Will Landon Donovan be able to capture moments like the one pictured above? (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
By Michael Lewis
So, Landon Donovan is coming out of retirement — again.
Well, he wasn’t the first soccer player to do so and he certainly won’t be the last to try to revive a career.
Perhaps the most famous “unretirement” was accomplished by the one and only Pele, who was coaxed by Cosmos president Clive Toye to put on the jersey for the North American Soccer League club in 1975. Pele helped start a soccer boom that transformed the sport in this country.
Whether Donovan will go boom or bust in Mexico is another matter.
The biggest fear of any player coming out of retirement is whether he will embarrass himself or not play up to expectations. For Donovan, the stakes are high. He is, after all, a U.S. Soccer legend, setting standards for club and country as the man regarded as the best American men’s player.
Heck, even the Major League Soccer MVP award is named after him.
So, the last thing you would want is him tarnishing his reputation.
Remember, this is the second time Donovan has decided to stage a comeback. In 2016, two years after hanging up his boots for good, he rejoined his teammates on the LA Galaxy for the latter part of the Major League Soccer season.
There were concerns that Donovan, then 33, would embarrass himself. He didn’t as then Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena used him wisely as a late-match substitute.
With Club Leon in Liga MX, it could be a different scenario.
It will be head coach Gustavo Diaz’s charge to use Donovan wisely as well. Donovan, who turns 36 March 4, certainly is no spring chicken and being away from the game for more than a year makes his latest comeback that much more challenging and difficult.
Donovan obviously knows his body better than anyone else, how much he has trained in the last year and how much his limits are.
At the moment, we don’t know the reason why Donovan decided to return to the field. Was it money? Did he feel he left the Galaxy too soon and there still was a desire to play at a high level? Or was there another reason?
Donovan is putting his reputation on line, regardless what his role will be.
Will he an impact player even on a part-time basis, an ordinary perform or someone who fails to live up to his past accomplishments?
Only time will tell.
Here’s hoping that Donovan doesn’t damage his reputation. If he does, this shouldn’t be the last thing we remember about him as a player.