Galaxy coach Bruce Arena on Monday said Donovan will "definitely" play for Los Angeles this season, seemingly ending months of speculation about the 30-year-old's future.
"We’ve given him a little more time off,” Arena said (via LAGalaxy.com). “He’s definitely playing this year, but we’re just working out a return date that makes sense for all of us—we’re working that out soon.”
Donovan spoke about retirement in a May 2012 interview with Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl. At the time he spoke of being "excited to pass the torch" to the younger generation of American soccer players.
In October, he told ESPN FC that he has "struggled with motivation" at times. In August, he spoke with Goal.com about his MLS contract expiring after the 2013 season. He spoke about his options after that, including retirement or a move abroad.
"Why wouldn't I (consider retirement)?" he said.
To answer Donovan's question, he shouldn't consider retirement because he can still perform on the pitch. In 2012 he led the Galaxy as captain to their second straight MLS Cup title and earned a spot in the MLS Best XI.
That being said, Donovan has already done enough to warrant an early retirement—if he chose to do so.
During a sparkling MLS career, Donovan has won five MLS Cups (three with the Galaxy and two more with the San Jose Earthquakes) and one U.S. Open Cup.
He also impressed with English Premier League side Everton in two loan spells, first in 2010 and again in 2012.
At the international level, Donovan is a veteran of three World Cups with the United States and a seven-time winner of the Honda Player of the Year award given to the national team's best player.
At age 20, he played a starring role in the Americans' run to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup (a team coached by Arena). Eight years later he led the U.S. comeback against Slovenia and scored the famous game-winning goal against Algeria in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup.
In other words, he has built a glittering resume in a long professional career that began with Bayer Leverkusen way back in 1999. He has also earned the respect of those who would replace him.
“He is arguably the greatest national team player we’ve ever had," American international midfielder Graham Zusi said last October (via New York Times).
At this point in his career, Donovan has earned the right to do whatever he wants, whether that means retirement, another season in MLS or a move abroad. The U.S. national team is now the domain of Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey. But Donovan—and this will make any of us feel old—is its living, playing legend, an elder statesman who deservedly draws immense respect.
For those of us who would like to watch him play a full season against English Premier League competition, seeing Donovan spend another year in Southern California is at least better than the alternative.
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