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Landon's Last Stand: The Final Home Game

Paolo Uggetti |
October 20, 2014 | 1:11 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Landon Donovan's last regular season home match. (@worldsoccershop/Twitter)
Landon Donovan's last regular season home match. (@worldsoccershop/Twitter)

There’s a reason the phrase goes, “For club and country…”, and not, “For country and club…”

For lack of better terms, in the world of soccer, playing for your club is essentially your boarding school, while playing for your country is your summer camp. 

On Oct. 10, the soccer world bid farewell to Landon Donovan’s international career. From the U-17 days, to the goal that will live in infamy, to the Klinsmann controversies, Donovan’s summer camp tenure had ended.

On Sunday night, it was turn for his boarding school graduation.

No Klinsmann to speak of, no World Cup to debate about. Not even David Beckham—who chose to spend the night at the Lakers’ preseason game—could overshadow the man who has scored the most goals and parlayed it with the most assists in Major League Soccer history

Sunday night was Donovan’s night. 

Sure, some of Donovan’s most memorable moments came sporting the red, white and blue, but most of his dirty work and perhaps his most impressive and consistent craft, came in the league he helped build, for the club he has always seemed to represent. 

Donovan had withstood everything from coaching swaps to uniform alterations, from sponsorship switches to color changes. He has long since been the symbol of familiarity and consistency in a league that has become so enamored with change and evolution. 

On Sunday night, it all came full circle as Major League Soccer said goodbye to its prodigal son. 


The aptly-named StubHub Center had been sold out. The #ThanksLD hashtags were everywhere from banners to awkwardly-shaped headgear, to even on the pitch itself. 

After nine years of devout servitude, the moment had finally come for Landon Donovan. His final regular season home game had arrived, and unlike Derek Jeter’s, this one counted. 

The Supporter’s Shield was up for grabs. 

The Supporter’s Shield is awarded to the team with the best overall regular-season record. It just so happens to be that the two teams with the best records and the same amount of points (60) coming into the match were the Los Angeles Galaxy (17-6-9) and the Seattle Sounders (19-10-3).                

To decide who gets this “coveted” shield, the teams play back-to-back games in each other’s home fields to settle things out. Sunday night was the first match, and it lived up to the hype. The two best teams in the game played that way. The only problem was, they both picked a half in which to do so. 

The first-half action was as entertaining as it could be, as Landon reacquainted himself with a friend he knows all too well: the crossbar. His ninth-minute header was oh-so close to bringing the house down and kickstarting the perfect script to his regular-season finale. 

But though Landon could not find the goal that every single fan in attendance desperately wanted him to, his teammates did. 

After an incredibly competitive and aggressive first half that saw four yellow cards get shown in the first 36 minutes, the Galaxy found the opener as the half came to a close. Midfielder Baggio Husidic deposited a ground-hugging shot into the corner of the goal, past the Sounders keeper who was too slow to react. 

It didn’t take long for the second goal to arrive after halftime, when Husidic was in the midst of things again. This time it was Donovan’s corner that led to Hasidic assisting Marcelo Sarvas’ third goal of the season; an absolutely clinical strike

The 2-0 lead was theirs, and the crowd was up in the air chanting, dancing, screaming Donovan’s name. The captain’s on-the-field action didn’t do much to incite the crowd, but his presence alone did the job just fine. 

American teammates Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey battled for the Supporter's Shield (@FOXSoccer/Twitter)
American teammates Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey battled for the Supporter's Shield (@FOXSoccer/Twitter)

His team, however, did not end up doing just fine. 

In most cruel and ironic fashion, it would be Donovan’s American teammates who would initiate his team’s second-half collapse. 

In the 69th minute, young breakout star DeAndre Yedlin took the ball down the right side of the pitch, evaded Donovan as if he was never truly there and placed a cross into the box that eventually landed at Clint Dempsey’s—who else?—feet. 

Dempsey decisively converted, and it was all Sounders from there on out. Just three minutes later, they found the equalizer. 

“It was a pretty even game, it was a battle,” Coach Bruce Arena ceded. “But [in the second half] they came out a little bit more aggressive.” 

In the 88th minute, another one of Donovan’s international teammates downed his team’s chances of squeaking out a win. Defender Omar Gonzalez’s challenge was more than the ref could apparently handle as he pulled out a second yellow for Gonzalez and a subsequent red.

“A terrible call,” a disappointed Arena said afterwards. “Just a poor piece of officiating.”

Now with two unanswered goals and a man down, not even Donovan could save this team from the inevitable and final 2-2 draw. 

“We’re disappointed for sure”, said Donovan. “For whatever reason our energy level dropped in the second half.” 

It is a result that puts the Sounders in the driver’s seat, now needing only a draw at home to secure the Supporter’s Shield and a far more important home-field advantage if they make the final. 

But the Galaxy have yet to lose hope, and Donovan knows that the distractions recently surrounding him, whatever their impact, will now diminish.

“It’s incumbent upon me now to get back to the soccer part,” he confessed. “I’m gonna appreciate and enjoy this, but now it’s time to get back to soccer.”

Donovan’s takeaway from his last ever regular season game, seems anticlimactic and forgettable, but it is actually fitting. 

Landon Donnovan speaking after his final regular season home game (Paolo Uggetti/Neon Tommy)
Landon Donnovan speaking after his final regular season home game (Paolo Uggetti/Neon Tommy)

For a player that never sought to stand out or be in the public eye, Donovan’s past few weeks have placed him in an uncomfortable position.

Deservedly so, the media attention has been at an all-time high for the Orange County native, but for those who have followed his illustrous career, they know it’s not necessarily where he likes to be. 

“It’s been a long two weeks for me,” he admitted. “I wore out as that game went on, and I need to now step back and focus.” 

Fortunately for Donovan his team gets a chance at redemption in Seattle, and even if they do not attain the Shield, there’s still more soccer to be played. Yes, even here in Los Angeles.  

“It is not the end of the world,” Donovan reminded everyone. “In the end, we will move on and get ready for next week.” 

A short ceremony followed the tough match where Donovan received gifts from the team, including a painting of him celebrating a goal. Donovan thanked the crowd for their great support and was overwhelmed by the cheers. 

“I’m frustrated professionally tonight because of the result”, admitted Donovan. “But I would not let it take away from all the amazing things that happened tonight. The atmosphere was amazing.”

Sunday night’s final scoreline may have spoiled the perfect ending to Donovan’s outstanding club career, but the beauty of it is that both Donovan’s and the team’s long-term success has made sure that this is not the end.

No. 10 will have a couple more home games before he officially hangs his boots for good, and with the playoffs on the horizon, I’m sure Donovan wishes the team would have held off on the painting.

That way they could have made one that depicts him how he truly wants to depart and be remembered. With the cup above his shoulders, signifying all that he has ever cared about and all that he has ever brought to this franchise since arriving in 2005: Winning.


The Galaxy crowd at the stadium is exceptionally coordinated at chanting. Every time a player scores, the PA announcer belts the player’s first name, to which the crowd responds with his last name, in perfect, boisterous unison. 

In the 10th minute of this match, they honored the one who wears that number on his back, and took their chanting to another level. 

“Landon!”, chanted the North side.

“Donovan!”, responded the South side. 

On and on until the clock did not read "10" anymore. 

“This has all been incredible, and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said referring to atmosphere during the match. “But I want to finish the season right.”

To him, finishing the season right only has one single definition. 

And if Donovan brings the team yet another MLS championship, they might not ever stop chanting his name. 

Reach Staff Reporter/Web Producer Paolo Uggetti here or follow him on Twitter.



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