USMNT Report: Donovan Has One Last Lesson to Learn

Latest call-ups put Landon Donovan next to some untested youngsters in his farewell USMNT match
by Herb Scribner   |   Tuesday, October 07, 2014

USMNT Report - coverage of the United States Men's National Team

The United States Men’s National Team will say goodbye to Landon Donovan on October 10.

Donovan, who just broke the all-time assists record in MLS, making him the king of goals and assists in the American domestic league, is retiring at the end of the MLS season, and this friendly against Ecuador will be his final chance to show his skill when in a red, white and blue jersey.

It’ll also be his last chance to give back to the country that has followed him since he was a young boy.

Take a look at the roster for the upcoming game:

GK: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEF: John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Michael Orozco (Puebla), Tim Ream (Bolton Wanderers), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

MID: Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Joe Corona (Tijuana), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Julian Green (Hamburg), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt)

FWD: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Joe Gyau (Borussia Dortmund), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich)

One thing you’ll immediately notice about this team is that it’s lacking some of the players who have surrounded Donovan during his run of success. There is no Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, nor is there Oguchi Onyewu, DaMarcus Beasley or Kyle Beckerman, who all rose with Donovan since the early days in the USA U17s.

In fact, this roster is made of some incoming youngsters. Greg Garza is a newer addition to the USA side, as is Alfredo Morales, Joe Gyau and Miguel Ibarra. These are players who may have played for the USMNT before, but are still getting used to the system and trying to solidify themselves in the roster going forward.

They’re also players that Donovan can help in his last go around with the United States.

One of the things that makes a great player better than the others is his wisdom, gained from years of experience on the pitch. Donovan does not lack in that in the slightest. Even after a cold spell, Donovan turned his 2014 season around and fought his way to being the all-time assist and goal scorer in MLS. When people question his age, he strikes back with a pair of goals. Donovan’s retiring years too young. But in his last game with the USA, there’s much he can teach players like Ibarra, Gyau and Morales. He can teach them how to be in the right positions for scoring a goal, or how to find a teammate when you can’t do something yourself. He can explain to them what it takes to be a USA player, and how no roster is spot is guaranteed — even if you’re the best American that ever played the game.

Donovan’s departure for soccer will leave a gaping vacuum of talent in the United States. There is no next Donovan yet to fill his shoes and surpass his records and achievements. But in the mean time, especially with this friendly against a highly-capable Ecuador side, Donovan can offer his last words of wisdom to the youngsters, and show them what it truly means to be dependable, skilled and a step above the rest.

And in doing so, Donovan himself will learn more about who he was as a player. Sure, he didn’t have the heart of a captain or the willingness to compete until his last breath. But he was reliable, a player that would bring talent to the pitch on nearly every occasion and someone who helped lift the United States soccer to new heights.

Donovan’s been a recognizable face for the masses and an irreplaceable player for the United States. And now he has a chance to learn that with time, being a legend calls for you to pass the tourch onto the youngsters who are rising. The top won’t be his forever.

By helping these green United States players grow in his final call-up and game, Donovan can give the USA and its fans something it’s still looking for: a step in the right direction for the future.

NEXT UP: October 10 — Friendly: United States vs. Ecuador, Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Connecticut. 7 p.m. EST, ESPN, WatchESPN.


UMass Amherst
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FC Barcelona
SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.