With Landon Donovan re-signing with the LA Galaxy to a long term contract, the Galaxy have all of their Designated Player spots locked up long term. That's a far cry from years past where there was uncertainty over Juan Pablo Angel, the excitement of bringing in Robbie Keane, and then the uncertainly with David Beckham and Landon Donovan's futures.
This puts LA in a position that few MLS teams ever find themselves in, with a core of internationally recognised players who will continue to put on the Galaxy uniform for years to come. In the many ways in which this contract represents a turning point in MLS, from having Americans as the highest paid players to long term association with one high level player, it's also a turning point in team construction.
In some ways it's not a change for LA, where Beckham, Donovan, and Keane have all signed multi-million-dollar and multi-year extensions. When coupled with bringing Omar Gonzalez up to Designated Player status, the commitment to resisting the typical roster turnover over Major League Soccer is significant.
Donovan gets to continue playing with LA knowing the players around him are there for the long haul, when at the beginning of 2013, most predictions would have seen the back to back MLS Cup winning version of the Galaxy sold off for parts after David Beckham left.
"There had been some uncertainty in regards to Omar [Gonzalez] and myself," said Landon Donovan. "I think earlier in the year we probably would have predicted that neither one of us would be here long term; now we're both going to be here long term."
The party line had been that Donovan and Gonzalez needed to take their careers to Europe in order to properly prepare for the upcoming World Cup. Now Donovan and Dempsey are going on record saying it doesn't matter where you play, as long as you're getting playing time and performing well.
Not only will Donovan get the requisite playing time, which isn't a guarantee transferring to a Manchester United type squad despite Donovan's ability, but he'll get to continue living in his hometown and playing with players he has relationships with. That effect of that level of trust in your teammates, in your manager, can't be understated.
"This club has made commitments to players to make sure they're going to be here, including A.J. [DeLaGarza], Sean Franklin, Juninho. They've made commitments to bring in young players that are going to push us Jose [Villarreal], and Jack [McBean], and Gyasi [Zardes], Oscar Sorto, guys like that. This club's committed to winning."
It's interesting that Donovan pays tribute to the younger players, as one of the side benefits of his sabbatical was players like Villarreal, McBean, and Zardes getting extended playing time and looking good doing it. With young players, the focus is often on how the veterans can be leaders. It's not often you see veterans admit that seeing the young players pushes them to try harder.
Of course, Donovan wasn't going to praise his own front office without taking some jabs at the other clubs out there. Donovan was complimentary of the Galaxy front office at the press conference, with many of them lining the walls of the Champions Club. Was he referring to the club across the hall when he said:
"There are a lot of clubs around the league you look at, and you can tell they do things for other reasons. This club wants to win and they show it."
The other LA club isn't the only one guilty of doing things for other reasons, but Donovan made a point throughout the press conference yesterday of showing the things beyond the dollar amount that make him want to stay with LA. It's his family, and there's something great about that.