Landon Donovan returned from United States camp this week, and in his first appearance back with the LA Galaxy broke the MLS all time regular season scoring record and a goal drought that goes back to last October. Scoring goals may be his job, and Donovan will be glad he broke the record in a win, but after the week he's had you can't blame Donovan for taking a moment for himself.
"It's been a long week," said Landon Donovan. "It's hard. I think you guys know me well. It's hard not to make it about me. I don't necessarily want it to be that way, but you know, I've sacrificed a lot to get to the position I'm in. I'm very happy for myself. I've dedicated a lot to this. I think I deserved what happened today."
His mother, father, and sister were all on hand to watch him set the goal scoring record. The fans were behind him from the opening kickoff, with standing ovations every time he touched the ball and a deafening reception as Bruce Arena subbed him out for a curtain call. Still, with all that went on this week Donovan found it hard to stay in the moment.
"All day today my mind was wondering on where else I could be today," said Landon Donovan. "I kept coming back to being present. Staying present, enjoy this game and do your best. I'm glad I was able to do that."
Fans sent Donovan thousands of messages this week, and of course his teammates were behind him. Donovan is so well respected that players from around the league chimed in with their own congratulatory messages. The best was sent by former Galaxy player Mike Magee whose tweet mocked the disrespectful tweet that Jurgen Klinsmann's son had sent the day of the announcement.
HAHAHAHAHAHA DONOVAN HAHAHAHAHA I DIDNT EVEN NOTICE HE BROKE THE MLS GOAL SCORING RECORD UNTIL MY PHONE NOTIFIED ME HAHA #LegenD— Mike Magee (@magee9) May 26, 2014
Breaking the record has been on the table since last October, so it was unsurprising when Donovan told reporters he didn't think about the record until about ten seconds into his celebrating. That image of Donovan yelling into the heavens then dropping to his knees is one of the all-time great soccer images. A man who has dedicated his life to the game just letting everything go.
As a soccer country, this moment feels crucial. Just after days where anyone who has ever watched a soccer match chiming in with how much they wish Donovan was going to the World Cup, he goes and reminds everyone how much he's meant to this sport in this country.
"He could have been in the hotel room," said Robbie Keane, "and he would have scored those two goals...or on Play Station."
This was a day that Donovan needed. It's excusable if he makes it about himself just once.