TGIF: Donovan is coming back, but 2009 should be his MLS farewell

Landon Donovan ( 

                                       Photo by

Landon Donovan is coming back to MLS.

No, that isn't a surprise. Anyone who tracked his loan with Bayern Munich saw his stock take an AIG-like tumble in recent weeks. We all knew he was returning, but what the LA Galaxy's announcement on Thursday did was help bring some sense of calm over what has become a circus-like atmosphere in Galaxy-land thanks to Mr. Posh.

It is easy for some to forget that Donovan has been the most stable part of the Galaxy organization, and has been for years, which is why the Galaxy couldn't wait to let it's fans know that all was not last as David Beckham sat in Italy begging not to come back to MLS.

As much as the whole Beckham fiasco has probably made Galaxy fans more grateful for still having Donovan, the reality is that it is time for Donovan to go to Europe and stay in Europe. Yes, we have heard that before, but the difference now is that Donovan actually wants to go, and he looks ready to make the most of the opportunity.

For all intents and purposes, the 2009 MLS season should serve as Donovan's farewell tour. Forget that whole Beckham coming back at mid-season tour (which has disaster written all over it, if that scenario actually plays out). The upcoming season should be Donovan's last in MLS before he goes and gives Europe one more proper try.

The Bayern Munich loan was anything but your standard move and can't be counted as a legitimate chance for Donovan. As much as Juergen Klinsmann likes Donovan and wanted to give him a chance, the Bayern Munich board was never really interested and the only way Donovan could have changed its mind was with a string of Bundesliga goals.

The goals never came and Donovan never really settled in, even after a promising run-up to the second half of the season. He showed an ability to get involved, and make good decisions, but he never did make an impact and failed to give Klinsmann the ammunition to try and lobby for a transfer.

Does this mean Donovan's chances of ever succeeding in Europe are over? Not in the least. If anything, his time at Bayern has shown us a player far more comfortable on the European stage than the one we saw struggle badly in his second go-round with Bayer Leverkusen. No, Donovan didn't dominate, but he did show glimpses of a player who is better equipped for the move overseas.

That is why 2009 has to be it for Donovan in MLS. He has done more than enough for the league during his career, and after this season he should be given every opportunity to make a permanent move abroad to a club where he will be given a legitimate chance to settle in and become a solid contributor.

Whether Donovan actually succeeds once he goes to Europe isn't the point. What matters is that Donovan has earned the chance to try. He has one more year to help the Galaxy find stability and its first playoff berth in three years, but after that MLS and the Galaxy should make it as easy as possible for Donovan to move on. After years as the only reliable figure in the circus known as the Galaxy, Donovan has earned that right.


What do you think about Donovan's return to MLS? Is it time for him to leave the league? Think he should give up on his European dreams? Do you see him going to Europe next winter and being a star?

Share your thoughts below.


Follow SBI on Twitter

This entry was posted in MLS- LA Galaxy, U.S. Men's National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

75 Responses to TGIF: Donovan is coming back, but 2009 should be his MLS farewell

  1. Ernie says:

    I thought he looked decent in the relatively few minutes he was given. He will easily fit in and contribute in any number of Euro clubs. I could definitely see a mid-table EPL club or maybe a fringe top team in La Liga.

  2. Pablo P. says:

    Lets hope LD’s next foray into Europe will not be in the Bundesliga. I would like to see him with a lower table English or Spanish first division club, so he can play regularly.

  3. Murphy says:

    I agree. He needs to go overseas after this season. I think he looked a lot better over there than earlier attempts. He should go to Germany or Spain after the MLS Season and be ready to go for the summer of 2010.

    Ives–could you write more on why you think Beckham coming back in July will be a disaster for the Galaxy? I think its better than not having him. Beckham always seemed to give a lot of effort when in L.A. It would be great if they could make the playoffs and make a run as Beckham’s farewell…

  4. Will says:

    I think if the salary cap is raised in a new collective bargaining agreement, the Galaxy might be able to make him an offer worth staying.

