Landon Donovan, who is the all-time leading scorer for the American men’s national soccer team with 57 goals, has ended his short retirement and is returning to the sport. However, Donovan’s return will likely be strictly for league action as he’s returning to the Los Angeles Galaxy of North America’s Major League Soccer (MLS). Donovan retired after helping Los Angeles win the MLS Cup in 2014 and is expected to join the club immediately as it pushes to make the playoffs. Along with being the U.S. leading scorer internationally, Donovan is also leads the MLS all time in goals and assists.
The 34-year-old may need several more days to get into game shape though as he hasn’t been training regularly with the Galaxy’s senior squad. Donovan originally retired six months after he was dropped from the U.S. squad by manager Juergen Klinsmann shortly before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. At the time, the midfielder/forward said he needed a break from the sport as he felt burned out. He’s still eligible to play for the national team, but it’s unlikely he’ll be back in the squad while Klinsmann’s still in charge.
Since he was a free agent, Donovan is eligible to suit up for the Galaxy as soon as his contract has been signed, sealed and delivered. With just five weeks to go in the 2016 MLS campaign, the team’s playoff rosters must be finalized by September 15th. The Galaxy recently released midfielder Nigel de Jong as he left to sign with Galatasaray of the Turkish league. This may be a blessing in disguise for Los Angeles since De Jong would have been eligible for a $6 million, two-year contract extension if he appeared in five of the club’s final six regular-season contests.
The Galaxy saved money by releasing De Jong and it’s assumed some of it was used to entice Donovan out of retirement. It’s still unclear though if Donovan will suit up for just the remainder of the current season or if he’ll also be back next year. Donovan isn’t the only high-profile athlete to return to action after retiring. It happens quite often in professional boxing. In addition, former NFL quarterback Brett Favre retired twice before keeping his word in 2011. Hockey superstar Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins made a comeback to the NHL three years after quitting and basketball great Michael Jordan retired twice from the NBA and returned on both occasions.
There will be something different when Donovan returns to the Galaxy though as he might have to change his uniform number. Giovani dos Santos currently wears number 10, which used to belong to Donovan. As of September 8th, the Galaxy sat in second place of the Western Conference with 44 points, but the squad has been hit hard lately by a spate of injuries to key players such as Gyasi Zardes, Steven Gerrard and Jelle Van Damme. Donovan has 169 MLS goals to his name including postseason markers. He’s the only player in history to hoist the MLS Cup six times and the league’s most valuable player trophy is named after the three-time World Cup veteran.
Donovan’s pro career kicked off in Germany in 1999 with Bayer Leverkusen of the Bundesliga. The club loaned him to the San Jose Earthquakes of MLS two years later and he won a pair of championships with them in 2001 and 2003. Donovan headed back to Germany in 2004, but was transferred to Los Angeles in 2005, where he won another four cups.Tweet
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