Facing retirement as MLS champion, Landon Donovan has varied emotions

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CARSON, Calif. — When Landon Donovan walked into his final press conference after the LA Galaxy had just won yet another MLS title, one could picture his head held high in absolute pleasure.

But for Donovan, his illustrious career spanning over a decade has completely come to a finish, and with that conclusion, mixed emotions engulfed the longtime American soccer standout.

“I’m in a little bit of a daze, to be honest,” he said. “There’s a lot going on, obvious excitement, some sadness. There’s uncertainty and just pure joy for this team and what we did. And it just feels a bit strange is the best way to put it.”

Donovan played full time in this afternoon’s contest, but didn’t record a goal of his own to perfectly end the storybook narrative fueled by Donovan’s impending retirement.

Although the former Everton man is excited for the future without a commitment to professional soccer, he admits that certain victorious moments, such as this title win, will certainly be missed.

[RELATED: Donovan hopes to finish a champ]

“As much excitement as there is about the game, there’s excitement that tomorrow I don’t have to train anymore. I don’t have to do a lot of things that were the not fun parts of the job. Along with that, I don’t get experiences like today anymore. There’s a lot of good and there’s going to be some bad.”

Donovan could look back at his playing days, rejoicing in his personal accolades and accomplishments, but in the end, he declares that relationships formed with his teammates have served a greater purpose.

“There are so many ups and downs in the season, and when you’re part of a team, you go through so many different things throughout the year, and so you sit next to guys in the locker room, you talk about life. You realize they have things going on off the field, and when you finish a year like this, all of that comes out. It’s family. They really are your family.”

When asked about his strong statistical numbers this season, and whether he could still keep his fitness strong on the pitch, Donovan reiterated the fact that his retirement depended on timing.

With a trophy in hand and old age creeping up, the California native doesn’t see any finer way of vacating his legacy.

“Could I play longer physically if I wanted to? Probably,” Donovan said. “But this feels right for me, so it’s always better to retire than get cut. And I’m fortunate to be able to do that.”