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Landon Donovan

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Landon Timothy Donovan (born March 4, 1982) is an American soccer player currently playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy and the United States men’s national team. He has played for Bayer Leverkusen, San Jose Earthquakes, Bayern Munich, and Everton. He usually plays as an attacking midfielder on the right wing or as a withdrawn forward. Though rare, he can also be used as an attacker on the left wing.

A member of the inaugural class of the U.S. Soccer residency program in Bradenton, Florida, Donovan was declared player of the tournament for his role in the United States U17 that finished fourth in the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship, Donovan later signed with the German side Bayer Leverkusen. After six years with the club, the majority of which was spent on loan at the San Jose Earthquakes, Donovan moved to the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2005, though he returned to the Bundesliga for a three-month spell at the start of 2009 on loan to Bayern Munich. He went on loan again from January to March 2010 with English Premier League side Everton, where he scored twice in ten appearances.

For the United States men’s national team, Donovan is the all-time leader in scoring and assists, and has the most caps of all active players. Donovan is the only American player to reach the 50 goals/50 assists mark. He is a four-time winner of the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award (the only male to do so and the first male to win in consecutive years), as well as the only seven-time winner of the Honda Player of the Year award. His goals in the 2010 World Cup made Donovan the highest scoring American player in FIFA World Cup history and the third American player to score in more than one World Cup (after Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey).

Donovan is widely considered to be the best player to ever come out of the United States.

Early years

Donovan was born on March 4, 1982, in Ontario, California, to Donna Kenney-Cash, a special education teacher, and Tim Donovan, a semi-professional ice hockey player originally from Canada.

When Donovan was six, his mother allowed him to join an organized league, and he scored seven goals in his first game. Donovan was a member of Cal Heat – a club based in Rancho Cucamonga under coach Clint Greenwood. In 1997, he was accepted into U.S. Youth Soccer’s Olympic Development Program. He attended Redlands East Valley High School in California. In 1999, Donovan attended the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, part of U.S. Soccer’s training program.

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Club career

Bayer Leverkusen/San Jose Earthquakes Later in 1999 Donovan signed a six-year contract for German club Bayer Leverkusen, whose sporting director Michael Reschke spotted him at a youth tournament in Europe. Despite having the opportunity of a lifetime, Donovan had trouble “adapting to the German culture” and spent much of his time in the U.S. training with the United States U-17 National Team. Unhappy with his situation in Germany, Donovan was loaned to the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer for the 2001 season. In MLS, Donovan had immediate success, leading the Earthquakes to MLS Cup championships in 2001 and 2003 and becoming one of the most recognizable faces of soccer in America. In four years in the league, he scored 32 goals and 29 assists in league play, and 10 goals and six assists in the playoffs. Two of those goals were in the 2003 MLS Cup, a 4–2 Earthquakes triumph over the Chicago Fire. Donovan earned Man of the Match for his actions. He was named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year in 2003.

In 2004 Donovan became the first man to be named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year three years in a row, before returning to Bayer Leverkusen in 2005. After playing seven games with Leverkusen, only two of which were starts, Donovan stated his intentions to return to MLS. Despite a late offer from English club Portsmouth, Bayer Leverkusen officials respected his wishes. However, because San Jose GM Alexi Lalas had traded away Donovan’s rights, the Los Angeles Galaxy, his hometown team, were able to trade leading scorer Carlos Ruiz to FC Dallas to get on top of the MLS allocation order one week before the season started.

Landon Donovan

Los Angeles Galaxy

In his first season with the Galaxy, Donovan scored twelve league goals and ten assists and added four goals and an assist in the playoffs as the Galaxy won the MLS Cup (his third MLS championship to date). He was named to the MLS All-Time Best XI after the season. In his second season with the Galaxy, Donovan scored twelve league goals and eight assists. Donovan also scored three goals in the Open Cup. Despite this, Donovan and the Galaxy failed to make the playoffs and lost in the Open Cup to Chicago Fire. Donovan’s playoff goals make him MLS’ second all-time leading scorer in the playoffs with fourteen, behind Carlos Ruiz with fifteen.Donovan had a mixed year with the Galaxy in 2007. Upon the signing and arrival of David Beckham, Donovan relinquished his captaincy to the English superstar. In the 2007 Super Liga tournament, Donovan was the top scorer. Donovan scored a goal in every game except for the final. At this point in his career, Donovan had eighty-four all-time regular season goals putting him in seventh place on the league’s all time scoring list. Although the 2008 season was a disappointment for the Galaxy, it was a banner year for Donovan as he scored twenty goals and nine assists in twenty-five games, forming a strong offensive partnership with David Beckham and Edson Buddle.