  5. Cam says:

    He will be a diamond wherever he ends up after this season. We’ll need him to be at the peak of his career at World Cup 2010 if the U.S. is to do well.

    Buck Feckham.

  6. Alex says:

    A team in Europe has to want him, has to buy him, has to pay him, and has to play him – regardless of what any of us say “should” happen in his career. But I agree he has nothing more to prove in MLS – he actually hasnt had much to prove for the past several years.

  7. LJ says:

    Doesn’t matter Will, he wants to do europe for part of his career now.

  8. Cam says:

    …and I actually hope Davey boy comes back so I and all other true MLS fans can heckle him at every game.

  9. Steve C says:

    Valencia sells David Villa.. and signs LD. =]

  10. malkin says:

    I agree w/ Murphy…what’s so disastrous about beckham coming back midseason? Curious to know your thoughts…

  11. MickND says:

    @ Will

    It’s not about the money. For Donovan it should be about the level of competition and the respect. I’m sure he would have taken a pay cut to play regularly for BM.

  12. jmac says:

    Is he out of contract after 2009? Will MLS’ transfer fee price be too high and scare off bidders? These are crucial questions.

  13. steve007 says:

    How about xerex for donny cakes?

  14. usa_mag says:

    newcastle could use a creative attacking midfielder in the center of the pitch

  15. steve007 says:

    Valencia sells David Villa.. and signs LD. =]

    So he can be on the stands like Alitidore?

  16. Hood_Rich says:

    Maybe they should just change their name to Hollywood Galaxy as FC Hollywood is taken by Bayern Munich. LOL

  17. Dusty says:

    As soon as Donovan and Beckham are gone the Galaxy can actually concentrate on putting together a real team.

    A real lower-tier team like the rest of MLS has. Putting world class players to play next to USL imports doesn’t work. Its all about the quality of the team not the quality of two of its players.

  18. Matt L says:

    Dear Landon Donovan:

    Please enjoy your year at MLS and do not get hurt. Please adivse your agent to seek interest from teams in Spain. The climate, speed and style of play, and language all suit you. Please pick a mid-table team which allow you get get ample playing time with the first team.



  19. Ives says:

    JMac, as far as I know Donovan still has option years on his deal, which is why I wrote that MLS needs to make it as easy as possible for him to leave. That doesn’t mean letting him walk for free, but it does mean being reasonable on the transfer fee they look for.

    As for why Beckham returning at mid-season will be a disaster, are there people who really like that idea? He doesn’t want to play here anymore. Having him comeback for a half season seems pretty pointless. Not saying he won’t try hard, but there is going to be a backlash if Beckham stays at Milan and then shows up at mid-season when it is clear he will leave after the 2009 season. I just don’t see the point, but that’s just my opinion.

  20. John Godfrey says:

    Two things:

    1) When he was given minutes, he scored (albeit these were friendlies).

    2) How do you write a 600-word piece about LD possibly going to Europe next year without once referencing his contract status? It seems to me that this will be a fundamental component of the equation.

  21. cam says:

    he looks perfect for a mid table premier league club. everton could really use him, so could west ham.

  22. Wolfgang Lars Dokken says:

    I think LD can succeed in a top UEFA league, but not as a target forward. To me, he appeared overmatched in that role against Bundesliga defenders. Put him in the midfield from where he can make his trademark deep runs, and he’ll do fine.

  23. pat says:

    why is beckham coming back to the us such a disaster? i think fans would enjoy booing him every time he touches the ball, and mls would get some good exposure with him in his role as league villain.

  24. Ives says:

    John, did you miss this line near the end, “but after that MLS and the Galaxy should make it as easy as possible for Donovan to move on.”

    This means he is under contract beyond 2009, because if he was free after 2009 MLS and the Galaxy couldn’t get in his way anyway, could they? As it stands, MLS and the Galaxy will control what Donovan can do after 2009 and in my opinion they should let him go and not make it overly difficult for him to leave.

