|Intro||American soccer player|
|A.K.A.||Landon Timothy Donovan|
|Is||Athlete, Football player, Association football player|
|From||United States of America|
|Birth||4 March 1982, Ontario, California, U.S.A.|
Landon Timothy Donovan (born March 4, 1982) is an American former professional soccer player who played as a forward and attacking midfielder. He holds numerous individual records in Major League Soccer and for the United States national team and is often regarded as the greatest American men’s soccer player of all time.
A native of Southern California, Donovan was a member of the inaugural class of the U.S. Soccer youth residency program in Bradenton, Florida. He was awarded player of the tournament for his role in the United States under-17 squad that finished fourth in the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship before signing with German club Bayer Leverkusen later that year. In 2005, after six years with Bayer, the majority of which were spent on loan with the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer, Donovan moved back to the United States permanently to sign with the Los Angeles Galaxy. He later returned to Germany for a loan with Bayern Munich, and twice went on short loans to English Premier League team Everton in 2010 and 2012. He retired as a player in 2014, but made a brief comeback with LA Galaxy late in the 2016 season.
In Major League Soccer, Donovan won a record six MLS Cups and is both the league’s all-time top scorer with 145 goals and the league’s all-time assists leader with 136. The Major League Soccer MVP Award has been renamed the Landon Donovan MVP Award in his honor.
For the United States men’s national team, Donovan is the all-time leader in asists and tied with Clint Dempsey as all-time leader in scoring, and is the second-most-capped player of his country. 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 man to do so and the first man to win in consecutive years), as well as the only seven-time winner of the Honda Player of the Year award. Donovan starred in the U.S. team that reached the quarter-finals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup where he received the Best Young Player Award. His three goals in the 2010 FIFA World Cup made Donovan the highest scoring male American player in World Cup history and one of the three male American players to score in more than one World Cup (along with Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey).
In March 2017, Donovan joined a private ownership group seeking to bring the next MLS expansion team to San Diego, California.
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Donovan was born (along with twin sister Tristan) 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, which makes Donovan a Canadian citizen by descent. His mother raised Landon and his siblings in Redlands, California and he attended Redlands East Valley High School when not engaged in soccer activities elsewhere.
Donovan first played soccer with his older brother and when Donovan was six, his mother allowed him to join an organized league, where he scored seven goals in his first game. Donovan was a member of Cal Heat – a club based in nearby Rancho Cucamonga under coach Clint Greenwood. In 1997, he was accepted into U.S. Youth Soccer’s Olympic Development Program. In 1999 Donovan attended the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida with other members of the U-17 national team as part of U.S. Soccer’s youth development program.
Bayer Leverkusen and 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 becoming a regular starter for the club’s reserve team upon arrival, Donovan had trouble adapting to life overseas and was allowed extended training periods with United States youth national teams. Unhappy with his situation in Leverkusen, 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 only 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 Athletes of the Year three years in a row before returning to the Bayer Leverkusen first team in January 2005. After playing seven games with Leverkusen in the spring season, only two of which were starts, Donovan requested to leave the club. Despite a late offer from English Premier League club Portsmouth, Donovan expressed a desire to return to the United States. Upon his re-entry to MLS, San Jose was denied the chance to re-sign Donovan because Earthquakes general manager Alexi Lalas had traded away his 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 as Donovan prepared to leave Germany.
Donovan signed a multi-year contract with Los Angeles that made him the highest-paid American player in the league. In his first season with the Galaxy, Donovan scored twelve league goals with 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 SuperLiga 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 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. On May 25, 2014, Donovan scored twice against the Philadelphia Union to break Cunningham’s record of 134, making Donovan Major League Soccer’s All-Time leading goalscorer with 136 goals.
On August 6, 2014, Donovan scored the winning goal at the MLS All Star game, getting the ball past Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer at the 70th minute, he was subsequently substituted for Sporting Kansas City striker Dom Dwyer and gave the captain’s armband to Canadian international Will Johnson. On August 7, 2014, Donovan announced that he would be retiring at the end of the 2014 Major League Soccer season; the season ended with the Galaxy winning their fourth MLS Cup of the Donovan era on December 7, 2014.
