ORLANDO, Fla. -- It hit me for the first time listening to Landon Donovan on Wednesday: the U.S.'s all-time leading scorer may be closer to the end of his soccer career than any of us thought. Donovan turned 30 in March, and he's back with the national team here for the first time in eight months ahead of the U.S.'s five games between May 26 and June 12.
But Donovan is also a player who freely says that after playing in three World Cups, winning four MLS Cup titles and amassing 138 national team caps, his hunger isn't the same anymore. On Wednesday he spoke of wanting to play two more years with club and country "and then sort of reevaluate it from there," as he put it.
Donovan doesn't give a lot of interviews these days -- and almost never a one-on-one -- but he did sit down with a group of four U.S. journalists for 30 minutes on Wednesday ahead of Saturday's friendly against Scotland in Jacksonville (8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, Galavisión). Donovan was thoughtful and candid, too. Here are several nuggets from the interview, edited for length and clarity:
I know at some point, and I had a small brush with this with Bob [Bradley] last time at the Gold Cup, at some point the time will come when I'm not a first-choice player. And the challenge then will be how do I still make a positive impact? I want to be a positive influence. I want to be someone who they want to call in and want here consistently, regardless of my role.
There's a natural point where it's not as fun anymore, not as enjoyable, and you still try to find ways to keep it enjoyable. I used to think maybe if I'm still fit I can play a long time. I think from a mental standpoint now I'm realizing if I'm not enjoying it I'm not going to play. I still enjoy it to a large extent, but I've always promised myself that if that ever goes away I'm not going to play just to play.
Everybody talks about who's better, Clint [Dempsey] or Landon, all this bulls---. And I want Clint to do well. I want Clint to succeed. I'm happier probably than anybody when he's succeeding. It's good for our team. It's good for our sport. It's great for Clint. Clint's a little bit different of an animal. He still has that crazy hunger to succeed, more so than most. That's great. That's a beautiful thing. The more players we have like that, the better it's going to be.
Post-playing, definitely take some time off initially. If I stay in the soccer world I'd love to coach kids. I'd enjoy that. Perhaps broadcasting would be something I'd like to do. And then outside of soccer there's a lot of things. Serving people. A lot of charitable stuff, helping kids that need it.