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.