CARSON, Calif. -- Landon Donovan says “many factors” played into his decision to re-sign with the LA Galaxy, and most of them were related to his love of Southern California and the organization he's represented since 2005.
Clint Dempsey's return to Major League Soccer, and the ample contract the Seattle Sounders awarded him, didn't really have any influence, Donovan says, but the statement it made -- and the statement that he's now making -- might serve as the watershed moment in the league's bid to take its place among the world's best.
“I think for all of us, I think we're seeing a little bit of a tipping point right now,” Donovan said after the Galaxy announced Wednesday he'd signed a “long-term” contract. “When you have a guy like Clint Dempsey, with all that he's done and the player that he is, wanting to be in our league, it makes a big statement. You look at someone like Robbie Keane, who I think we can all agree that he could play anywhere in the world, and he has decided to come here. Not only did he decide to come here, he decided to re-up and stay here. He wanted to be here.”
The Galaxy have done their part in creating this landscape, with the Keane and David Beckham signings and Omar Gonzalez's new contract, and that's at the core of Donovan's desire to finish his career with the club.
“This for me runs a lot deeper than a contract,” he said. “This for me is personal and it's emotional, and not many athletes anymore have the opportunity to play in one place for a long time in their career, not many athletes have the opportunity to play at home, not many athletes have the opportunity to play with an organization like this.
“I'm proud that I've been part of this team for so long, and I want to continue that. I like the direction the club is going in going forward. I'm excited about our chances this year and in the future. Obviously, I'm proud of what we accomplished in the past, and it all trends very well, and it's something I want to be a part of going forward.”
Donovan, who has won three of his five MLS Cup championship rings with LA, said he thought the Galaxy gave him his best chance to play a role in next year's World Cup, that he felt respected and desired and “treated the right way” by the organization, and that the club was his home.
“This,” he said, “is right for me.”
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“You don't get the opportunity as an athlete to play for an organization like this very often,” Donovan said. “I talk to a lot of guys around the league and I talk to athletes in other sports, and all I hear is complaining about how poorly run their organizations are. It's the opposite here. Everybody wants to be here. When a guy like David Beckham comes here and leaves, now I speak to players in Europe, and they say, 'Gosh, David couldn't stop raving about what a wonderful place the LA Galaxy is.'
“So I love being here. I love playing here. I get to play in front of my family. We have a beautiful stadium here at StubHub Center. We have wonderful fans. We're a successful team, and it's a team that is clearly committed to the future, with keeping Robbie [Keane] around, keeping guys like Juninho, A.J. [DeLaGarza], Sean Franklin around. The youth development, with Gyasi [Zardes] and Jose Villarreal and Jack McBean. And then recently signing [Gonzalez], the best defender in the league, to a long-term commitment when he also clearly had options to go elsewhere. All these factors made it clear to me that this was the place to stay.”
How long can Donovan, 31, play on?
“If I feel like this, I can play presumably a long time,” Donovan said. “I spend a lot of time and money on my body every year to make sure that I'm in top shape. I continue that throughout the year, and when I'm mentally in a place I'm in now and where I'm going to be going forward, there's no reason I can't play for many years.”