Landon Donovan arrived in the United States soccer consciousness during our quarterfinal run at the 2002 World Cup which ironically still stands as the USMNT’s greatest accomplishment. LD was 20, skillful, precocious and seemed destined to carry us to genuine success in the beautiful game. For the next decade plus, he was our talisman, leading goal scorer, most recognizable player and an enigma.
In 2010, he scored an iconic goal against Algeria to advance to the knock out stage in South Africa. It was vintage LD, a goal produced by his special blend of speed, tenacity and timing. Speed, tenacity and timing though do not dictate matches or craft a style of play, and Donovan’s skills served not to revolutionize soccer in the United States, but rather as part of a longer evolution.
For all of his accomplishments, his career will be defined as much by what didn’t happen. With the exception of a genuinely scintillating ten week loan at Everton, LD never gained a foothold in Europe.
More tragically, he was excluded from the USMNT in Brazil. This was evidently the result of a personality conflict, but still bitter to accept as LD seems a respected teammate and I for one would have favored him doing more than Wondolowski in the dying minutes against Belgium.