As close to a real football player as the US has ever produced. Good enough to captain the Los Angeles Galaxy, to be the US national team's all-time leading scorer, and even worthy of being an occasional mode of transportation for David Beckham.
Hailing from Redlands, California originally, Donovan's career has brought him literally dozens of miles from home.
In an attempt to end decades of futility, US Soccer formed a youth soccer residency school/program in Bradenton Florida as part of the 2010 Campaign. That Campaign promised to win the World Cup in 2010, a promise that hasn't been repeated since about 2006 when it was obvious it would never happen. Landy joined a group of his contemporaries for a youth soccer residency program to manufacture the stars of the future.
Residency. Featuring DeMarcus Beasley, Donovan, Mia Hamm, and Hope Solo.
In true typical US Soccer fassion, the US lost the tourney but played well enough to suprise the hell out of everyone, finishing fourth. Donovan, however, was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player. Expectations was raised prematurely for his future.
Landy was a hot prospect following his performance at the Loli World Cup and he was promptly picked up by Bayer Leverkusen, one of Germany's biggest clubs. While literally anyone else would have grasped the opportunity to make a splash in one of the world's biggest leagues, Primadonovan evidently used his two years in the Leverkusen academy system to eat fucking schnitzel. This is the only logical conclusion, as he shunned the potential experience of playing in the Bundesliga to return stateside to play on a four-year loan for the extremely tastelessly--named San Jose Earthquakes of MLS.
The jubilant mascot of the also poorly-named Colombo Tsunami.
Donovan was a Sunshine Superman for the struggling Earthquakes, leading them to two MLS Cups, winning U.S. Soccer Athlete of the year in 2003, and earning Honda Player of the Year honors three years in a row (2002-04). "How quaint," sneered the Germanic owners of Bayer Leverkusen, probably. Regardless of how cute the Germans must have felt the MLS to be, they were probably swayed by the fact that "Donovan" is German for "forcefull sex." The transition to German football (and food) was incredibly difficulted. But displaying that young American bravado we're quite used to, he stayed for all of seven unsuccessful appearances. Tail between his legs and all, Donovan came back home to his big paycheck, superhot wife-to-be, awesome pet dogs and sunny weather of Southern California... loser! Who would look forward to all that?
Two EXCELLENT Reasons for Landy to Stay In America.
So now Landy Cakes had pulled a McQueen for a second time and had gotten out of Germany, this time on a transfer to the Los Angeles Galaxy. See, in his absense the Earthquakes had fallen so low that the whole damn team was going to be moved to Houstan, then restarted kind of like what Microsoft does with Windows every couple of years... fail hard. Joining the already stacked Galaxy, Donovan was easily able to claim another MLS Cup victory and bolster his domestic reputation still further. Donovan's success at home and failure at higher levels in Europe had made him into the professional sporting equivalent of the video store employee who's the hot shot of his D&D group yet can't socialize with normal people without failing and probably ejecting one or more bodily fluids.
Donovan's aging father takes questions from the press.
The funny thing is, even though Landy was playing just as Dandy as ever in 2006, the Galaxy started to go downhill. For the first time in the 10 sensational years of Galaxy soccer, the few white soccer fans in LA were disappointed with a 5th-place finish in the Conference and no hot playoff action. It took most of the season for the fans in the crowd to put down their Blackberry and notice that their beloved team was losing. Several were even shocked to discover they had inadvertingly went to a Chivas USA game instead of a Galaxy Game. This could not stand. Only one
man divine metrosexual could help them now...
One season and a quarter of a billion dollars later, everything was different. Once the MLS were able to finalize a mortgage on themselves to fund the transfer, David Beckham left Spanish juggernauts Real Madrid and decided to join the Los Angeles Galaxy so he could a) rake in the buku bucks and b) allow his wife to pursue a career in being a skinny bitch. This was quite a departure from the couple doing exactly this in Europe because, you know, they're doing it in America.
Now that's some pretty hair.
And how! Just look at that face. Really, just look at anything but his knee. The hype surrounding the arrival of Beckham and the revival of the Galaxy was made of fail and SARS (big in '07?) due to injury and still more pressure was put on our man Landon Donovan to pick up the pieces. Given that the Beckham thing was a bust and everyone now knew it, Donovan was among the MLS players attempting to restore the little credibility soccer had in the US before. That credibility took an even bigger hit when David Beckham brought Kobe Bryant to watch a game and the T.V. cameras constantly showed Kobe instead of the game. The only upside is that we did get lots of closeups of that huge fuckin' ring Mrs. Byrant was wearing. Wonder what had to happen for Kobe to spill out for that thing?
We wish we could say this was for a magazine. It wasn't.
Thus, 2007 continued sans the savior of soccer. But for Donovan, it was another year, another Player of the Year win. Now Captain of the Galaxy--that's right, Captain of the Galaxy--Donovan was once again among the best in the MLS, but his team failed to make the playoffs for a second year in a row. It really, really seemed the team needed a coach who wasn't just a European playboy so Head Coach Ruud Gullit was fired and hardass American Bruce Arena was brought in to whip the team into shape.
2008 was truly Landon Donovan's year. Twenty goals in 25 games? Easy. Dandy Landy had officially entered his prime. 2009 looked primed to be a great year for the Galaxy, especially when news broke that David Beckham was going to sell out his soul and play for AC MIlan for half of the season as part of a foreign exchange program to pay back Europe for all those times a European high schooler came to American and instantly became the best player on our high school teams. Not to be outdone, Donovan decided to make to a loan move to Germany's best team, Bayern Munich. There he set on the bench for nearly a dozen games before moving back home again.
In yet another example of how MLS favors Donovan, he's the only player allowed to play in color, all others must play in Black and White.
But 2009 was a good year for Donovan. It seems this time some of that German drive rubbed off on Landy as he blitzkrieged his way across the MLS. The key to his success was a symbiotic offfensive relationship with the then-healthy David Beckham. But Donovan succeeded beyond the small pond of the MLS, in 2009 Donovan carried the National team to the finals of the Confederation Cup while David Beckham's England sit at home and watched the game on T.V. as they hadn't even qualified for the tournament that decided who qualified for the Confed tournament. The Galaxy made the playoffs and everything was happy LA LA land as they beat their across-stadium rivals Chivas USA in the first round despite David Beckham doing nothing of value and Landon Donovan only hitting one stinking penalty kick. A win in the second round led the Galaxy back to the Championship game.
Where Landon missed his Penatly Kick that would have won the Galaxy the Championship, instead Real Salt Lake won the title. David Beckham was heard to mumble "fucking wanker."
Landon Donovan is virtually unknown in America to the non-soccer crowd. However, he is a household name in Mexico because he once pissed on the hollowed ground of one of their oldest soccer fields (to be fair, he claims the bathrooms were either really far away or blocked or full of gloryholes or something). This incident led to him being one of the most hated sports figures in Mexico.
In 2010 Donovan adorned a pancho, a sumbrero and a big fake Mexican looking mustache to mock Mexico anew. However, this time it was in a commercial for the Mexican lottery, It featured the disguised Donovan sneaking across the border into Mexico to play the lottery because (as the commercial says in Spanish) "Winning is Easier" there.