Even though the United States bowed out of the World Cup in a 2-1 loss to Ghana in the knockout stage of the 2010 World Cup, Landon Donovan’s goal against Algeria will forever be etched in the minds of American soccer fans. The images of people erupting in celebration were touted on social networking sites and video sharing websites everywhere such as Landon Donovan’s Facebook page.
Who is the man behind the teary-eyed interview after the game? Here’s a look into the star and heart of the United States’ men’s soccer team, Landon Donovan.
His high school career included scoring 17 goals in 1997 before transferring to Redlands East Valley High School in 1998 where he scored 16 times. Donovan did not attend college and went straight out of high school and into the limelight.
While playing for the Under 17 team for USA Soccer, Donovan led the team to many stunning victories such as a 4-3 upset over Argentina in 1999 by a count of 4-3 with Donovan scoring twice. He scored 35 total goals for younger national teams before being promoted to the full men’s national team in 2000 at the age of 17.
As InfoPlease says, by the age of 24 Landon Donovan has some impressive soccer accomplishments. He had already played in two World Cups and earned three MLS titles. He started playing in Europe for Bayer Leverkusen in the German Bundesliga becoming the youngest player to ever sign a European contract in 1999. Unfortunately for him but luckily for United States fans, Donovan’s time in Germany was limited and he came back to play for Major League Soccer and his home team San Jose Earthquakes in the state he calls home.
His first season with San Jose was in 2001 where he scored seven goals and had ten assists. He scored in the MLS Cup in a victory of Los Angeles to earn his first MLS title as a player in his first season. From there it was nowhere else but up.
Donovan began playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2005 where he instantly took over the team and led them in two playoff games en route to the MLS Cup, his third in five years. He returned to the finals in 2009 only to uncharacteristically miss a penalty kick that would have helped his team win the title over Real Salt Lake.
His prowess for the United States national team was understood from the moment he helped the Under-17 team in 1998 and scored his first goal in a 2-1 loss against Mexico. He currently holds the record for the most goals of any Team USA member with 45 counting the penalty goal against Ghana in the 2010 World Cup.
In the most recent World Cup Donovan scored three of the United States’ five tallies in South Africa. His stunning goal against Slovenia even made the opposing goalkeeper blink as the shot was completely unexpected and into the top of the net. His next goal would be his most famous and enduring as the Goal Heard ‘Round the World to send the Americans to their first group stage win since 1930.
Landon Donovan is very personable in his interviews and videos. Here he is on the phone talking to Rachel Maddow after his historic goal. Following the World Cup he was on David Letterman. He has also done several commercials including this hilarious one for ESPN. Here is a video profile of Donovan and his mother sponsored by Nike and then answering a question from a fan.
Donovan is also a spokesperson, along with his mother and twin sister, for the Kicks Against Cancer project supporting breast cancer research. Donovan also has an older brother named Justin. His full name is Landon Timothy Donovan and he was born on March 4, 1982 in California.
Searching YouTube will yield manyDonovan highlights including his playing time with English superstar David Beckham. Donovan will 32 when the 2014 World Cup comes around in Brazil and his days may be over as far as playing in World Cup tournaments as no team member was over the age of 31 in South Africa 2010.
As a soccer player myself and a number of years older than Donovan, I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. Your accomplishments make all Americans proud but especially us former players who all enjoy the Beautiful Game.