The 2010 World Cup was the first World Cup that I can remember taking an active role in learning about the game and viewing intently. Definitely one of the best, if not the most prolific scorers and American soccer players to play, Landon Donovan dominated the TV and the media. I took notice.
Born on March 4, 1982 in Ontario California, the 5’8 forward and attacking midfielder, he was seemingly born to play. Named the Player of the Tournament for his role in United States under-17 squad that finished fourth in the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship, Donovan was soon sought after by the German Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen. Dealing with growing pains, and discomforts being across seas, Donovan never really settled into the club. This lead to him being loaned to the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer (MLS) for the 2001 season. Leading the Earthquakes to MLS Cup championships in 2001 and 2003, Donovan found his stride. With this success, he became the most recognizable face for American Soccer. This culminated with a successful career for the LA Galaxy, where he joined forces with a dominant European player by the name of David Beckham. Following multiple MLS Championship appearances and championship trophies, to me his truly defining moment was in the 2010 World Cup.
It was the U.S. versus Algeria with the game tied at 0-0 in the 90th minute of play. The U.S. had several opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net, once Clint Dempsey had a goal disallowed for a controversial offside call, and later hitting the crossbar and missing an empty net off a rebound, it seemed like the United States’ luck may be running out. Algeria also had its opportunities, as a minute into stoppage time, Algeria had a chance on goal, but headed the ball to Tim Howard for an easy save. This is when the momentum of the game swung back to the U.S. as Howard threw the ball to hit Donovan on the run who then moved the ball onto Jozy Altidore. In one touch Altidore played the ball to Clint Dempsey in the middle of the box. Short on time and space as the Algerian goalkeeper began his approach, Dempsey’s shot was blocked.
Landon Donovan trailing the play and following the shot took advantage of an easy opportunity and put the rebound into the net. With this moment, Landon Donovan etched his name in American Soccer history by not only saving the United States team from elimination but allowing them to win their group for the first time since 1930.
A whirlwind of emotion evoking from fear and horror as the Algerian team gets a great look on goal, to hope as Dempsey advances the ball out of the box to Donovan up the pitch, and finally pure elation and happiness as Donovan puts the rebound in.
Landon Donovan was not only a proficient scorer and playmaker, but a terrific leader and teammate. His success is not measured by the championships and trophies accumulated over his career, but by his presence on the field and the competitive tenacity he played with.
Augustyn, Adam. “Landon Donovan.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 17 Jan. 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/Landon-Donovan.
FIFA.com. “2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.” FIFA.com, www.fifa.com/worldcup/archive/southafrica2010/index.html.
“Landon Donovan.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 6 Mar. 2016, www.biography.com/people/landon-donovan-573440.
Sohn, Michael. “10 Most Significant Goals In U.S. Soccer History.” Sports Illustrated, www.si.com/longform/soccer-goals/goal2.html.