The LA Galaxy announced at 2:30PM that Landon Donovan will be returning to the team. In a video posted to their social media accounts, Donovan is shown walking to a locker in the LA Galaxy’s lockerrom and donning a number 26 kit with “Donovan” across the back. So that answers that question.
Minutes later, Landon Donovan, via Facebook and Twitter posted an “Excited to be back” statement along with the following facebook post explaining his reasoning for returning to the field for LA. That post can be read in its original form, here.
Donovan states in his facebook post that, “While this decision may come as a shock to many, I want to explain how and why it was made.”
Landon then goes on to say that the whole situation came about because of a throwaway comment. But that the comment then led him to have a candid conversation with Bruce Arena.
“I am very happy to announce that I have decided to rejoin my hometown team the LA Galaxy for the remainder of the MLS season. While this decision may come as a shock to many, I want to explain how and why it was made.
Two weeks ago, I was working as an analyst on the LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps match and during that game, the Galaxy suffered injuries to three players: Jelle Van Damme, Steven Gerrard and Gyasi Zardes. Over the next few days, Nigel De Jong was transferred to Galatasaray and news broke that Gyasi would be out for the rest of the season. Since my retirement, I have remained in close contact with many of the staff and players on the Galaxy. I spoke with some of them that week and they jokingly asked if I was ready to make a return to the field to help fill some of the void left by the injuries and departures. I reminded them that I haven’t played a meaningful soccer game in almost two years and I certainly couldn’t fill the holes left by those players.
Over the ensuing days, I began to think about their inquiries and it struck me that perhaps this is something I should consider. I care so deeply about the Galaxy organization, and I believe I could help in a small way to aid the team in its quest for a 6th MLS championship. Further, the opportunity to have my son Talon on the field with me after a game was a feeling that I would never be able to replicate.
I then had a candid conversation with Bruce Arena and we began down the path of deciding whether this made sense. We both agreed that if this was going to happen, the expectations would be minimal and he would use me in situations that made sense for the team. I’ve spent a lot of time speaking with my family and close friends over the past several days, and we all agreed that this would be a wonderful opportunity and a win-win situation for everyone.
I know this won’t be received well by everyone. That’s ok. I’ve always made decisions in life based on two guiding principles: my own happiness and the happiness of those I love and care about. Being on the field again, being able to help an organization that has meant so much to me and having my son in my arms after a game will undoubtedly make me and all my loved ones happy. That’s all that matters.
To my fans:
I thank you all for your unwavering support. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate each and every one of you. I’ve been fortunate to lead an incredible life, and I can’t wait to be on the field again and hear your cheers. Also, as all you parents know, having a child is truly a life-changing experience. Nothing would make me happier than standing on the field with Talon and the rest of my family celebrating the Galaxy’s 6th championship on December 10th. I will do everything in my power to make that happen, and I hope we are all there celebrating together!”
“I know this won’t be received well by everyone. That’s ok,” Donovan continued. “I’ve always made decisions in life based on two guiding principles: my own happiness and the happiness of those I love and care about.”
And as far as playing time and expectations, Donovan says he’s already had that conversation with Arena and “expectations would be minimal.” Also that Arena “would use me in situations that made sense for the team.”
In their press release, the LA Galaxy have confirmed that Donovan’s signing will only apply to this season.
“The LA Galaxy announced today that forward Landon Donovan has come out of retirement and signed with the club for the remainder of the 2016 season.” [Emphasis added by me]
It’s an interesting time for the LA Galaxy. And it looks like Donovan fancies himself a hero — and LA may need saving. Seeing the predicament the LA Galaxy are in with injuries and the transfer of Nigel De Jong, he’s come back to help the team in any way possible.
But given the limited amount of time left in the season, and Donovan’s current conditioning, this could also be more of a show than actual substance. He even says so in his statement: expectations are minimal.
So what should we expect? That Landon Donovan will once again be part of this team until the end of the season. During and after that time, everything else is unknown.
Update 9.8.2016 1:45PM
With news continuing to swirl around Landon Donovan and his return to the LA Galaxy we wanted to update you on the most current situation.
Stu Holden, TV Analyst is reporting that the deal with Donovan is a “done deal.” This over course comes as others have been saying that the deal is indeed real, and reporting that it’s going to happen. The timeline is still unknown. But it sounds like it could happen shortly.
Also, I can confirm via multiple sources @landondonovan to the LA Galaxy is a done deal. #MLS
Alexi Lalas also weighed in on the deal trying to figure out the mechanics of how Donovan could end up back at the Galaxy. We originally stated that because he is unattached that he would be free to join LA. However, it’s probably more complicated than that. But, Landon Donovan does qualify as an MLS Free Agent. And in doing so can choose to sign with whichever MLS Team he chooses.
Yes, @landondonovan qualifies under current @MLS CBA as free agent (didn’t at the time he retired.) That’s why he can sign with @LAGalaxy.
I’ll say this — personally, his retirement caught me by surprise. Now it seems that he’s surprised me again. We’ll keep you updated. Follow this space.
Original Story 9.8.2016 – 11:23AM
CoG Studios, CA – If reports are to be believed — and you should believe them — US Men’s National Team and LA Galaxy legend, Landon Donovan is returning to the LA Galaxy to play the rest of the 2016 season.
News broke on twitter this morning from reporter Blake Tomsen that said he was “hearing from multiple sources that Landon Donovan is close to coming out of retirement to rejoin LA Galaxy for remainder of the season.”
Hearing from multiple sources that @landondonovan is close to coming out of retirement to rejoin @lagalaxy for remainder of season
Finally, Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl also confirmed the report. “Have independently confirmed Blake Thomsen’s original report that Landon Donovan is coming out of retirement to play for LA Galaxy. Big.”
Have independently confirmed @blakecthomsen's original report that Landon Donovan is coming out of retirement to play for LA Galaxy. Big.
According to MLS rules, that should c here, any team can sign an unattached player (a player out of contract) outside of the transfer window. They’d just need to complete this deal by September 15, 2016, which is MLS’ roster freeze deadline.
Donovan spent 14 years in the league with ten of those years attached to the LA Galaxy. He amassed a league record, 144 regular season goals during that time and won the MLS Cup five times — four with the Galaxy (2005, 2011, 2012 and 2014). He retired at the end of the 2014 season, at the age of 32, by helping the LA Galaxy to become the first team in MLS history to five MLS Cups.
Any details of this deal are unconfirmed as of right now. But there does seem to be some momentum behind the completion of the deal with Baxter claiming that the deal could get done as soon as today. But MLS paperwork always seems to take longer than everyone expects.
Additionally, it will be interesting to see what kind of shape Donovan returns in. Although he always seems to take care of himself, it’s not a stretch to say he probably isn’t in soccer shape. It would be unlikely that he would be in a position to play for quite some time. And with the LA Galaxy having just six games remaining on their season, how many could he realistically expect to be ready for?
However, even if he is to miss the majority of the rest of the season, he would theoretically be in a good position to make himself useful in the playoffs.
After losing Nigel De Jong to a free transfer to Galatasaray, this might just be the mental boost the LA Galaxy were looking for. In addition, Donovan has proven himself to be a goal scorer. And what team couldn’t use his finishing ability?
Still, for a team that had seemingly moved on from his ever-present influence, it remains to be seen how this shapes the future of the club. Will Giovani dos Santos remain as the “future” fo the Galaxy? How long will Landon Donovan return for? Is he done at the end of the season, again?
These are all questions that will get answered in time. But for now, it’s probably appropriate to welcome back a guy who defined the LA Galaxy during his ten years with the club. It’s certainly going to make for an interesting finish to 2016.