Landon Donovan got to go out a champion in his final year playing Major League Soccer, after the LA Galaxy defeated the New England Revolution 2-1 in added extra time. He didn't get that MLS Cup goal like he was able to do in previous Cups, but in his final go he was able to put his teammates in a position to win.
As Donovan said in his press conference after the match, soccer isn't a sport where one player can just take over. He can't have an out of body experience like Michael Jordan in the finals and completely change things on his own, nor can he have a Joe Montana drive where he is guaranteed to be the first person to touch the ball every play. When the game is dictating the flow elsewhere, players have to find other ways to contribute.
In his final MLS match, his lasting image will be as a passer. As he played just about everywhere on the field as LA tried to find goals, he had three key passes along the penalty area and completed passes from just about every point on the field. He had two shots, a flubbed little dribbler that Shuttleworth picked up and the free kick which everyone figured had to go in just for the optics.
Not that Donovan would complain. "There's no experience like what just happened," said Donovan. "I can't imagine anything can replace that in my life going forward."
Playing in his third Cup final in four years, all of which the LA Galaxy won, it's easy to suggest this is old hat for the club. The mantra this week was business as usual, and certainly as LA controlled things in the early going the talking point became they were the team that had been there before. No season, really, is like any other. All the hard work that went into getting to this point wasn't simply going through the motions.
So why not do it again? "Could I play longer physically?" said Landon Donovan. "Yeah probably, this just feels right...it's always better to retire than to get cut"
He set his terms and met his goals. Mission, accomplished.