Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
Edited by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
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Just like every other sport, soccer is viewed in generations and cultures. From the past to the present, some of soccer’s greatest include Diego Maradona, Pelé, Kaká, Christiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Lionel Messi. While those talents can be considered in a class of their own, it took a long time before the United States found their soccer pride in a young Californian named Landon Donovan.
During this past Major League Soccer season, Donovan announced that he would be retiring from the game of soccer at the conclusion of the 2014 campaign. Due to an impressive roster and being lead by arguably the greatest American soccer player to ever live, the Los Angeles Galaxy sent Donovan out on a high note as they defeated the New England Revolution on Sunday, 2-1, to captured their third MLS Cup in four years.
After following Donovan’s successful career over the last decade, it seemed as if that was the only true way that he could go out, on top. During his 16-year career, Donovan has competed for Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich of the German Bundesliga, Everton Football Club of the English Premier League, and most notably of all, the San Jose Earthquakes and the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer.
While always seeming to provide a spark in the Bundesliga and English Premier League, Donovan especially excelled back in the United States where he captured six MLS Cups and four U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year awards. He is also Major League Soccer’s all-time leading goal scorer with 169 goals and competed in three FIFA World Cups with the U.S. Men’s National Team, in which he leads the team’s history in goals scored (57), appearances and assists.
As I have spoken of many times before, many athletes nowadays tend to get caught up in the fame and fortune and lose sight of what they truly love. Having the opportunity to experience Donovan playing in person multiple times at Crew Stadium and to watch him lead the U.S. Men’s National Team through many thrilling International/World Cup matches has shown me that even at the age of 32, Donovan has never lost his passion.
Whether it is representing his club on the pitch or conducting a post-game interview, you can tell that Donovan loves the game and that he is passionate about making soccer more popular in this wonderful country of ours. Whether he ever meant to or not, Landon Donovan has become the ambassador of American soccer and with the way he has represented himself on and off the pitch over the years, he has done more for the sport than he will ever know.
On behalf of ‘Our Sports Report’, I want to congratulate Landon Donovan on winning his sixth MLS Cup and completing one of the greatest careers that any American soccer player has ever turned in. Even though we may never see an athlete or a humanitarian quite like Donovan ever again, we have to remember what we witnessed and how special it really was.