Landon Donovan

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Donovan coming out of retirement again to play in Mexico

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Captain American is heading south for his latest comeback.

Landon Donovan, widely considered the most accomplished player in American soccer history, is coming out of retirement for the second time in three years, this time to join Club Leon in Mexico.

[ MORE: Twitter reacts to Donovan’s return

The Liga MX team announced Donovan’s return to soccer on Twitter on Friday night. Donovan will play for Leon in the Mexican Clausura tournament, although more details on his signing were not provided.

Donovan has spent the past three days in Leon, raising speculation that he might join the club. He also tweeted Friday about joining Club Leon, saying he was excited to face former U.S. teammate and current C.F. Pachuca player Omar Gonzalez next month.

“I loved the city, Leon is an historic and winning team,” Donovan wrote in Spanish. “I don*t believe in walls, I want to go to Mexico, dress in green and win tournaments in Leon. See you soon.”

Donovan is the third player signed by Leon for the Clausura tournament along with Argentinian Emanuel Cecchini and Jamaican Giles Barnes.

The 35-year-old is the career scoring leader in Major League Soccer and for the U.S. national team. He returned to the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer in September of 2016 following a 21-month retirement and appeared in nine games. He hasn’t played professionally since Nov. 6, 2016.

Donovan played in three World Cups: South Korea and Japan 2002, Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010. He also played in six Gold Cups and won four titles. He scored 57 goals playing for the U.S. team and 145 in the MLS.

Donovan has done broadcast work since retiring and was rumored to be considering a run for U.S. Soccer Federation president. Donovan announced in November that he would not seek the position.

Donovan reacts to goal, “old guy” chants: “Wish I was getting the benefits of AARP”

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Landon Donovan said he felt “useless” in the first game of his return to Major League Soccer, so to score an important goal in his second meant a lot to him.

But he claims wasn’t about proving any sort of point, it was about finding one for the Galaxy.

[ MORE: Exclusive — FCD’s Hedges flying under radar ]

“This was a game that needed a play,” Landon Donovan said after scoring the game-tying goal in the 77th minute as the Galaxy stayed in the West’s second place with the 2-2 result.

Alright, Landon. We get it. You’re a competitor. But let’s not pretend those “old guy” chants from the KC crowd didn’t have you riled up. You did, after all, cup your ears to the crowd after scoring.

From LAGalaxy.com:

“Listen, I’ve got an 8-month-old at home,” Donovan deadpanned after the match. “Diapers are expensive. I wish I was getting the benefits of AARP right now. But I think they probably realized I might have a little time left in me, this old guy.”

LA finishes with Seattle, Houston, and Dallas twice. The “old guy” will have a say in the Galaxy’s shot at the Supporters’ Shield, as LA is four points behind FCD.

Landon Donovan confirms Galaxy return; Details decision-making process

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Make-A-Wish
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Landon Donovan used a Facebook post to confirm the news that broke earlier Thursday: He’s heading back to Major League Soccer as a player.

Donovan retired after helping the LA Galaxy to the 2014 MLS Cup, and was in MLS Best XI form when he walked away from the game.

[ MORE: How effective can he be? ]

But with the Galaxy hit by injuries, Donovan began to explore some Galaxy staffer ideas that he consider returning to the team.

Here’s how it developed (Full statement embedded at bottom):

I then had a candid conversation with Bruce Arena and we began down the path of deciding whether this made sense. We both agreed that if this was going to happen, the expectations would be minimal and he would use me in situations that made sense for the team. I’ve spent a lot of time speaking with my family and close friends over the past several days, and we all agreed that this would be a wonderful opportunity and a win-win situation for everyone.

How effective would a returning Landon Donovan be for the Galaxy?

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Major League Soccer’s postseason just received a major boost in the hype department, and rightfully so, as Landon Donovan appears set to return to the field after less than two years away from the game.

We’ve covered the “Why?”, not what about the “How?”.

[ MORE: Donovan is coming back ]

The last time we saw Donovan on the pitch, he was playing all 120 minutes of the Galaxy’s extra time win over New England in MLS Cup 2014, finishing a five-match run that saw him play all but 7 minutes.

How good was he that season? Real good. Check his per-game performance score amongst players to play more than 10 matches, via advanced stats site Squawka. No coincidence that No. 2 is the striker he set up for a boatload of goals.

Donovan (@Squawka)
(@Squawka)

Donovan has always been known as an endurance freak, the sort of athlete willing to commit whatever it takes to success. Even his unusual break from the game after a bout with depression came with an admission that he had trouble understanding his inability to totally commit to the game.

So he won’t be making this decision without an ability to do just that. If you need a reminder of how good Donovan was when he called it quits, lest we forget that Donovan’s final season, CONCACAF Champions League, and playoffs saw him drop 13 goals and 24 assists en route to a seventh MLS Best XI.

[ MORE: Twitter reacts to LD’s return

We wouldn’t rule out flashes of dominance from the 34-year-old attacker at all — This is Landon Donovan after all — but it’s likely we’re talking super sub for a while. Donovan said he and coach Bruce Arena said “expectations would be minimal”.

Or are we? Once Donovan’s fitness is up to snuff, this is a team missing Gyasi Zardes for the season and using Emmanuel Boateng — who scored Wednesday — and Baggio Husidic on the wings of a 4-2-3-1. The idea of Donovan slotting next Giovani Dos Santos, as odd as that would be for USMNT and Mexico fans, could happen down the stretch.

After all, this is a Galaxy team which is 7 points back of FC Dallas for the top slot in the West (and MLS), and two matches left against the Texas club. Throw in last place Houston and 8th place Seattle, and there are 12 points sitting out there before we talk mid-table sides Sporting KC and Orlando City.

[ MORE: Mourinho vs. Pep rivalry

Here’s how the Galaxy season plays out:

Sunday — vs. Orlando City FC
Sept. 18 — at Sporting KC
Sept. 25 — vs. Seattle Sounders
Oct. 1 — at FC Dallas
Oct. 16 — at Houston Dynamo
Oct. 23 — vs. FC Dallas

Remember that Squawka table from above? If not, scroll up (I kid). The Galaxy has had trouble getting production from players on the wings this year. While Dos Santos has been electric in the hole, Zardes has simply hemmorhaged possession this season.

Could we see an XI like this from Bruce Arena?

Rowe

Rogers — Steres — Van Damme — Cole

Gerrard — Larentowicz

Boateng — Dos Santos — Donovan

Keane

Given the relatively good performances from Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane, even marginally effective displays from an in-form Donovan could boost L.A. into one of the favorites for MLS Cup (They need to be more consistent at the back, for sure).