Landon Donovan Retires a Champion as MLS Must Begin New Chapter Without Its Face

Landon Donovan is taking his ball, and his trophy, and going home. Forever. In the 111th minute of a sloppy, grind-it-out MLS Cup final, MLS MVP Robbie Keane slotted home the cup-winning goal for the LA Galaxy, who defeated the New England Revolution 2-1 in extra time, earning the Los Angeles franchise its record fifth league title. A jubilant home crowd unfurled its banners and tributes, celebrating another title with the class franchise in MLS, with the class player of a generation. "Party at Donovan's," one banner read. I have a feeling the Galaxy will bring the cups. Keane's extra-time goal did more than just win another cup for the Galaxy and send Donovan off into the sunset a six-time champion. The goal—and the win, the cup and all the celebration that comes with winning another title—signified the end of an MLS era. "This is incredible. When you look around and you see this it's amazing," Donovan told Monica Gonzalez of ESPN. "There is lots of excitement around this league. I'm glad to have been a part of it. This is just the end of the playing part. I'll still be around." The timing seems more than coincidental that MLS will begin its 20th season—the first without ...
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The Face of U.S. Soccer Will Be Decidedly Un-American, If Klinsmann Has His Way

Jurgen Klinsmann is managing U.S. Soccer like a second-term president. Now past one World Cup cycle that saw him receive a contract extension through the 2018 tournament before his team even landed in Brazil this summer, the American soccer governing body handed over as much power as it possibly could to its current head of state. It seems—and frankly, who can blame him—the power has gone to his head. There is no person in international sports with more job security than Klinsmann, and his recent comments illustrate just how much he cares about his legacy in the annals of U.S. Soccer above anything else, including his current constituents. It's not even that Klinsmann is wrong with his recent comments; it's more the sheer audacity of their timing. [Update: Klinsmann's comments about the MLS harming certain U.S. players' progress inspired a heated response from MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who said in a conference call Wednesday, "For him to publicly state issues that he has with Major League Soccer, in my view, is not something that is going to allow him to effectively serve the role of not just coach, but as technical director.") Here is what Klinsmann said about Landon Donovan, which would have made ...
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Landon Donovan’s Impact on American Soccer Transcends Stats, Awards and Trophies

On Wednesday night, in front of a packed house in Portland, Oregon, and a television audience around the globe, Landon Donovan netted the game-winning goal to lead MLS All-Stars over one of his former clubs, Bayern Munich. One day later, Donovan officially announced his retirement from professional soccer, effective at the end of this MLS season. It's a heck of a way to go out. Donovan officially announced his retirement on his Facebook page Thursday afternoon. In part: After careful deliberation and after many conversations with those closest to me, I have decided that this will be my last season as a professional soccer player. I don't write these words lightly and this day carries mixed emotions for me. I am sad to leave a profession that has brought me so much joy. ... ... I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have played a role in the remarkable growth of MLS and US Soccer during my playing career. And while my career as a player will soon be over, rest assured I will stay connected on many levels to the beautiful game. It's hard to put into words exactly what Donovan has meant to soccer in this country. He is without question the best American man ever ...
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MLS All-Star Game vs Bayern Munich Must Be League’s Big Night: What If It’s Not?

As the marquee event for Major League Soccer, the 2014 All-Star Game, finally arrives (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2), everything has lined up perfectly for the American soccer league. A deep roster of U.S. Soccer talent teaming up with notable stars from around the world to play against the best club side on the planet in Bayern Munich, with their own set of world-renowned stars fresh off Germany's victory in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It should be the league's greatest night. And yet the concern has to be: What if it's not? Before we delve into the negative, let's look at all the positives. The MLS roster is stacked with known quantities, and not just MLS standouts who may only be household names to those who habitually watch the American soccer league, but bona fide stars in this country after the performance of the U.S. national team in Brazil this summer. Michael Bradley did not have the best World Cup by any means, but he did solidify himself as a cornerstone of American soccer over the last calendar year. Clint Dempsey—the current iteration of soccer's Captain America—must be considered one of the most recognizable figures in American sports today, in any sport. De'Andre Yedlin ...
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New York City FC Is a Huge Victory for MLS, Defining Moment for Don Garber

It's safe to say that in the soccer world, Don Garber and MLS have won the day.  Garber, the long-tenured commissioner of Major League Soccer, announced the creation of New York City Football Club on Tuesday, a joint venture between Manchester City FC of the English Premier League and the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball, to be the league's 20th official club, starting in 2015. Garber has been working on a deal to bring the 20th team to MLS for nearly three years, essentially demanding the 20th franchise be placed in New York City despite other viable markets being ready to take on a club. And how can one forget those plucky Cosmos—whatever they are—constantly remaining a thorn in the whole NY2 concept since its inception.  Today, the story isn't about the Cosmos. Garber has taken back New York, placed his 20th franchise in the city he always wanted and took care of the coveted franchise fees of $100 million dollars the league certainly needs moving forward.From the press box of Major League Soccer, commissioner Garber is quoted as saying: We proudly welcome two of the most prestigious professional global sports organizations to Major League Soccer. This is a ...
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Colorado Rapids Set to Debut the Most Fan-Friendly Jerseys on the Planet

