I still remember staying up to an ungodly hour with my brother to watch the U.S. play Germany in the 2002 World Cup, amazed by a 20 year old—from Redlands, California, no less—who had skills and the fearlessness to keep the great Oliver Kahn on his toes.
As a kid growing up playing soccer in the US, there could be no greater idol.
For as long as I have followed professional soccer, Landon Donovan has been there. In 2003, I was in ecstasy as he led my hometown Earthquakes to the greatest comeback in sports history over our rival LA Galaxy. I cheered with equal vigor two years later as fans burned his piñata effigy after he requested a trade to LA. Nothing hurts more than being spurned by your hero.
From then on I measured my life in increments of four. Landon Donovan was a traitor, a hack – except for those glorious summer months when he put on the US jersey and reverted to what he truly is: the best player this country has ever produced. 2006, 2010, what might have been in 2014. So much joy and so much heartbreak – it’s been one hell of a ride. Thanks for the journey LD.