USA settles for 1-1 draw with Ecuador in Landon Donovan's farewell
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Landon Donovan ran onto a backheel pass from Jozy Altidore in the 25th minute, looked at the goal from 12 yards and drove in a right-footed shot in like he had so many times before.
Storybook ending? Not this time.
The ball clanked off a post, and Donovan couldn't beat Ecuador goalkeeper Maximo Banguera to the rebound. Sixteen minutes later, the most-accomplished national team career of an American player came to an end.
Donovan was applauded and cheered by the crowd of 36,265 at Rentschler Field on Friday night, when he couldn't add to his American records of 57 international goals and 58 assists.
"I was watching Jeter a few weeks back. I thought that would be a perfect way to score a goal, but unfortunately it didn't happen tonight," Donovan said, a reference to the winning hit by Yankees captain Derek Jeter in his final home game.
After the 1-1 draw ended, he hugged each of his teammates in the center of field, then took a slow lap around the field, using the sleeves of his sweat top to dab the tears from his eyes. In front of the benches, he hugged what appeared to be family members, and then he climbed in front of the stands behind a goal to lead the American Outlaws supporters in a chant of "I Believe That We Will Win!"
Donovan did contribute to Mix Diskerud's fifth-minute goal. Donovan crossed the ball from the left flank, and Altidore failed to connect. DeAndre Yedlin, the 21-year-old defender who is among the top American players of the next generation, played the ball in front of the goal, where Diskerud scored from 12 yards.
Ecuador gained the tie when Enner Valencia scored in the 88th minute with a shot from outside the penalty area that curled around defender Tim Ream and bounced in, with goalkeeper Brad Guzan about 3 yards away. Donovan, who is retiring after Major League Soccer's season, was serenaded during the exhibition by fans chanting "Thank You Landon!" and they gave him a minute-long standing ovation when he was replaced by Joe Corona.
Donovan was congratulated by teammates before he left the field, handed the captain's armband to Altidore and then exchanged a brief handshake and hug with Jurgen Klinsmann, the coach who controversially cut him from the roster in May and denied Donovan what would have been a fourth World Cup trip.
While Donovan and Klinsmann have had a strained relationship since the May 22 decision to leave the 32-year-old Los Angeles Galaxy forward off the World Cup roster, U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati persuaded Donovan to put aside his anger and return for the testimonial. Donovan's 157th international appearance left him second among American men, behind only Cobi Jones' 164.
Before kickoff, Gulati presented Donovan with a collage of 19 U.S. jerseys from his career, framed with redwood, the state tree of Donovan's native California. The jerseys were mounted on an oak, the Connecticut state tree, and the names of Donovan's U.S. teammates were etched in the oak.
NOTES: MF Joe Gyau went down in the 15th minute with what the USSF said was a sprained left knee and was replaced by Bobby Wood. Gyau left the field on crutches. Gyau, 22, was making his second start for the U.S., as was D Greg Garza. ... Guzan made a point-blank save on Renato Ibarra in the 27th minute after the attacker got by D Timmy Chandler.
Here's how Donovan's U.S. farewell unfolded: