At the end of October, Landon Donovan told ESPN that he needed some time away from the game. Those comments were soon overshadowed by the LA Galaxy reaching the MLS Cup final and David Beckham's surprise announcement that the match would be his last with the club. But in an interview with the LA Times, the Galaxy's 30-year-old captain has reiterated his ambivalence and uncertainty about his professional future, making it sound less like standard end-of-season tiredness and more like a warning of an extended break or even retirement.
From the LA Times:
"I'm going to take as much time as I need and decide if and when I'm ready to come back," he said. "I can't put a time frame on that. If it takes two weeks and I'm ready to go again or two months or a year or two years.
"Or never. I don't know." [...]
"I'm aware of what I'm feeling, what I'm going through," he said. "And if I wake up one day and I say 'you know what? I'm going to come back and play,' then I'll be here within an hour. If that doesn't happen, if I wake up and I say 'you know what? That's enough,' then I'll let the people know who need to know and I'll get on with my life."
Though injuries have made the U.S.'s all-time leading scorer an infrequent member of Jurgen Klinsmann's squad this year, he has already played the most matches of his 12-year MLS career. And he's had another fine season, too -- being named to the league's best XI.
As fruitful as the last few years have been for him, they've also been quite taxing. The 2010 World Cup brought him the increased opportunities and obligations of fame and two winter loan stints at Everton added to his workload as exposure to the Premier League reinvigorated him.
While an increasing number of American players have fought to make careers abroad, homesickness contributed to a younger Landon Donovan's decision to forego life in Europe to be one of the marquee attractions and contributors to the the development of MLS over the last decade. This prompted many critics to question his passion and his latest comments will likely do the same. "People just miss the point," he said six years ago. "I just want to be happy."
The public and press have come to expect an athlete's sport -- their work -- to be their life, but Donovan has never subscribed to that philosophy. It's an outlook more people should share.