After his former national team manager Bruce Arena was named Galaxy head coach and Beckham joined AC Milan on loan in early 2009, Donovan once again was given the club captaincy on a permanent basis. In July 2009, Donovan received praise and criticism for his critical comments about Beckham in Sports Illustrated journalist Grant Wahl’s book The David Beckham Experiment, calling Beckham a poor captain and teammate. He later apologized to Beckham for discussing his concerns to a reporter rather than to him directly. The two reconciled upon Beckham’s midseason return to Los Angeles and Donovan enjoyed an outstanding 2009 campaign, winning the league’s Most Valuable Player and MLS Goal of The Year 2009 award and leading the Galaxy to MLS Cup 2009, which they lost on penalties. Following the season Donovan agreed to a four-year extension to his contract with the Galaxy, with clauses that allow him to seek loans during the MLS offseason. On August 1, 2010, Donovan scored the 100th goal of his MLS career. On September 18, 2010, he became the all-time leading scorer for the LA Galaxy.

The Galaxy had another successful campaign in 2010 winning the Supporters’ Shield for the first time since 2003. In that campaign, Donovan notched 7 goals and a team high 16 assists. In the playoffs, the Galaxy would ultimately succumb to FC Dallas in the semifinals.

In 2011, the Galaxy again won the MLS Supporter’s Shield. In the 2011 MLS Cup, Donovan scored the title-clinching goal in the 72nd minute over the Houston Dynamo, securing his 4th MLS Cup title. Donovan was named the MLS Cup MVP.

In October 2012, Donovan expressed his desire to take a break from his professional soccer career, citing physical and mental exhaustion as the main reasons. In the Galaxy’s next game, the 2012 MLS Cup, a rematch with Houston, Donovan converted a penalty kick in the 65th minute of play to give LA a 2–1 lead. The goal was Donovan’s fifth in MLS Cup Finals. The Galaxy went on to win their second straight MLS Cup, 3–1.

Donovan returned to training with the Galaxy on March 25, 2013 and made his season debut five days later against Toronto FC, coming on as a 61st minute substitute. However, upon his return it was announced that he would be forced to relinquish the captaincy to Robbie Keane for the 2013 season. He scored two goals against C.D. Chivas USA tying him with Jeff Cunningham together as the top MLS goalscorer with 134 goals.

Loans to other clubs

In November 2008 Donovan trained with Bayern Munich, before joining the German club on loan until the start of the 2009 MLS season in mid-March. During his stay with Bayern, Donovan had appearances in five friendly matches, in which he scored four goals, five league games, and one DFB Cup match. At the end of the loan period, Bayern declined to extend his loan.

After the 2009 MLS season had finished, Donovan joined English Premier League side Everton on loan in January 2010, though there was strong suggestions he could join his American teammates at Fulham F.C. During this period, he played in thirteen games in all competitions, scored two goals, and was named the club’s Player of the Month for his performances in January. Everton were keen on extending his loan deal, but the Galaxy refused, and Donovan returned to the US in time for the start of the 2010 MLS season. Everton also wanted to sign Donovan in the summer transfer window but due to lack of funds, no formal offer was made.

An agreement was reached in December 2011 for Donovan to spend another two months at Everton beginning in January 2012. Donovan made his returning debut for Everton on January 4, 2012 against Bolton Wanderers, Everton lost 2–1. In his third game on loan, he assisted Everton’s only goal in a 1–1 draw against Aston Villa on January 14, 2012. On January 27, 2012, Donovan assisted in both goals in a 2–1 win over Fulham in the FA Cup Fourth round Proper. On January 31, 2012, he assisted in Darron Gibson’s winning goal over Manchester City. Donovan took his tally of assists to 7 when he assisted Denis Stracqualursi’s goal in a 2–0 victory over Chelsea on February 11, 2012.