  25. Chad says:

    I would think buying Donovan would be a good marketing decision for a team, no? It would increase their profile here in the States and they would sell tons of his shirts. How many shirts does Donovan sell in a season?

    I would’ve bought a Donovan 13 shirt from his time in Bayern…

  26. Jeff says:

    No offense but are people really this clueless? If Donovan were out of contract after this year we would have heard about it by now. He’s under contract for a few more years. That’s common knowledge to anybody paying attention.

  27. green says:

    “. . . what has become a circus-like atmosphere in Galaxy-land thanks to Mr. Posh.”


    “After years as the only reliable figure in the circus known as the Galaxy. . .
    First it’s DB’s fault, then it’s always been that way?

    Glad you figured that one out in the end. Us SJ fans have known that all along :)

  28. Joe says:

    It’s hard to be impressive when you only get 10-20 minutes a game and the last whistle blows before you get a chance to relaly settle into it. Sadly, in the games where he had more time on the field it seems like there was never any proper service for him or Klose or Toni or whoever was left in. Under those circumstances, not much you can do.

    That being said, I agree that he showed great potential and given a team in the right situation I’m sure he will stand out. I could see him with a Prem club, even Arsenal, as much as I hate the Gunners.

  29. HIncha Tim says:

    I think the loan was very good for Landon. In the games I saw him play in, it seemed that the other BM players did not want to involve him at all, so he seemed lost, out of the cog. I think he could do well with the right club if he is put in the right position with the right type of club. A midlevel Spanish league team that allows him to play in some space would be great.

  30. Matt C says:

    Agree with one of the other posters. Mid-table Prem club. Everton, A-Villa, Fulham (they’re mid-table now…for a little while anyway)or Wet Spam. I think it would be a good idea for him to be in or near London. I used to think Spain was a good idea too….but i’m not certain anymore.

    Midtable Prem or top two in Holland. He’d have a blast in Holland….at least on the field.

  31. clyde says:

    I think Donovan coming back from Bayern Munich is a blessing in disguise. His only champion at the club – Klinsmann – will be gone soon and LD would have become immediately unwanted. It’s happening to far too many great young American players as it is.

  32. CACuzcatlan says:

    After the Beckham fiasco, I truly appreciate Donovan. I am no longer on the fence about him. He was inconsistent in the past, but at least he was always dedicated to the club. Unlike that traitorous disloyal dog they call David Beckham. If Beckham returns, I hope we (Galaxy) don’t win the MLS Cup. I’d hate to see him get any glory or think he played any positive role for the club. Like George Lopez says, FTP!

    If you don’t know what that means, look for it on youtube.

  33. John Godfrey says:

    is he under contract until 2010? 2011? beyond? is there an escape clause of any sort? these are knowable facts that should be part of the story, in my opinion.

  34. STL says:

    the premier league is to physical for donvoan no way he would succeed there. and no way he would be goo d enough for any la liga team nor will any la liga team consider him. he is the most creative american player but when it comes to la liga no way does he have the technique or abiltiy to hang. the only league he could POSIBBLY succeed in are france or holland. holland he could play as a wing forward for on of the big three and score 10-15 goals, other than that he is not really fit for europe. he would do better in mexico.

  35. kpugs says:

    I don’t think anyone should have expected Lando to dominate at one of the few legitimate “big clubs” in Europe. This little offseason loan spell kept him in shape AND guaranteed that he would gladly be signed (not necessarily by another “big club”) permanently in any European league he wants to go to.

    I hate the way he acts in MLS, diving and screaming at referees and acting like he’s a god, and how dare anyone tackle him? But that’s not the real Donovan…he is a different creature for the national team and was for Bayern.

    Bottom line is, if he can get MLS to sell him, he is gone, and if he picks the right team he will be a first XI player. That team might not be Bayern, but few are. Or, one is, to be exact. 😛

  36. Joe says:

    Donovan would only get regular playing time in a relegation battle type team. He would be 27 or 28 by then. He is too small and weak for the EPL imo.

