Landon Donovan: Revisiting MLS Legend’s Bundesliga Failure

Walking out on the Bundesliga is probably the last thing on Landon Donovan's mind after retiring as a champion following Los Angeles Galaxy's 2-1 win over the New England Revolution in Major League Soccer's cup final. What prompted Donovan winning six MLS Cups and culminating in #ThanksLD, a tribute to a legendary career in the United States?  Unfulfillment in the Bundesliga. Playing as if he was the second coming of Bert Patenaude, Donovan had tangible upside to American superstar basketball player Kobe Bryant, according to then-United States U17 manager John Ellinger. "The level of athleticism is similar," Ellinger said, per Jeff Piasky at Boys' Life. Kobe ambitiously bypassed college to play in the National Basketball Association, drafted in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets and traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Three years later, Donovan's elite speed and elusive dribbling enabled him to generate separation at will from opposing markers, which entranced then-Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Michael Reschke. Leverkusen—the second-best team in the German Bundesliga—prised Donovan away from the United States on a contract valued at around $400,000.  "We seldom offer a young foreign player such a contract [like the one Donovan received]," Reschke said, per Marc Spiegler at Sports Illustrated. "But in 21 years working with young players, I have rarely seen such strong potential." A cogent feeling of vindication must have flowed through Reschke while he watched Donovan run ...
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