Landon Timothy Donovan (born March 4, 1982 in Ontario, California) is
an American soccer player, who currently plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy of
Major League Soccer as well as starting for the United States national soccer
Landon is the son of Canadian Tim Donovan and Donna Kenney Cash. Donovan grew
up in Redlands, California, and attended Redlands High School before
transferring to Redlands East Valley. Landon signed a professional contract with
Bayer Leverkusen in February 1999 at the age of 17, shortly before playing in
the U-17 World Championship, where he won the Golden Ball as the tournament's
Donovan could not break into the first team with Leverkusen due to age
restrictions and, unhappy with his situation in Germany, was loaned to the San
Jose Earthquakes, playing in Major League Soccer, for the 2001 season. In MLS,
Donovan had immediate success, leading the Earthquakes to MLS Cup championships
in 2001 and 2003 and becoming one of the most recognizable faces of soccer in
America. In four years in the league, he scored 32 goals and 29 assists in
league play, and 10 goals and six assists in the playoffs. Donovan was named
U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year in 2003.
After starring in the 2000 Summer Olympics, he earned his first cap for the
U.S. National Team on October 25, 2000 against Mexico, scoring on his debut. He
was integral to the United States' run to the quarterfinals of the 2002 FIFA
World Cup in Korea/Japan, scoring two goals. Through the 2006 FIFA World Cup, he
has amassed 84 caps for the US, scoring 25 goals, including a rare four-goal
game against Cuba in 2003. On April 11, 2006, Donovan became the United States'
all-time assist leader with 23 when he set up Ben Olsen. The previous all-time
assist leader was Cobi Jones.
On June 3, 2004, Bayer Leverkusen announced that Donovan would return to the
club in 2005, and Landon followed suit, announcing his return to Germany on
November 23, 2004. He then became the first man to be named U.S. Soccer Athlete
of the Year two years in a row, taking the award for that year.
In early 2005, Donovan put in decent performances, but ultimately failed to
impress. Most notable was a performance in the away fixture of UEFA Champions
League against eventual champion Liverpool, where a Donovan turnover allowed a
Liverpool forward to score one of three in a 3-1 loss. Despite a poor
performance, Donovan still received higher marks than all but one other
Leverkusen starter. Donovan stated his intentions to come back to MLS, and club
officials respected his wishes. However, because San Jose had traded away part
of Donovan's allocation, a return to San Jose was not possible. One week before
the start of the season, Los Angeles traded leading scorer Carlos Ruiz, a
striker, to FC Dallas to get on top of the allocation pecking order and signed
Donovan, a midfielder, on March 31, 2005.
In his first season with the Galaxy, Donovan scored 12 league goals and 10
assists and added four goals and an assist in the playoffs as the Galaxy won the
MLS Cup (his third MLS championship to date). Ironically, the winning goal was
scored by a Guatemalan, Pando Ramirez, brought in to partner with Carlos Ruiz
but relegated to the bench by Donovan. Donovan's playoff goals made him MLS'
all-time leading scorer in the playoffs with 14. He was named to the MLS
All-Time Best XI after the season.
Many soccer critics have criticized Donovan for returning to MLS, as he is
perceived to be not up to the rigors of European soccer , although he has
expressed interest in playing in England someday. He has also been criticized
for his poor performance on the US national team at the 2006 World Cup Finals in
Nevertheless, Donovan is expected to be the front-runner for replacing
Claudio Reyna as U.S. captain.
Donovan currently resides in Manhattan Beach, California with his fiancée,
actress Bianca Kajlich.