  37. Turtle says:

    John Godfrey – write your own EDITORIAL piece on the subject and include whatever info you want. This is Ives’ opinion. It is not an article on how to make the move happen. It’s simply an opinion that he should go.

  38. Mark says:

    A move in 2010 doesn’t make a ton of sense since that is a WC year and he’ll be wanted in the US for long camps away from Europe throughout most of winter 2010 and then will miss the the benefit of being in midseason form as MLS players are when WC begins that summer.

    Or am I wrong?

  39. jtd says:

    murphy… if you’re one of the gals, and superstar DB begrudgingly comes back mid-season to your club, gets the fanfare and glory after you’ve worked your a$$ off all season longhow do you feel? especially after he’s dissed the club/league. i know i wouldn’t want him in my locker room. give me two decent guys in leiu of DB’s 400,000 hit. actually it wouldn’t take much to find someone for under 200k to match DB’s stats from last year. it would take even less to find someone to trot around the field aimlessly ala becks in the 2nd half of the season.

    but then, if becks does come back for that half season, i WILL make it a point to make it to some galaxy games in order to jeer him.

  40. Luke in NC says:

    He just needs to go somewhere that’ll play him….he didnt wow enough to go too high up in europe, you’d think….but lets all hope he can go to a top league, play regularly, and tally some goals/assists.

  41. JoeW says:

    1. Let me add to what Ives said about why this Beckham thing has disaster all over it for LAG. They will have to cut a pretty good player (who you assume is playing an important role on the team) to free cap and roster room for Beckham. He’ll be coming back after 1/2 season in Italy (which just begs injury for an over 30 player). He’s got several English NT matches. Even if he doesn’t miss any LAG games, the flite from LA to London–that’s a doozy. I’m going to be surprised if Beckham plays more than 8 games for the LAG this season.

    2. While I agree with Ives philosphically, as a selfish NT supporter, I’d look for Landon to make his move in August 2010. Here’s why:
    –if he moves at the August transfer window and goes to a club where he plays a lot of minutes, this will have been near constant soccer for Donovan since January 2009 (and this will be a busy summer for him given Confed Cup, Gold Cup and WCQs). I’d expect him to be worn out or injured by South Africa.
    –if he goes to a club either in August or January and then doesn’t play much, we get a critical NT member going into the WC who has basically gotten minutes only from USNT matches. That’s a bad way to round Donovan into form.

  42. Chad says:

    Landon’s in kind of a pickle as far as transferring goes.

    The rich clubs like the Big 4 and RM and Barca in Spain who can afford his pricetag (more than the $10 mill for Jozy, obviously) will be able to recruit the best of anyone internationally.

    The mid-table clubs probably wouldn’t be interested in paying that much for him. They seem to be bargain hunters like Moyes (Everton).

  43. Tom P says:

    He seems to have really grown up since the WC 06 horrible performance. I find myself rooting for him now which is a big switch from how I felt about him in the aftermath of the last WC. I hope he gets his chance with the right situation where he can really show his talents.

  44. CM says:

    It wouldn’t shock me to see LD end up with Arsenal if he ends up in Englad. Gazidis is obviously familiar with him, and he could fit into Arsenal’s style – though he and Arshavin would be fighting for minutes.

  45. Kevin says:

    In my opinion La Liga would be best for him, I like the idea someone said if Valencia sells Villa, Donovan could go there.

  46. Goalscorer24 says:

    I absolutely agree that Donovan needs to go to Europe, seems to want to, and looks more ready to suceed then he did in his previous endeavors. Unfortunately, I don’t think Donovan’s contract with MLS ends until 2010. So hopefully MLS does not ask for too much and keep potential suitors away.

  47. Chase says:

    “the premier league is to physical for donvoan no way he would succeed there. and no way he would be goo d enough for any la liga team nor will any la liga team consider him. he is the most creative american player but when it comes to la liga no way does he have the technique or abiltiy to hang. the only league he could POSIBBLY succeed in are france or holland. holland he could play as a wing forward for on of the big three and score 10-15 goals, other than that he is not really fit for europe. he would do better in mexico.”

