CARSON, Calif. – Now that the 2014 season is over and the LA Galaxy are once again champions of MLS, LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano will look back on the season with his review on each position. Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes will each have their own review.
The LA Galaxy Insider Year in Review will begin with goalkeepers and then move up the field to defenders, midfielders, forwards, and finally, coaches.
APPPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS:
- GP: 39 (31 in MLS regular season, five in MLS Cup Playoffs, two in CONCACAF Champions League and one in U.S. Open Cup)
- GS: 37 (30 in MLS regular season, five in MLS Cup Playoffs and two in CONCACAF Champions League)
- G: 13 (10 in MLS regular season and three in MLS Cup Playoffs)
- A: 23 (19 in MLS regular season, two in MLS Cup Playoffs and two in CONCACAF Champions League)
Landon Donovan’s last season as a professional ended in perfect fashion—with memorable goals and an MLS Cup championship.
In his first game back after suffering the heartbreak of being omitted from the U.S. National Team’s squad at the 2014 World Cup, Donovan became the new MLS all-time regular season goal-scoring king with a pair of tallies against the Philadelphia Union. Although his form dipped after breaking the record, Donovan discovered a new sense of vigor after announcing his intention to retire at season’s end just one day after earning the 2014 MLS All-Star Game MVP award for his role in the league’s victory over German power Bayern Munich.
Fueled by the realization that he was playing in his final season, Donovan set another record on Oct. 4 when he became the league’s all-time assist king. Just days after setting the record, Donovan had his chance to bid farewell to the U.S. National Team with his 157th and final cap for the red, white and blue in their friendly against Ecuador.
Once the postseason began, the Galaxy and Donovan were determined to deliver the Hollywood ending his career deserved. As he had time and time again in a Galaxy kit, Donovan showed up in big games as he scored three goals in the club’s Western Conference semifinal second leg victory over Real Salt Lake and then delivered the assist on Juninho’s goal against Seattle Sounders FC to send LA to MLS Cup.
Due to his contributions in the playoffs, Donovan received the sendoff that he dearly wanted, lifting the MLS Cup trophy aloft in front his home crowd.
By winning MLS Cup, Landon Donovan received a fairy tale ending to his illustrious professional career, but the forward’s final season was very much one of peaks and valleys.
Donovan sputtered at the start of the season as he went scoreless in the club’s first seven MLS games and their two-leg CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal defeat to Club Tijuana. Despite his inability to find the back of the net, Donovan earned a call to the U.S. National Team’s training camp for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but his bid to reach his fifth tournament fell painfully short when he was surprisingly dismissed after two weeks. The omission of the U.S. Soccer legend sent shockwaves throughout the American soccer world and for many will come to define Donovan’s final professional season.
When he ultimately returned from U.S. duty, Donovan broke his scoring duck by grabbing two goals in a victory over the Philadelphia Union to set a new MLS regular season goal scoring mark. He scored again a game later, but soon fell into a four-game scoring drought that eventually saw him benched for LA’s July 16 match. However, the veteran soon regained his form after announcing his intention to retire at the end of the 2014 campaign, but once again saw his production dint in the team’s final three games of the season.
The retiring Landon Donovan rode into the sunset a champion and the journey that he took to get there was simply unforgettable.
From the omission of the U.S. National Team’s 2014 FIFA World Cup squad to solidifying himself as the all-time MLS scoring king, and then winning a sixth MLS Cup, Donovan endured a rollercoaster final 12 months as a professional. In the end, Donovan will be remembered as not only the best player in LA Galaxy history but also the best that MLS or the U.S. National Team has to offer. Donovan’s final stat sheet confirms his mammoth place on the U.S. Soccer pantheon as the legendary striker tallied 231 goals and 209 assists for club and country during his more than decade long career.
While someone else may don the LA Galaxy No. 10 in the future and another player may earn adulation from the club faithful, no player will ever embody the Galaxy quite like Donovan ever again.