Donovan made his first appearance for the Galaxy after coming out of retirement on September 11, 2016, wearing the No. 26 jersey. But then announced that he was going back into retirement.
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 U.S. in time for the start of the 2010 MLS season.
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.
Return to LA Galaxy
On September 8, 2016, Donovan announced his return from retirement and officially signed with the Galaxy for the remainder of the 2016 season (six regular season games and any consecutive play-off matches).
Donovan explained that the injuries sustained by the club late in the season led to his decision to return:
“Two weeks ago, I was working as an analyst on the LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps match and during that game, the Galaxy suffered injuries to three players: Jelle Van Damme, Steven Gerrard and Gyasi Zardes. Over the next few days, Nigel De Jong was transferred to Galatasaray and news broke that Gyasi would be out for the rest of the season.
Since my retirement, I have remained in close contact with many of the staff and players on the Galaxy. I spoke with some of them that week and they jokingly asked if I was ready to make a return to the field to help fill some of the void left by the injuries and departures.
I reminded them that I haven’t played a meaningful soccer game in almost two years and I certainly couldn’t fill the holes left by those players. Over the ensuing days, I began to think about their inquiries and it struck me that perhaps this is something I should consider. I care so deeply about the Galaxy organization, and I believe I could help in a small way to aid the team in its quest for a sixth MLS championship.”
On September 11, 2016, Donovan entered the match against Orlando City as a substitute on the 83rd minute. As his traditional number 10 was worn by Giovani dos Santos, Donovan selected number 26, which he wore at Bayer Leverkusen when he began his career in 1999.
Donovan scored a goal in his second match after returning to the Galaxy. On September 18, 2016, he came on as a substitute in the 74th minute in a match against Sporting Kansas City and scored two minutes later to tie the game 2–2.
Altogether, Donovan played in all six remaining matches of the 2016 regular season, as well as in all three play-off matches. He started in five of them and scored one goal. At the end of the play-off run Donovan retired for the second time.
Donovan was a member of the inaugural class at U.S. Soccer’s full-time residency program for the under-17 national team at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. In his two years playing for the U-17 team, he scored 35 goals in 41 games and won the Golden Ball at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship as the tournament’s best player. 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. On March 20, 2001, he was involved in a collision with Marvin Lee, the captain of Trinidad and Tobago U-20 team during the 2001 CONCACAF U-20 Tournament in Trinidad. Lee collided head to side with Donovan which resulted in Lee being paralyzed after sustaining neck and spine injuries, while Donovan had fractured ribs. Lee died in 2003 from complications caused by his condition, the stadium now carries his name.
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.
Donovan was a member of the U.S. squad at the 2006 World Cup, in which the Americans were eliminated in the group stage. Failing to provide any goals or assists throughout the three games, he was widely criticized by American viewers for his performance. The following year 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 played every minute of the U.S. campaign in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. He scored against Slovenia with a powerful close-range finish to begin a U.S. comeback for a 2–2 draw, and the only goal in the dying seconds of a 1–0 defeat of Algeria with a finish off a rebounded Clint Dempsey attempt, leading the U.S. to first place in their World Cup group for the first time since 1930. Donovan scored a penalty in the round of 16 against Ghana as the U.S. lost 2–1 after extra time and were eliminated from the competition. His goals in South Africa made Donovan the highest scoring American male 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 extended offseason 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 U.S. player to reach the 50 international goal mark and the fourth man in CONCACAF to score 50 international goals after a brace vs Guatemala in a warmup friendly before 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 group stage victory against Belize in which he had one goal and two assists.
After the United States won the Gold Cup title with a victory over Panama, Donovan was awarded the tournament’s Best Player trophy after tying for the tournament lead with 5 goals scored. Donovan was recalled to the full national squad for the first time in over a year for the U.S.’s September World Cup qualifying matches against Costa Rica and Mexico. Donovan started and played 90 minutes in both games. With the U.S. needing a win over Mexico to clinch qualification, Donovan’s corner kick assisted Eddie Johnson’s go-ahead goal in the 57th minute. Then, in the 78th minute, Donovan scored off a low cross from Mix Diskerud to make the score 2–0, and effectively seal the win, and the World Cup berth.
