Donovan focused on Galaxy win, not his home finale
Oct. 18, 2014
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Landon Donovan is trying to save his nostalgia for November — and hopefully December, too.
The most accomplished player in MLS history figures he would be more reflective about his final regular-season home match with the LA Galaxy on Sunday if he wasn't returning to the field in a few weeks for the playoffs.
Donovan also knows the Galaxy can't afford to turn this visit from the Seattle Sounders into a testimonial. A win is the best way to put the Galaxy on a path ending with his actual StubHub Center farewell in the MLS Cup in two months.
"This isn't necessarily the end, but I'll hopefully get a little bit of time after the game to appreciate it all," Donovan said this week after training on the fields just outside the Galaxy's stadium.
"It's going to be hard for me to do that before the game because we're pretty excited about a big opportunity on Sunday. After the game, I'll hopefully take it all in, but up until then, it's business."
Thanks to a schedule quirk, the Supporters' Shield will be decided when the Galaxy (17-6-9) and the Seattle Sounders (19-10-3) play a home-and-home series to close the regular season. LA needs four points from the two games to claim the league's best record and the best chance to host the championship game, while the Sounders need only one victory because of their tiebreaker edge.
Donovan will be looking to find ways to exploit the Sounders' sometimes-shaky back end. Donovan, Robbie Keane and the Galaxy have been chasing Clint Dempsey and Seattle for most of the season, closing the gap in the final weeks.
"It's going to be a great series," Donovan said. "There's not many people that would doubt these are the best two teams in the league. We've both proven it over the year. There's going to be a lot that goes into these games."
Although the Sounders could wrap up the title with a win in Carson, Seattle hasn't beaten the Galaxy on the road since 2009. LA hasn't lost at home in 15 matches since its season opener way back on March 8.
The 32-year-old Donovan has just two games left to add to his MLS regular-season records of 144 goals, 136 assists and 41 game-winning goals. He has six goals and 12 assists in his 12 Galaxy games since announcing his surprising retirement decision two months ago.
The Galaxy are filling the regular-season home finale with celebrations of Donovan. There will be a pregame ceremony, numerous visual tributes and No. 10 cards for every fan. The club is even trying to organize a stadium-wide chant of Donovan's name at the 10-minute mark.
"The game is a vitally important game," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. "So obviously it's a big occasion for Landon as well, but I don't think we need anything more to help us understand what a big game it is. We're respectful and appreciative of Landon and all he did, but the game is of the utmost importance."
Donovan will have friends and family at the stadium that has been the Galaxy's home for Donovan's entire career with the club. Although he is determined to walk away from soccer this winter, he has expressed interest in a youth coaching role with the Galaxy.
But first, he's keeping his eye on a sixth MLS championship — which would be another league record.
"It certainly won't be the last times I'm ever here," Donovan said. "I'll be here a lot in the future. But as a player, training or playing, I'm going to miss it, for sure."