Landon Donovan’s Career Runs Parallel with Increasing Success of MLS

It was 2005, and just seven games into his second stint of European football, Landon Donovan wanted to come back home. Naturally, Major League Soccer clubs tripped over themselves jockeying for position to land the prized U.S. star—ultimately with the Los Angeles Galaxy obtaining his rights. 

Few could have fathomed back then what impact Donovan's return to the MLS has had nearly a decade later. 

Donovan announced his retirement at the end of the 2014 season on his Facebook page Thursday. The MLS has turned from a struggling project to a must-watch product for any American soccer fan in his time playing, and that's no coincidence.

When the greatest American player to step on a pitch made his MLS debut, it was a high-flying three-year loan spell with the San Jose Earthquakes. Donovan racked up domestic player of the year awards each season. As he returned from his loan back to Bayer Leverkusen, he figured to be an impact player as...

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