One of Donovan;s finest moments came for the USA at the 2010 World Cup. His last minute goal sent the USMNT through to the last 16.

Landon Donovan will get U.S. farewell, to be called up to face Ecuador


Landon Donovan’s walking away from the game at the end of the regular season, but before he hangs up his boots, U.S. Soccer is going to do right by him. As announced today by the federation, Landon Donovan will be called up for the men’s national team’s Oct. 10 friendly in East Hartford, Conn., against Ecuador.

Donovan announced his impending retirement earlier this month, with a spring cut from the U.S.’s World Cup roster leaving it unclear whether the men’s national team’s all-time leading scorer would have another change to wear his nation’s colors. With today’s announcement, the 32-year-old will get an opportunity to build on the 57 goals and 58 assists he’s collected in 156 appearances for his country.

“Playing for the U.S. National Team has been a huge part of my career and I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to play for my country one last time,” Donovan said, in a statement released by U.S. Soccer. “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.”

Though the U.S. is scheduled to play in Europe next month, the Oct. 10 date will be its first game on home soil since leaving for this summer’s World Cup.

“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 said. “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.”

All of a sudden those 40,000 tickets at Rentschler Field become a much hotter commodity, but even for those who can’t get to East Hartford, the call up gives an entire nation a chance to celebrate its biggest soccer icon. From Tim Howard to Mia Hamm, from Abby Wambach to Clint Dempsey, the program has had other celebrities. None of them have occupied the same spotlight as Donovan.

“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,” head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “As one of the best players in U.S. Soccer history, Landon should be proud of everything he has accomplished.”

Via television, print, and social media, the outpouring of appreciation will be huge, with October’s focal point allowing all to focus its attentions on one, final, national team farewell. With six weeks to go until that send off, U.S. fans have plenty of time to figure out how they’ll honor the program’s defining figure.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.