Landon Donovan said his dwindling passion for playing prompted his decision to retire at the end of the MLS season. But he has a clear vision for how he wants to end his career - with a championship.
The spotlight will on the league's all-time leading scorer when the Los Angeles Galaxy seek a seventh home win in nine tries Friday night against the San Jose Earthquakes.
The 32-year-old announced Thursday his intentions to hang up his cleats at the end of the season. Donovan was less than 24 hours removed from scoring the winning goal and earning MVP honors in a 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich in his 14th MLS All-Star game.
He said his "gut told him it was the right time."
"Now it's time to enjoy the rest of the season and there'd be no better way than to go out a champion," the five-time MLS Cup winner said.
Donovan, who scored his 135th and 136th goals in a 4-1 win over Philadelphia on May 25 to surpass Jeff Cunningham for the league's all-time record, has four goals and seven assists on the season. Though U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann left him off this year's World Cup roster in a surprising decision, Donovan starred as the face of American soccer for more than a decade. He is the country's leading scorer with 57 goals in 156 appearances.
"It's an unbelievable legacy," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "I have a hard time thinking that there's another American player that's accomplished as much as Landon has."
Donovan, who spent 2001-04 with San Jose, has eight goals in 16 regular-season matchups with the Earthquakes. He has four goals and seven assists in 16 league matches this year.
The Galaxy totaled eight goals during a 2-3-3 start but have scored a league-high 24 while going 7-1-3 since. They've pulled into a tie with FC Dallas for third place in the Western Conference and have been particularly dominant during a 4-1-0 stretch, outscoring opponents 13-4.
"I think we're playing well on both sides of the ball," Arena told the team's official website. "Defensively we've been air-tight. In the attack we're finally converting the opportunities we've created, so we're starting to score goals."
Robbie Keane scored twice in a 3-1 home win over Portland on Saturday, increasing his season total to 12. Keane has four goals and four assists in seven regular-season matches against San Jose.
Los Angeles (9-4-6) can clinch the California Clasico after claiming a 1-0 road win over the Earthquakes (6-8-5) on June 28. Gyasi Zardes scored in the 61st minute, one of seven goals in his last eight matches.
San Jose striker Chris Wondolowski missed that contest while representing the U.S. in the World Cup. Usually known more for his goal-scoring prowess, Wondolowski has assisted on goals in back-to-back victories for the Earthquakes. However, San Jose is still tied for last in the conference.
Wondolowski found Yannick Djalo for his goal in the 32nd minute in Saturday's 1-0 home win over West-leading Seattle. Wondolowski's 79 regular-season goals since the beginning of 2010 are 21 more than the next highest total.
"He's been getting better and better every year," coach Mark Watson told the team's official website. "He's primarily been about goals, but I think his general play has gotten better and better."
Los Angeles is 6-0-2 in its last eight home matches while San Jose is 1-4-2 on the road and has been shut out four times.