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International career

Donovan was a member of the inaugural class at U.S. Soccer’s full-time residency program at the IMG Academy, in Bradenton, Florida. He won the Golden Ball at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship as the tournament’s best player. In his two years playing for the U-17 team, he scored thirty-five goals in forty-one games. In 2000, he moved up to both the United States U-23 men’s national soccer team as well as the senior team. Despite this he played for the United States U-20 men’s national soccer team in 2001. In March 2001, he was involved in a collision with Marvin Lee, the captain of Trinidad and Tobago national football team U20s in Macoya, Trinidad, which resulted in Lee being paralyzed and broke one of Donovan’s ribs.[36] Lee later died in 2003.

Donovan made his World Cup Finals debut in the 2002 World Cup starting in the shock upset of pre-tournament favorites Portugal, a match the Americans won 3–2. Donovan’s cross in the 29th minute deflected in off Jorge Costa, giving the U.S. a 2–0 lead. Later, Donovan would tally his first World Cup Finals goal in the 83rd minute of a 3–1 loss to Poland in the third match of the group stage. He then scored his second goal of the tournament on a header which clinched a 2–0 “Round of 16” victory for the Americans over arch-rival Mexico. Though the U.S. would go on to lose 1–0 to Germany in the quarterfinals, Donovan would later be named “Best Young Player” of the tournament.

In 2006, he became the United States’ all-time assist leader with twenty-three when he set up Ben Olsen; the previous all-time assist leader was Cobi Jones.

Donovan was a member of the U.S. squad at the 2006 World Cup, in which the Americans were eliminated in the group stage. He led the U.S. to the 2007 Gold Cup title with 4 goals, including a crucial penalty in the 2–1 victory over Mexico in the final. On January 19, 2008, Donovan scored his 35th international goal, a penalty against Sweden, and passed Eric Wynalda as the United States’ all-time leading goal scorer. Donovan reached 100 caps at the age of 26 on June 8, 2008, in a friendly against Argentina that ended in a 0–0 draw, and was the fourth-youngest person to do so.

Donovan captained the U.S. in the group stage of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup due to Carlos Bocanegra’s injury absence. Donovan scored on a penalty kick against Italy, shortly after his team had been reduced to 10 men, and scored for the United States in a 3–2 defeat to Brazil in the final. On October 10, 2009, Donovan scored on a free kick, giving the U.S. a 3–2 victory over Honduras in San Pedro Sula, clinching a berth in the 2010 World Cup.

Donovan was included in the squad for the 2010 World Cup, and played all four games in the United States’ campaign. He scored against Slovenia with a shot straight up into goal past the goalkeeper’s face, in a 2–2 tie, and the only goal in a 1–0 defeat of Algeria off of a rebounded attempt on goal by teammate Clint Dempsey, leading the USA to win their World Cup group for the first time since 1930. Donovan scored a penalty against Ghana as the U.S lost 2–1 after extra time and were eliminated from the competition. His goals in the 2010 World Cup made Donovan the highest scoring American man in World Cup history, and just the third American man to score in more than one World Cup (after Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey). His total of five World Cup goals is the most for any man representing a team from CONCACAF.

After missing the first three World Cup Qualifiers of 2013 due to his self-imposed sabbatical, Donovan was left off of the squad by Jürgen Klinsmann for the June qualifying games despite having returned to playing full-time in March. However, Donovan was re-called to the national team for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup to be played in July. On July 5, 2013, Donovan became the first US player to reach the 50 international goal mark and the fourth man in CONCACAF to score fifty international goals after a brace vs Guatemala in a warmup friendly several days before the start of the Gold Cup. Four days later, Donovan became the first player to reach 50 goals and 50 assists for the United States during a 6-1 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup victory against Belize in which he had one goal and two assists.

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