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

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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.”

[tweet https://twitter.com/j_klinsmann/status/504358838665883649]

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.

Group C wide open as Denmark, Australia settle for draw

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Denmark and Australia settled for a 1-1 draw on Thursday, as this exciting Group C affair had nothing to separate the two nations at the end of 90 minutes.

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As it stands, the Danes lead the group with four points, while Australia earned its first point of the World Cup.

France will meet Peru later on Thursday, with Les Bleus having won its first match and Peru having suffered defeat to Denmark.

The Danes broke through after seven minutes when Nicolai Jørgensen picked out a perfect back-heel pass to Christian Eriksen at the top of the box, before the Tottenham Hotspur attacker volleyed home for a 1-0 lead.

Jørgensen nearly doubled the Denmark advantage in the 24th minute when the 27-year-old had an open header from close range that skewed just wide of the target.

Australia worked its way into the match following the opener, and were awarded a penalty kick in the 37th minute after VAR Mark Geiger altered an initial decision for a handball inside the box.

Mile Jedinak converted the spot kick to level the match at 1-1, giving the Socceroos life.

A dangerous free kick four minutes later almost gave Denmark the lead once again, however, Eriksen couldn’t get a crucial touch on the ball to knock it over the goal line before Ryan collected.

The second half continued with lightning pace from both sides, and Aaron Mooy‘s 71st minute blast came inches away from giving Australia an improbable lead.

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The two nations will conclude Group C play on June 26, as Denmark faces France and Australia takes on CONMEBOL side Peru.

Video: VAR awards Australia penalty, before Jedinak converts

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The Socceroos battled admirably in the latter stages of the first half, and Australia was rewarded for their efforts.

Australia has leveled the match at 1-1 after a Mile Jedinak penalty kick cancelled out Christian Eriksen’s stunning opener in the seventh minute.

After an initial decision to play on by the head referee, VAR Mark Geiger opted to award a penalty kick to the Aussies after Yussuf Poulsen was caught with his hand away from his body on a Mathew Leckie header.

Poulsen was also shown a yellow card for the infraction, which rules him out for Denmark’s group-stage finale against France.

Video: Eriksen volley has Denmark ahead inside 10 minutes

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Denmark is well on its way to another three points on Thursday, and this time it’s Christian Eriksen who has finally broken through at the World Cup.

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Eriksen put the Danes in front in the seventh minute after a tremendous volley that gave Australia goalkeeper Maty Ryan no chance at keeping it out.

After a sloppy turnover in their own half, Australia could only watch as the ball fell to Nicolai Jørgensen, who cleverly back-heeled to Eriksen at the top of the box.

The Danes pulled off a 1-0 victory in their first Group C match against Peru, while Australia fell 2-1 to France.

Croatia coach says “we have nothing to lose” against Argentina

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Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic chose his words wisely when discussing their final Group D opponent, Argentina, but his side won’t be backing down when they take on Lionel Messi and Co.

[ MORE: Spain gets win after Iran equalizer called off by replay ]

With three points already in the bag for the European nation, Croatia currently sits atop their group, however, Dalic recognizes the task that lies in front of him and his team on Thursday.

“I didn’t say that Argentina was the easiest opponent,” Dalic said. “I said that this was the easiest game for us. We have nothing to lose. We are playing against one of the best.”

Croatia does have the benefit of having won its first match in group play, which has given the side a decided enthusiasm heading into the meeting.

For Ivan Rakitic — who plays at Barcelona with Messi — he believes there isn’t much he or anyone on his team can say or do to further prepare themselves for the Albiceleste.

“What can I tell them that they don’t know?” Rakitic said. “The world knows. Messi is one of the best players in the world. He will have his moments, clearly. It is up to us to stop him, to play the right way against him, and to enjoy the match and play our best.

“It’s a beautiful thing to play against one of the best teams in the world. We are especially motivated.”

In four all-time meetings, Argentina leads 2-1-1 against Croatia, including a 1-0 victory during the 1998 World Cup in France.

The two teams last met in 2014 following Argentina’s World Cup final defeat to Germany, with Messi and Co. earning a 2-1 victory over Croatia.