The 2013 MLS season begins next week and the league has been trying to create a little preseason buzz by unveiling several new team jerseys in the days leading up to kickoff. But before all of the new jerseys have even been released, the Colorado Rapids stole the damn show.What makes the Rapids jerseys different from any other team shirt we've seen? The names of every season ticket holder are printed on the jerseys.This is the coolest thing a team could do for the fans, short of free tickets for everyone. No, it may be even cooler than that. "It's a brilliant idea," Rapids season ticket holder Kevin Pugh told me via email. "It really demonstrates nicely how much the Rapids organization truly values its season-ticket holders, and fans in general. It's an honorable place to have 'The Pugh Family' listed in support (we're on the back, just below the number)."  That's the right word: honorable.While many teams try to sell the notion that being a season ticket holder is an honor in and of itself, this is the perfect way to honor a club's greatest fans.Being a fan of a professional sports team can be rather one-sided. We pay our money to purchase tickets to ...
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Kaka and the 5 Biggest Names Linked with 2013 Moves to MLS

With David Beckham now just a guy who used to play in America, the world football community is left speculating which international superstar will be the next to make the leap to the United States and MLS. Make no mistake, the Beckham experiment was a success for the league, the Los Angeles Galaxy and the player himself. Thierry Henry and a host of other international names would not be in America today if there weren't a viable, healthy league to play in.  Who is the next guy? Is it Kaka? American soccer fans sure hope so.While he has recently affirmed his dedication to stay at Real Madrid, the 30-year-old may not have the choice if he actually wants to get on the field. The best thing for Kaka would be to move to a club where he can get more time. Certainly Los Angeles will be a great fit for him, whenever he decides to come. There are some other names as well, as outlined in this video, with the most obvious being England superstar Frank Lampard, who is out of contract at the end of the year with Chelsea. Could some of his former teammates be making the trip with ...
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MLS Will Be Just Fine After David Beckham Hangs Up His American Soccer Boots

The MLS Cup is on Dec. 1 at 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN for you Americans looking for a footy fix, and the match between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Houston Dynamo has become a secondary storyline to the fact that David Beckham—one of the most famous athletes on the entire planet—is playing his last match in MLS. The script could not be better for MLS.The biggest star to play professional soccer on American soil since Pele is competing in his last match, at home, on national television, with a chance to win back-to-back cups for the league's top international brand.It doesn't hurt, of course, that Beckham isn't alone on the field, most notably lining up alongside American Landon Donovan, widely recognized over his career as the biggest American star in the world.  Notice an important distinction in the paragraph that preceded this: I didn't say Beckham was the best star to play in America since Pele. Heck, I didn't even say Donovan was the best American star in the world (more on that in a minute).Beckham has shown in his time in MLS that he didn't just come to the United States to go on some sort of world ...
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World Football: Erasing the Stigma of Playing (and Living) with Concussions

"They still can't say what's going to happen to me when I'm 50." Can you imagine going through life not knowing what will happen to your brain over the next 15 years? The number of athletes, at all levels, who suffer through post-concussion complications is staggering. Thousands of athletes—many who continue to play without any medical treatment or diagnosis—struggle through simple, everyday activities because their brains have been battered and bruised for far too long.  Thankfully, people are starting to address the rising concern about concussions head on (please pardon the pun). In soccer, the issue is as serious as ever.Former MLS Defender of the Year Jimmy Conrad is one of a growing number of soccer players in the United States—and around the world—who had to end his career prematurely because of concussions. (That's his quote at the start of the article.) Conrad was smart, though. He got out when he could live a pretty normal life, suffering from occasional headaches but still able to work out and play pickup games without any serious day-to-day medical concerns. Other players aren't so lucky. Take Taylor Twellman, for example. The former U.S. International and MLS Most Valuable Player hasn't been able to ...
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David Beckham Showed Why He Is Ageless, Tireless and a Star Among MLS All-Stars

David Beckham was in Philadelphia for just over 12 hours, give or take the amount of time it takes for an airplane to taxi on the runway, as the MLS All-Stars played against Chelsea at PPL Park on Wednesday night. Beckham had hoped to be a part of the Olympic squad for Great Britain at the Summer Olympics in London, but despite not being selected to represent his country on the field, the ageless star is playing the role of international ambassador for England this week.He's doing everything he can possibly do for his home country during the Olympics, while still managing to fulfill his responsibilities with MLS for the All-Star Game. Much to the surprise of nearly everyone at the All-Star game, including other players, the L.A. Galaxy star did more than just fulfill a responsibility on Wednesday night in Chester, Pa., just 10 miles down the road from Philadelphia International Airport. One has to wonder if Beckham stretched on the plane, because when he stepped on the field, he was one of the best players on either side. Beckham landed in Philadelphia, had one light training session during the day with a host of players he had never competed ...
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