If all goes as planned, United States soccer legend Landon Donovan will play his final Major League Soccer regular-season game Oct. 25 in Seattle against Sounders FC.
On Thursday, Donovan announced that he will retire at the end of this season. However, that final match sets up as if it was planned all along. The game will be played with CenturyLink Field opened to its full 67,000-plus capacity, and NBC will broadcast the game nationally.
Donovan will retire as the leading scorer in the history of both the U.S. national team and MLS.
On Wednesday, he scored the goal that sent the MLS All-Stars past Bayern Munich, 2-1, and he was voted the game’s most valuable player.
However, the next day he was at a press conference in Los Angeles, announcing that he will end his playing career.
“After careful deliberation and many conversations with those closest to me, I have decided that this will be my last season as a professional soccer player,” Donovan said. “It has been more than anything I could have dreamed of to represent the L.A. Galaxy, the San Jose Earthquakes, Everton, U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer throughout my career.”
Donovan, 32, has recorded 132 goals and 124 assists in MLS, both league records. Two of those goals and three of those assists came against the Sounders.
He played on teams that won five MLS Cups, two Supporters Shields and one U.S. Open Cup. He was named to the MLS Best XI six times, most recently in 2012. He was the league MVP in 2009 and its goals leader in 2008. Wednesday marked his league-record 14th consecutive All-Star Game.
MLS commissioner Don Garber said through a written statement that the league will celebrate Donovan’s career through the second half of the season.
“His decision to join MLS in 2001 was a statement to the entire soccer community, in that most crucial time in our history, that MLS could be a league of choice for the best American players,” Garber wrote. “Landon is to MLS what Michael Jordan was to the NBA, Wayne Gretzky was to the NHL, and Tiger Woods was to the PGA
Donovan also tops the national team’s record book with 57 goals and 57 assists. His 156 caps rank second, eight behind Cobi Jones.
“I think he’ll be known as the best (U.S.) player and most impactful in this generation,” Sounders FC sporting director Chris Henderson said. “… He won at club level. He won at international tournaments. When you’re done with your career, they will ask what you won. And Landon won quite a bit. There is going to be a lot of celebrating the career he’s had, and I’m sure he’s going to try and go out on top.”
Sounders veteran David Estrada was traded to D.C. United on Thursday for a third-round pick in the 2017 SuperDraft. Estrada, 26, made 41 appearances and scored five goals with Seattle since the club selected him with the 11th overall pick of the 2010 SuperDraft. He scored all five goals in 2012, including a hat trick against Toronto FC. He played five minutes in one MLS appearance this season, as the club began using him as a defender and sent him on loans to third-division USL Pro. … After an off day, the Sounders will return to training Friday, continuing preparations for their home match at 7:30 p.m. Sunday against the Houston Dynamo.