As Landon Donvan’s farewell match for the United States approaches, take a look at his best World Cup moments in the Red, White and Blue.
Donovan burst onto the scene as a bright-eyed 20-year-old at the 2002 World Cup. In the United States’ opening match, Donovan helped shock Portugal with a 3-2 win. Donovan’s World Cup debut included a cross that was deflected by Jorge Costa and in the net, giving the U.S. and early 2-0 lead.
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Donovan scored his first official World Cup goal two matches later, netting a consolation goal in the United States’ 3-1 loss to Poland. Despite the loss, the U.S. advanced from the group stage, taking on Mexico in the knockout round.
Against archrival Mexico, Donovan helped lead the U.S. to another surprise victory, this time scoring off a header in the 65th minute to expand the lead to 2-0.
Fast forward to 50 seconds to check out Donovan’s goal.
While the United States was eliminated by Germany in the quarterfinals, the tournament was a massive success for both the team and Landon Donovan. Donovan’s play earned him the trophy for Best Young Player of the tournament, joining the likes of Pele and Franz Beckenbauer to win the award.
By 2006, Donovan was the United States’ all-time leader in assists. With high hopes after a brilliant run in 02’ Germany was a difficult World Cup for the Americans. The U.S. was the only team to earn a point against champions Italy, yet still finished last in their group. Despite the disappointing finish, Donovan led the midfield while playing every minute of the United States’ three games.
South Africa played host to the 2010 World Cup, where Landon Donovan helped the U.S. win their group for the first time since 1930.
Down 2-0 in their opening match against Slovenia, Donovan started an American comeback with a blistering shot into the top of the net. The United States would come back to tie the game 2-2 and earn a much needed point.
Skip to 0:50 for Donovan’s brilliant strike.
Despite Donovan’s superb effort against Slovenia, he is remembered most for his stoppage-time winner against Algeria. In need of points to advance and with time winding down, Donovan scored arguably the most important goal in United States soccer history.
The video still brings chills.
Donovan would finish his World Cup career with a goal from the spot against Ghana, a dramatic extra-time loss for the U.S.
His five World Cup goals are the most for an American player, and he is the only American to win the tournament’s Best Young Player award. But more than his goals and awards is what he has done for American soccer as a whole.
The 2002 World Cup marked the United States’ arrival on the world soccer stage, and it’s no coincidence Landon Donovan helped lead the way. His goal against Algeria is cemented as one of the biggest moments in U.S. soccer history, just as his legacy is as this country’s greatest player.