A few months after being cut from the U.S. Men’s National Team for the World Cup, Landon Donovan announced that this season would be his final season with Major League Soccer. His statement on the matter came one day after playing in his last MLS All-Star Game, a zero stakes match in which he claimed yet another U.S. soccer record — notching his fourteenth All Star appearance — and scored the deciding goal over Bayern Munich, natch.
As the best soccer play to come out of the U.S. so far, Donovan has unwillingly served as a solid encapsulation of the country’s relationship to the sport over the last decade and change: definitely good, but not beyond reproach and not always looking like there was nothing else he’d rather be doing. There has been some discussion about whether or not USA soccer was mediocre in spite of Donovan, or if Landon’s globally comparative mediocrity was the ultimate signifier of the USA’s limited ceiling. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Either way, he retires with the most goals (57) and assists (58) in U.S. World Cup history, as well as the second most caps, sitting behind Cobi Jones.
“I don’t write these words lightly and this day carries mixed emotions for me. I am sad to leave a profession that has brought me so much joy,” Donovan posted on Facebook. “However, after spending half my life as a professional soccer player, I also am excited to begin a new chapter.” Also of note: You can watch gifs of his first 135 MLS goals here. They’re pretty fantastic.