Landon Donovan, the U.S. men’s national team’s all-time leader in goals (57) and assists (58), will play one final game in a U.S. jersey on Oct. 10 in East Hartford, Conn., in a friendly against Ecuador.
It’s the right thing to do to honor the best player in U.S. men’s national team history ahead of his retirement from the sport at the end of this MLS season. Donovan, 32, is expected to play 20 to 30 minutes in the game and be honored by the federation for his contributions to U.S. soccer.
There is some intrigue to the story, of course. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann controversially cut Donovan from the World Cup squad in May, and Donovan took a shot at Klinsmann earlier this month during the press conference announcing the player’s retirement. “I certainly wasn’t going to allow one person’s poor choice to impact a decision like this,” Donovan said.
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In June, when Donovan was asked about the possibility of him returning to the national team under Klinsmann, he said: “That depends on a lot of conversations that would have to be held.”
A U.S. Soccer source said he was not aware that Klinsmann and Donovan have yet spoken to each other, but the situation has changed now that Donovan has announced his retirement. U.S. Soccer views Donovan’s national team career as bigger than any issues he has with Klinsmann. The idea of bringing Donovan back for the October game came from U.S. Soccer—most notably federation president Sunil Gulati—and once Klinsmann signed off it wasn’t long before Donovan did too.
"Playing for the U.S. national team has been a huge part of my career and I'm ecstatic to have the opportunity to play for my country one last time,” Donovan said in a U.S. Soccer statement. “I'm so grateful to all the fans that have supported me and this game will give me the chance to say thank you to all of them. I look forward to a great evening and I'm thankful to U.S. Soccer for making this happen."
Donovan is set to earn his 157th U.S. cap in the Ecuador game. This week the U.S. is set to announce another friendly to take place in October, a few days after the Ecuador game, in addition to the roster for next Tuesday's friendly against the Czech Republic. Donovan will not be involved in the second October friendly.