León (Primera Division)
#20 | Midfielder/Forward
March 4, 1982 (Age: 35)
5' 9", 155 lbs (1.75 m, 70 kg)
Landon Donovan became one of the youngest American soccer players to begin his career overseas when he signed with Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen as a 16-year old. Upon signing with the club in 1999, it was believed that the US Youth Team star would immediately make an impact with the squad in their reserve squads, and he did, playing with fellow American John Thorrington.
Prior to the 2000 season, Donovan was listed on the first team roster, and it was thought that there'd be a good chance to see Donovan in action. It wasn't to be, however, as he sat the bench and didn't see any first team action in 2000 and continued in the reserves.
Following that, Donovan began to get frustrated and turned to Major League Soccer. MLS worked out a deal with Bayer Leverkusen that would keep him the property of the German club, but allowed him to play closer to home, with the San Jose Earthquakes.
Donovan's move immediately made an impact for the club, as his pace and skill took a last-place squad to their first MLS Cup championship in 2001, with Donovan placing second on the squad in goals scored. Earlier in the season, his breathtaking performance in the All-Star game was highlighted by a four-goal outburst which was punctuated with his "sports bra" display.
The 2002 season was interrupted partially by the 2002 World Cup, limiting Donovan to playing only 20 games for the Earthquakes - he scored seven goals that season.
Donovan put on a remarkable display in 2003, leading the Earthquakes to yet another MLS Cup victory, and earning the title of the Earthquake's Most Valuable Player. This time around it was Donovan's turn to shine in the MLS Cup, as he was named MVP after scoring two goals in their dismantling of the Chicago Fire at the brand new Victoria Street in Carson, California.
On November 23rd, 2004, Donovan announced his plans to rejoin Bayer Leverkusen and joined the side in early January 2005.
However, after not impressing after only nine European matches, he was reaquired by MLS on March 31st and allocated to California club Los Angeles Galaxy. There he had one of the best seasons of his career, scoring 12 goals and notching 10 assists in only 22 games in 2005.
Donovan would continue on with the Galaxy and was briefly joined by star David Beckham during the 2008 season even though the Galaxy would fail to make the playoffs. Despite the team failure, Donovan shined all season, notching 20 goals in a mere 25 games.
Following the 2008 MLS season, Donovan agreed to an offer to be loaned to Bayern Munich until the start of the next MLS season. Despite much fanfare for the move, his time back in Germany was a disappointment as he played in only six matches in all competitions for the Munich club and became a pawn in a political battle between manager Juergen Klinsmann and Bayern's upper management.
The 2009 MLS season saw a much improved Galaxy team that finished one point behind the Columbus Crew in the race for the Supporters Shield. Donovan's season-long performance was enough to earn league MVP honors for the first time in his career. The Galaxy marched to the MLS Cup final, but fell to Real Salt Lake in penalties, which included a key miss from Donovan.
Donovan proceeded to sign a four-year extension with the Galaxy, but with provisions that would allow him to go on loan to European clubs during the offseason. He took advantage of this immediately after the season and joined Everton. He was a sensation at the Merseyside club and quickly earned Player of the Month honors in January. Although Everton were eager to extend his loan, Donovan was recalled by the Galaxy in time for the start of the 2010 season.
In January 2018, Donovan came out of retirement for a second to sign a one-year deal with Liga MX team Club Leon.
Landon Donovan found the going fairly easy at the beginning of his international career as he joined the US Under-17 National team in 1998 and promptly led the team in goals and assists in his first season with the squad. His first international goal came in his very first match, against Mexico's U-17 squad that was only a precursor of what was to be in his not so distant future.
Donovan's performance in the 1999 U-17 FIFA World Championship showed the world what was he was capable of, as he won the Golden Ball (awarded to the tournament's most valuable player).
His foray in to the U-20 squad was less impressive on a team level. After the fourth-place finish in the U-17 championships, the U-20 squad could only manage to make it to the second round.
His role changed to mainly a midfielder position during this tournament and his chances at goal declined substantially. In 2000 his performance for the Olympic side that traveled to Sydney was average, but his chances were limited as he started only four of the six matches in Australia due to coach Clive Charles' team strategy.
Donovan really did explode onto the senior US Men's National Team side as he became only the sixth man to ever score in his first cap, once again against Mexico during a 2-0 US victory in October of 2000.
He was constantly called in to camps for the World Cup Qualifying campaigns, and he eventually showed his worth when he drew the penalty that lead to the winning score in the 2-1 victory of Jamaica that qualified the United State for the 2002 World Cup.
The 2002 World Cup was where Donovan made his mark on the world, just like the rest of the US National Team. His brilliant play in the 3-2 victory over one of the pre-tournament favorites - Portugal - to start off his first World Cup was the beginning of a great run which saw the US reach the quarterfinals. His first WC goal came in the 3-1 loss to Poland, and he scored again in the elimination round against CONCACAF rival Mexico to conclude the 2-0 defeat of El Tri.
Perhaps his best game was played against Germany, and although the US lost the game it was Donovan constantly running at their defense that put a sincere scare in the Germans and showed that the Americans belonged. He finished up the year with his first US Soccer Male Athlete of the Year award.
2003 saw Donovan lead the squad in scoring; registering seven goals and five assists to lead the team with 19 points.
He won his second US Soccer Male Athlete of the Year award in 2004 after notching five goals and five assists in 15 games. Donovan then had six goals and six assists in the identical number of matches in 2005, including three goals during their Gold Cup championship run.
Donovan had seven goals and eight assists in 16 qualifying games as the Americans earned another trip to World Cup. In April of 2006, Donovan was named to Bruce Arena's US World Cup squad but this time, failed to make an impact in the three US games as the team crashed out of the tournament early.
In March of 2007, Donovan fired an impressive hat trick to help the US defeat Ecuador.
Later that summer, Donovan would anchor the U.S. victory over Mexico in the final of the Copa America when he coolly converted a penalty kick which equalized the match and saw the U.S. win 2-1 over El Tri.
The attacker reached several personal milestones in 2008. In January, a goal against Sweden, the 35th of his international career, meant that Donovan became the US' all-time leading scorer. Then in a June 2008 friendly against Argentina, he joined the small club of USNT stars to earn his 100 caps. Donovan continues to build his lead in the US scoring charts and currently has 26 more goals than the next active player.
Donovan's next achievement was his effort in the US run to the final of the 2009 Confederations Cup. After a dismal start, the US snuck into the semifinal round after a 3-0 thrashing of Egypt. Donovan played a key role in the NT's legendary upset of Spain and went on to score in the final against Brazil to give the Americans a 2-0 lead. However, the US conceded a trio of goals in the second half and ultimately went down in defeat.
The 2010 World Cup would provide another platform upon which Donovan shined. The outside midfielder scored a stylish goal against Slovenia to spark the US comeback from 0-2 down. In the final group stage match against Algeria, he slammed home a last-gasp rebound, which saved the US from imminent elimination and propelled them to the top of the group standings.
Entering his fourth World Cup cycle, Donovan remains the centerpiece of the US team.