Landon Donovan
Landon Donovan #10 of the United States reacts as he leaves the field after playing in the first half during an international friendly with Ecuador at Rentschler Field on October 10, 2014 in East Hartford, Connecticut. Jim Rogash/Getty Images

HARTFORD – Over 35,000 people came out to Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut on Friday to say goodbye to the United States greatest soccer player, Landon Donovan. The night was definitely historical for #10 as the grand farewell was complete with banners, video tributes, speeches, and of course tears from fans that have spent the last 18 years watching Donovan grow into one of the world’s greatest players in front of their eyes.

“I have thought about this moment for a long time. There are obviously a lot of stories of guys who struggle heavily, mentally and physically, after they play. I have tried to prepare myself in that way,” said Donovan before the match.

USMNT coach, Jurgen Klinsmann gave Donovan the captain’s armband for his final game wearing the red, white and blue jersey. He was expected to be on the pitch for around 30 minutes, but Klinsmann kept Donovan out there for 41 minutes, allowing the fans to give him a grand sendoff right before the end of the first half.

The United States got off to an early lead against their opponent Ecuador, thanks to team USA’s young players with whom Donovan is passing on the torch. Mix Diskerud, a young midfielder who plays in the Norwegian soccer league, Tippeligaen, received a great pass into the right center of the box by Seattle Sounders Midfielder, DeAndre Yedlin, and buried it into the bottom right corner of the net. Yedlin, was one of the surprising young stars for the United States in the 2014 World Cup, and was transferred to the Tottenham Hotspurs earlier this year.

After the U.S. jumped out to the early lead, they dug in their heels and parked the bus on defense, but they allowed too much time of possession for Ecuador and their star Enner Valencia. Valencia scored in the 88th minute from deep outside the box on a shot that took an awkward curve to the right after looking like it would head straight at the goalkeeper.

Led by World Cup stars, Omar Gonzalez, John Brooks and Timothy Chandler, the United States played stellar defense on Ecuador’s formidable front of Valencia and Segundo Castillo for 95 percent of the match, but it was not enough to get the win thanks to Valencia’s rather magical goal.

Aston Villa, goalkeeper, Brad Guzan, started in goal for the United States in place of Tim Howard who is taking a sabbatical from the U.S. national team. Guzan was stellar in goal, blocking three shots and sending away over 12 attempts.

But the night was all about Landon Donovan who initiated the Stars and Stripes only goal of the night with a charge down the left hand side of the pitch. His cross to Gregory Garza to the right of the net, led to the goal that was eventually scored by Diskerud just seconds later. Donovan had a chance to score himself in the 25th minute, when a great heel flick by Jozy Altidore careened off the far post.

Donovan tribute
Landon Donovan #10 of the United States reacts with Sunil Gulati, president of the United States Soccer Federation as he receives a gift during a ceremony in his honor before an international friendly with Ecuador at Rentschler Field on October 10, 2014 in East Hartford, Connecticut Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Donovan has cemented his legacy for the USMNT as he leaves as the all-time leader in goals scored, and assists, and will fall six games short of his old Los Angeles Galaxy teammate, Cobi Jones, record of 164 caps. In what will certainly become a trivia question for years to come, in Donovan’s final game for the United States, he was replaced on the pitch by Joe Corona Crespin. When asked at halftime what his greatest legacy in the game will be, Donovan said the growth of American Soccer is his lasting impact on the game.

© 2023 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.