On a cool evening Monday night in Guanajuato, what was first billed as a joke became a reality, albeit one that still feels like a dream: Landon Donovan was introduced at Estadio León in front of thousands of raucous fans waving American and Mexican flags. The LA Galaxy legend and U.S. Soccer all-time leading goalscorer has come out of retirement once again, signing a one-year deal with the Liga MX club.
After emerging from the tunnel, an infectious Donovan performed the customary duties, signing a few autographs and launching a pelota or two into the stands before soaking in the atmosphere. Fans held up large L and D letters in white and green, chanting and making their voices heard. Behind Landon were giant banners and a massive billboard plastered with Donovan’s new mantra “No creo en los muros”, or “I don’t believe in walls”.
It was a splendid sight to behold. In light of the political differences the United States have shared with our southern neighbors in recent times, it was heartwarming to witness Mexican soccer fans waving American flags in a sincere gesture of tolerance.
Perhaps then, it was fitting Landon Donovan would later deliver a powerful statement worthy of the gesture. ESPN Mexico reporter Tom Marshall was on hand at Estadio León when Donovan made his feelings clear about the current administration.
“I don’t like what our president has done for relations between Mexico and the United States. I don’t like it at all. I was born in Southern California, I grew up talking and playing with Mexicans and it’s part of my soul. And that’s why I don’t like what he says about Mexico. I know Mexican people are very kind people … Like I said on Twitter, I don’t believe in walls and it’s important that our countries are together. We should be friends and companions.”
There will be legitimate questions about the 35-year-old’s ability to contribute, but as an unofficial ambassador to the United States, Landon’s adventure is off to a great start.