Three for Thursday: Why Landon Donovan and the LA Galaxy need to get a new deal done
With Omar Gonzalez's Designated Player deal done and dusted, the focus in Galaxy-land has turned to the future of a club and US national team legend: Landon Donovan.
The star man's DP contract expires at the end of the 2013 season, and he's gone back and forth on his future, first revealing interest from European clubs for his services, then saying Wednesday night that he wants to finish his career with the Galaxy.
Here are three reasons why it's the best scenario:
1. It's good for the Galaxy
Yes, the likes of Kaká and Frank Lampard may become available, but why go for the untested-in-MLS (albeit immensely talented) DP option when you're getting one of the all-time greats back in Donovan? Not only could Donovan match the production of most realistic DP possibilities, there'd be no getting-to-know-you period.
Furthermore, there's no better poster boy for the Galaxy and MLS when it comes to retaining the top American stars, as the league has made clear it wants to do. He is one of the best, if not the best, players the country has every produced and one of the few American players that commands national, and even international attention.
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Though the Galaxy might make more international ripples with a Kaká-type signing, they will find few better ways continue to grow their American fan base than by keeping one of the most entertaining players in the league. There's a better way to convert the "Eurosnob" population than signing a foreign star on the tail end of his career – it's demonstrating that the league can produce and keep high-quality players, and there's no doubt Donovan is one of them.
2. It's also good for Landon
It should be apparent by now that Donovan is most comfortable around his friends and family in Southern California, and there's nothing wrong with that. Why not stay near home if that's what enables you to play your best soccer and properly prepare for one of the biggest tournaments of your career?
When he's healthy and fit, Donovan is about as much of lock as there is on the Galaxy roster. Where can you say that for any team outside of MLS? Certainly not at AC Milan, with the likes of Mario Balotelli, Stephen El-Sharwaary and a host of other attacking talent waiting in the wings, or even at one of the smaller Serie A clubs that are rumored to be intersted in bringing in the all-time USMNT goals and assists leader.
Going into a World Cup year, the most certain way for Donovan to be fit and locked-in ahead of the trip to Brazil (and trust me, he's going), is to stay with the Galaxy, where he will likely get 10-15 competitive games under his belt (including the CONCACAF Champions League) before the World Cup.
3. To cement the legend
It's generally accepted that Donovan is already established among the all-time greats in the league. He recently joined the elite five-MLS Cup club, is all but certain to break the all-time MLS goals record this year or next, and should have a realistic shot of breaking Steve Ralston's all-time assist mark (135, Donovan has 115) should he stay with the Galaxy.
If Donovan can cement himself as the leader in both those major statiscal categories, and perhaps more importantly win an unprecedented sixth MLS Cup title, there will be no doubt left as to just who the greatest MLS player of all-time is (sorry, Jaime Moreno and DeRo).
He may not be world soccer's Michael Jordan, but with six rings and the levels of consistency and dominance he has shown in his career, he could certainly play the role in MLS, and it would help cement this Galaxy team as one the greatest MLS of all-time.