The greatest American soccer player ever is stepping away from the game.
Landon Donovan, who played in three World Cups for the United States and was a six-time member of MLS' Best XI squad, will retire at the end of the 2014 MLS season at the age of 32. ESPN's Doug McIntyre broke the story.
In a message posted to his Facebook, Donovan reflected on the end of his career:
After careful deliberation and after many conversations with those closest to me, I have decided that this will be my last season as a professional soccer player…
I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have played a role in the remarkable growth of MLS and US Soccer during my playing career. And while my career as a player will soon be over, rest assured I will stay connected on many levels to the beautiful game.
It is a bittersweet end for Donovan, who was left off the 2014 World Cup roster by Jurgen Klinsmann, but his failure to make that team should not diminish his incredible international and club career.
Donovan is America's all-time leading goalscorer in World Cups and MLS' all-time leading goalscorer, a feat he accomplished despite playing much of his career as a wide player and not a pure striker. He won the MLS Cup five times with two different teams, won the Supporters' Shield (best regular season record) twice, and was twice named MLS All-Star Game MVP, including winning the award after scoring the game-winning goal against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
He was the face of MLS for his entire career in the league, and worked tirelessly to promote the league and the sport in America.
On top of that, he scored the most famous American soccer goal in history:
He was also a thoughtful and often outspoken player off the field, most notably when he took a self-enforced sabbatical from the game in 2012, citing burnout and concerns about his mental health. Donovan challenged the machismo, warrior ideal so often expected of athletes. He was criticized by some for it, but he did a lot to change ideas about what makes an elite athlete.
In an interview with For the Win earlier this year, Donovan spoke about his life after soccer, and while he lacked focus on the next step of his career, it was clear he was excited about his life post-soccer.
"I think in some capacity I want to coach. I'll certainly want to take some time to relax and get away from this world a little bit. Broadcasting has always seemed interesting to me, and enjoyable. I'm not exactly sure," he said. "But I'll try a lot of things."