The Los Angeles Galaxy have acquired U.S. international forward and three-time reigning Honda Player of the Year Landon Donovan, the club announced today. Per Galaxy policy, terms of the deal were not announced.
Donovan, 23, a fixture on the U.S. national team since the run-up to FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan 2002, played most recently with Bayer 04 Leverkusen of the German Bundesliga (January-March, 2005). His brief time in Germany came after an extremely successful four-year stint with the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer.
"We are very pleased with today's announcement as it marks another chapter in the Galaxy's tradition of bringing exceptional players to our club over the last decade," said Galaxy President and General Manager Doug Hamilton. "Landon is a young player of great pedigree who has produced wonderful results for both club and country. We look forward to him enjoying a long and successful career in Galaxy gold."
In his four-year Earthquakes career, which spanned 87 regular season matches, Donovan scored 32 goals and recorded 29 assists. In the playoffs, the Redlands, Calif. native was at his best, scoring 10 goals and notching six assists in 14 career contests.
"My decision to return to MLS and be part of a growing dynasty of champions with the Los Angeles Galaxy is one that I have made with thoughtful consideration," said Donovan. "MLS competition continues to vie for a place among the world's leading leagues and can only continue to grow if the American player plies his trade here. For the last decade, MLS has seen internationals coming to the States to be part of this league and if we, as Americans, can't contribute to our league, it's a bit of a disservice in growing soccer here in the U.S. and making MLS as fierce as it can be. With every National Team call up of an MLS player, it only further proves that it's not only ok to play professionally in our own backyard, but is an honor."
The dynamic, creative, energetic player was originally signed by Bayer Leverkusen as a 16-year-old and played two years in their reserve system before moving to the Quakes via a unique two-year, co-sharing agreement between the German club and Major League Soccer. The terms of that deal gave the Bundesliga club the right to recall the veteran at the end of the 2002 season.
However, negotiations between MLS, Bayer Leverkusen and Donovan's agent, Richard Motzkin of SportsNet, LLC resulted in a new two-year co-sharing arrangement on Dec. 18, 2002. As in the case of the first co-sharing deal between MLS and Bayer Leverkusen, the second deal also provided the German club an option on the forward's contract at the conclusion of the 2004 season, which Leverkusen exercised.
"We are very excited about adding a player of Landon's stature and experience," said Galaxy Head Coach Steve Sampson. "He, combined with the players this club already has, will only add fortune to fortune. We welcome his arrival and look forward to working with him. I am sure he is going to be a very positive element on and off the field for the Los Angeles Galaxy."
After a stellar performance at FIFA Under-17 World Championship New Zealand 1999, where he received the Golden Ball award, Donovan became one of the youngest Americans ever to sign a professional contract overseas when he joined Leverkusen in February of 1999. After signing the first of two co-sharing agreements between the Bundesliga side and MLS, he was a member of the U.S. team at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney that placed fourth there.
In 2001, the reigning two-time U.S. Soccer Chevrolet Male Athlete of the Year led the Earthquakes to the first of two MLS Cup championships in three seasons, scoring seven regular season goals and chipping in an incredible five in only six playoff games, including the equalizer in the cup final against the Galaxy. Meanwhile, he cemented his role with the USA's full national side in the run-up to the 2002 FIFA World Cup. He has now amassed 60 caps for his country while registering 19 goals, providing four goals and seven assists in 11 CONCACAF qualifying matches to 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany.
In 2002, Donovan again scored seven goals during MLS regular season play, helping San Jose to a second place finish in the Western Conference while splitting time between the Quakes and the U.S. national team at the World Cup. He started each of the five games on the world stage for the USA and scored two goals in the historic World Cup run, which ended with a narrow 1-0 loss to Germany in the quarterfinals. Donovan's prowess allowed him to garner Honorable Mention on the All-World Cup Team.
The following year he led the Earthquakes to their second MLS Cup title in club history, scoring 12 goals during the regular season to earn MLS Best XI honors for the first time. He also notched four goals in the playoffs and another two in MLS Cup 2003, earning him MLS Cup MVP honors in San Jose's 4-2 victory over Chicago, a game played at The Home Depot Center.
The Los Angeles Galaxy open their 2005 home schedule on Saturday, April 9 against Major League Soccer expansion side Real Sale Lake. The 7 pm (PT) kickoff features the return of former Galaxy star Clint Mathis to MLS after a stint in Germany. For more information or to order tickets to the match, call the Galaxy ticket office toll free at 1-877-3GALAXY.