In May 2014 Donovan was named in the preliminary squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and joined the team in training camp. However, on May 22, 2014 Donovan was controversially left off of the final U.S. roster by manager Jürgen Klinsmann. Klinsmann called it “one of the toughest decisions in [his] coaching career”, but stated that “I just think the other guys right now are a little bit ahead of him”. Klinsmann’s decision, which was described by media staff as abruptly timed after Klinsmann had previously promised to wait until after the team’s friendly matches to announce cuts, saw additional controversy when Klinsmann’s son Jonathan published and later deleted a post on Twitter that appeared to ridicule Donovan following the announcement.
On October 10, 2014, Donovan played his 157th and final match for the United States in a friendly against Ecuador in East Hartford, Connecticut. The match was arranged by United States Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati to give Donovan a proper farewell, despite the disagreement between Donovan and Klinsmann. Following his retirement, he was named by The Guardian as the U.S. team’s greatest ever player.
Donovan was a versatile attacker known for his pace and stamina as well as intelligence and technical skill, allowing him to play at various forward and midfield positions at different points of his career. His longtime international and club manager Bruce Arena once stated that “the problem with Landon is that he’s your best player at so many positions that you never know where to put him.”
Particularly in the early parts of his career, Donovan played as a withdrawn striker and was most noted for his quickness and goalscoring ability. As his professional career progressed, Donovan was increasingly utilized by managers as a wide attacking midfielder, where he could additionally benefit the team with his passing vision and defensive work rate. Donovan also possessed capable delivery on set pieces (as well as occasionally scoring from direct kicks) and served as first-choice penalty taker for club and country for much of his career.
Donovan married actress Bianca Kajlich on December 31, 2006; the couple separated in July 2009, and Donovan filed for divorce in December 2010. In May 2015, he married Hannah Bartell. They welcomed their first child, son Talon, in January 2016. Donovan has spoken publicly about dealing with depression throughout his life and career, and has criticized the professional sports world for its approach to mental health issues.
Since joining the Galaxy Donovan has resided in Manhattan Beach, California. He speaks fluent Spanish, which he learned both in school and through playing in Hispanic clubs and leagues while growing up in California. He also speaks German as a result of his time spent in Germany. After his two brief stints playing for Everton in which he became a fan favorite, Donovan declared himself an “Evertonian for life.” Donovan is of Irish descent and his maternal grandmother is from County Kerry.
In July 2015, it was announced that Donovan had been appointed as head coach for a team consisting of young MLS players for the 2015 MLS Homegrown Game. The game took place on July 28, 2015, at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. Donovan led a team of MLS academy graduates, assembled just one day prior, to a 1–1 regulation tie, followed by a 4–5 shootout loss, as reported online. Donovan selected and coached the team a second time in the 2016 edition of the event.
After being left off the 2014 FIFA World Cup roster for the United States, Donovan joined the ESPN broadcast team for the World Cup as a studio analyst.
After his retirement, Donovan became a color commentator for FOX Sports, participating in the network’s coverage of the United States-Ecuador quarterfinal of the Copa América Centenario.
San Jose Earthquakes
- MLS Cup: 2001, 2003
- MLS Cup: 2005, 2011, 2012, 2014
- Supporters’ Shield: 2010, 2011
- Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup: 2005
- FIFA Confederations Cup: Runner-up 2009
- CONCACAF Gold Cup: 2002, 2005, 2007, 2013
- U.S. Soccer Young Athlete of the Year: 2000
- U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year: 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010
- Honda Player of the Year: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
- FIFA U-17 World Cup Golden Ball: 1999
- FIFA World Cup Best Young Player Award: 2002
- FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 2002 (Reserve)
- CONCACAF Gold Cup Best XI: 2002, 2003, 2005, 2013; Honorable Mention 2007
- CONCACAF Gold Cup MVP: 2013
- CONCACAF Gold Cup Top Goalscorer: 2003, 2005, 2013
- Everton Player of the Month: January 2010, January 2012
- MLS All-Time Best XI: Midfielder
- Major League Soccer MVP: 2009
- Major League Soccer All-Time Leading Scorer
- MLS Best XI: 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014
- MLS Cup MVP 2003, 2011
- MLS All-Star Game MVP: 2001, 2014
- MLS Golden Boot: 2008
- MLS Silver Boot: 2010
- MLS Goal of the Year: 2009