Donovan should walk onto the pitch in front of thousands of cheering fans. We all deserve to see Landon Donovan in the red, white and blue one last time. He deserves it too.

Pardew laments firing, credits Palace turnaround to new players

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Alan Pardew knows why Crystal Palace was failing when he got fired, knows he could’ve fixed it, and seems pretty bummed he’s not there any more.

Pardew emerged to make the comments after Sam Allardyce helmed another upset win for Palace, a 2-1 win over Liverpool which joins defeats of Arsenal and Chelsea.

The win moves Palace 12th, and the Eagles have a legitimate shot at a top-half finish despite their poor start to the season. But Pardew wants fans to know it was about a personnel mistake, and that Palace dropped into the relegation zone after he was fired.

[ PL PREVIEW: Chelsea vs. Southampton ]

The Northeast Chronicle says Pardew aimed to bring former Newcastle left backs Davide Santon and Paul Dummett to Palace, but couldn’t get the moves over the line. Then Pape Souare was hurt in a car accident and Palace was in trouble.

Over to you, Pards (From the Chronicle’s Lee Ryder):

“We were kicking ourselves not to have any left-footed cover. We were playing right-footed players there and things were exploiting that situation. We became one dimensional.

“I was really disappointed I didn’t get to the window because Sam Allardyce followed me and the results didn’t really improve until the new players got bedded in and they made a big difference.”

Allardyce brought in Patrick Van Aanholt from Sunderland and Jeff Schlupp from Leicester to shore up the left side.

The story is made more amusing by the fact that Allardyce has not hesitated to make Palace’s return to form almost exclusively about his influence, while Pardew bleeds the very same blood.

Who’s on first?

Atletico Madrid at CAS to fight FIFA transfer ban

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Atletico Madrid officials are at sport’s highest court to appeal against a FIFA transfer ban that will prevent the club from signing youth players from overseas during the coming offseason.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport is hearing the appeal Monday, but says a verdict is not expected immediately.

Atletico and FIFA previously agreed to seek a CAS verdict by June, before the summer trading period opens.

[ MORE: Griezmann’s advisor speaks on future ]

FIFA imposed a one-year ban on registering new players as punishment for Atletico breaking rules introduced to prevent child trafficking and luring youngsters from their home country.

Atletico denies wrongdoing, though it agreed not to sign players in January while its appeal went ahead.

Spain’s soccer federation has been criticized for its role in player registrations, with Barcelona and Real Madrid also having served FIFA transfer bans.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Southampton

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  • Chelsea won 2-0 on Oct. 30
  • Saints won fixture 3-1 last season
  • Chelsea 13W-2L at home this season
  • Blues lead all-time 40W-28D-28L

Chelsea aims to stack some wins following a momentum-restoring weekend win when Southampton visits Stamford Bridge on Tuesday (Watch live at 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Blues have lost two of four inside the Premier League — home to Crystal Palace and at Manchester United — but beat Spurs 4-2 in a thrilling FA Cup semifinal this weekend, extending their season to a May 27 final against Arsenal.

Saints are coming off their first loss in four outings, a 3-0 home beatdown at the hands of Manchester City. Now to the road, where Southampton has the eighth-best record in the Premier League. And Saints boast Manolo Gabbiadini, who Chelsea boss Antonio Conte says has one of the world’s best left foots.

What they’re saying

Chelsea’s David Luiz on Antonio Conte“He’s a fantastic person before a fantastic manager, so we talk a lot, every day, because we have a great relationship,’ he explained. We try to give our best for our club and he tries to help me with his intelligence for football to improve my football so I am very happy to work with him. He did an amazing job in this game.”

Southampton’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg on facing Chelsea“Of course, you say every game is important, but somehow, when you play against number one, it gets a little bit more important. I saw the game they lost against Manchester United, and now they are a little bit under pressure, and we also want to continue getting good results. Chelsea away is, of course, maybe the toughest game this year, but I think that we have the possibility to get the result.”

Prediction

Rested Southampton provides a real test, but one which Chelsea finds a way to pass thanks to a relatively rested Costa and Hazard. This is Costa’s day, with a brace in a 2-1 win.

Griezmann’s advisor namechecks Man Utd, 4 others

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Antoine Griezmann has maintained a desire to stay at Atletico Madrid, but his advisor says the French striker has five realistic destinations for next season if he doesn’t stay at the Vicente Calderon.

Speaking on the French outlet Telefoot, advisor Eric Olhats says the 26-year-old Griezmann is limited by his $109 million release clause.

[ MORE: Zlatan’s comeback vow; Mata close ]

Griezmann has 25 goals and 11 assists this season, slightly lighter on the goals and a step up in helpers with Atleti alive in two competitions this season. He’s still played centrally and wide right, and Yannick Carrasco is starring on the left.

From Sky Sports:

“There is an unavoidable 100m clause so that restricts the number of candidates. You have United, City, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

“United were the first to come and see us and the most concrete in their wishes.”

Griezmann to the Premier League is a move many would love to see, or at least a new challenge for the fantastic attacker. With respect to Barcelona and Real Madrid, we’ve seen plenty of top La Liga talents move within the division.

Of course, there would be something special to both Diego Simeone and Griezmann winning the UEFA Champions League and defending it at Atleti. Something tells us their fate in this year’s semifinal against Real Madrid may tip the scales for both men, or at least Griezmann.