CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan wasn't saying whether it was his farewell performance. He doesn't yet know. Those around him hope it wasn't.
Donovan overcame a first-half miss on a shot he should have put away to help spearhead the LA Galaxy's 3-1 triumph on Saturday over Houston in the MLS Cup final at The Home Depot Center, converting a 65th-minute penalty kick for the go-ahead goal, then declared this title “a little more satisfying” than the one he won last year.
He missed a sure thing in the 13th minute, putting a Robbie Keane feed past the right post, and admitted he felt like he “let the team down. ... It sat with me till halftime. I took a few minutes at halftime, sort of collected myself and tried to stay present, because you can't change it.
“And when the penalty came, I'm not going to fool anyone and say I was calm about it. I was pretty nervous, but you have to keep going, and every one of [my teammates] after [the miss] said, ‘Forget about that, keep going, keep going.’ And I'm very appreciative of that.”
Donovan joined Jeff Agoos and Brian Mullan with his fifth MLS Cup win, furthered his record for playoff goals (22), goals in finals (five) and finals with goals (four), and set a mark for total goals, regular season and playoffs (146). Then he addressed why he might be done.
“I guess you could describe it that way, yeah,” he said. “It's just been a long two years. For all of us. It's not a woe-is-me story, but I have to listen to my heart and my gut, and right now my gut says to get away for awhile.”
Donovan has said he'll take some time off to replenish and decide then whether to continue his career, and that point was driven home for him during the postgame celebration.
“I had a really nice moment where my sister [Tristan, his twin] just had a baby, and she got to come down on the field, and he was sleeping on her,” he said. “It sort of puts it all in perspective and makes me realize I want to be close to my family for awhile, and I can figure out the soccer part later.”
Head coach Bruce Arena was asked if he would be surprised if Donovan walked away.
“I probably would be,” he said. “We will be fully supportive of whatever Landon wants to do. I think he still has so much to offer the game as a player. I think, hopefully, with a little bit of rest, he'll be ready to get back at some point, but we're going to support Landon anyway we can.”
Mike Magee said he hopes Donovan comes back at some point.
“If I was a betting man, which I am … I would say he comes back,” Magee said. “When, I don’t know. I hope he goes to Hawaii, and he can go as long as he wants. As long as he’s back by – we couldn’t do worse than we started this year. As long as he’s back before Game 14, I think we’re good.”