U.S. Soccer announced on Tuesday that Landon Donovan will make his final appearance for the men’s national team in the upcoming international friendly against Ecuador. The game will be an opportunity for fans to thank him for “all the memories he’s provided over the years,” said U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati.
Donovan, 32, is the most accomplished American currently playing the men’s form of the game. He holds his team’s record for most goals scored (57) and assists (58) and fans overwhelmingly see him as their nation’s greatest player to have graced the beautiful game.
But his valedictory encounter, scheduled for Oct. 10 in East Hartford, Conn., is seen by some as an attempt by coach Jürgen Klinsmann and the country’s soccer governing body to make amends after a public fallout in May.
Just a day before the World Cup tournament kicked off, Donovan was kept off the roster by Klinsmann. The decision was met by fierce criticism from U.S. soccer fans — and particularly Donovan.
“I firmly believe that not only should I be going, but I feel like I really deserved it,” he told reporters at the time. He added that not only should he be in the 23-man squad, but that he should start as well.
Klinsmann, however, held his ground, saying that his former captain was cut because, “I just see some other players slightly ahead of him.”
The Germany legend evidently wasn’t fond of the striker’s showing in the lead up to the tournament. Klinsmann told the New York Times in a June article that he was unimpressed with Donovan’s performance in 2013, when the Los Angeles Galaxy player returned from a controversial four-month sabbatical earlier that year. “I watched the games. What was I supposed to say? That he was good? He was not good. Not then. No way,” said Klinsmann.
Donovan entered the international soccer stage in 2000, and his next and final match for the national team will mark his 157 cap. He’s also set to retire from club soccer at the end of this year’s Major League Soccer season.