CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan's final game of his legendary soccer career followed the Hollywood script that he so desperately sought as his Los Angeles Galaxy won a record fifth MLS Cup on Sunday with a 2-1 extra-time victory over the New England Revolution on home turf at StubHub Center.
"I'm in a little bit of a daze. There's a lot going on," Donovan said of his emotions. "There's a lot of obvious excitement, some sadness. There's uncertainty and just pure joy for this team and for what we did. It just feels a bit strange, I guess, is the best way to put it.
"All and all, I'm really proud of what this team accomplished this year. And it's so nice to be in that locker room and see so may happy faces. For me, that's as enjoyable as anything as you get older."
League MVP Robbie Keane's winning strike in the 111th minute sent Donovan, arguably the greatest American male soccer player ever, into retirement with his sixth MLS title. He didn’t score but achieved his one final goal before calling time on a career that saw him become the all-time leading scorer in MLS and for the United States men's national team.
The 32-year-old Donovan spent nearly the entire game shackled by the Revolution's physical defense and showed his frustration at the end of a scoreless first half when he slammed into New England's Teal Bunbury while challenging for a ball in the air.
Galaxy teammate Gyasi Zardes made up for his poorly taken chances in the first half with the biggest goal of his young career. Stefan Ishizaki's cross from the right wing plopped down into the 6-yard box right to Zardes, who got enough on his right-footed shot to sneak it past goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth for a 1-0 L.A. lead.
Winger Chris Tierney equalized for the Revolution by completing a brilliant run into the box with a left-footed finish past Galaxy goalkeeper Jamie Penedo and inside the right post for a 1-1 tie. But in the second extra time period, Keane collected a beautiful long ball from Marcelo Sarvas by beating Revs goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth to the ball and burying inside the far post to send the 27,000-sellout crowd into delirium.
Donovan joked afterward in his postgame press conference that he had changed his mind about retirement. But he acknowledged that he can no longer do the things he once did as the young, emerging star of American soccer. For the first time in his life, he can wake up and not worry about training for his next game.
"Could I play [more]? Probably," said Donovan, who is looking forward to playing soccer with his older brother Josh like they did as kids in Redlands, Calif. "But I know it's better to retire than to get cut. … It's been a long road."
"Landon has done the real shift in the game [of soccer]. He's done it all," Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. "He's got very little left to give. I'm so happy that he's made this decision, that he's able to go out as a winner. Don't we all wish we could be able to leave what we do like the way Landon left today."
"He ends his career [as] arguably the greatest player in the history of U.S. Soccer. In the league, he's the all-time leading goal scorer with the assists record and championships ‐ what more can you say? Can you write that any better, that script?"