    Wow, I think a big European club should hire you as a scout. You seem to have everything figured out…

  48. The Good Capn says:

    Fulham is always in the market for American talent. Craven Cottage for Landy cakes?

  49. Nicole says:

    I agree with you, Ives. I’m actually hoping he can go in the summer transfer window; if not, definitely during the winter transfer. MLS needs to help him out and lower his transfer fee, especially given the economic times we live in.

  50. STL says:

    donovan fighting with Arshavin ohh that is a good one… it would be like tyson in his prime for pee wee herman donvoan is not even close to being arshavin aresenal caliber.

  51. Ives says:

    John, two things. First, this was a column, not a news story. Secondly, there is a difference between what you would LIKE TO KNOW and what NEEDS to be in a story.

  52. John Godfrey says:


    Ives asked the following: “Do you see him going to Europe next winter and being a star?”

    I responded by saying that without knowing his contract status, it’s a very difficult question to answer. If he’s under contract through 2011, MLS will slap a huge price tag on him and make it difficult for him to leave. If LD is only stuck in MLS until 2010, that’s another matter.

    I just think a little bit more reporting would have encouraged a smarter discussion. Sorry if I offended your delicate sensibilities or dared to challenge your hero.

  53. MiamiAl says:

    Landycakes is soft…He should see Eddie Johnson’s sports head shrinker..

  54. Leon says:

    Donovan to Everton was over the top but then someone comes in with Donovan to Aresenal, damn some of you guys have lost it. Fulham is about the only realistic possibility of a EPL move (or a team that would be relegated the same year they buy him)

  55. Landon should steel himself in preparation this season then get his backside over to Europe for next season. He has the capability to play top league football and he should do it.

    His style of play might fit Spain, but they may also have a lot of similar (but better?) talent. Another thought – since he has thrived in the rough and tumble of MLS, perhaps he is one of those players who’ll handle the physicality of the EPL well.

    I think I like him for Fulham, who could use a bit more attacking talent. And who knows? Fulham is doing well this year, with a little more talent in the squad perhaps they could try to ask questions higher up in the table and even compete for a CL spot.

    Yeah, what am I smoking?! Still, it’s football, you never know.

  56. understood says:

    i will eat every shoe in my closet…then ill run naked across the united states if beckham actually comes back this summer…theres no way hes coming back…this is the same okeydoke that he pulled with the loan in the first place…come end of may hes DEFINITELY gonna weasel his way out of coming back…the only thing i hope is that the mls and the galaxy have already established clear financial terms FROM NOW for that inevitable conclusion…it would suck to have to go through this whole BS back and forth again in the summertime

  57. art says:

    He also maybe needs to not be pigeonholed as a striker, IMHO.

  58. Cornchops says:

    Landon is one of the most well-known American players, and he has served the MLS well by staying this long.

  59. TimN says:

    At this juncture, Beckham should just go. He will no longer have ANY fan support in L.A., and this rumored mid-season return will only serve to disrupt team chemistry, IMHO.

    As for Donovan, I think this analysis is spot on. He’ll play one more season with L.A., then head to Europe, and I’d say the EPL would be high on the list. NO LA LIGA!! He’ll disappear. Donovan could fit in quite well at a number of EPL clubs, but should avoid the big 4 (Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester United) like the plaque. I wouldn’t mind seeing him suit up for a club like Everton, West Ham, or Aston Villa, and LD definitely has the pace for the English game.

  60. Acme says:

    I don’t care as long as he isn’t on my Bayern Munich anymore.

  61. Joseph says:

    I’ve never liked donovan that much. I don’t think he’ll survive or do well in Europe. He has good athletic ability and technical skill on the ball, but I think his vision for the game is sorely lacking.

    Which is why he’ll be great in leagues like the MLS, or maybe the dutch league or some of the lower leagues in europe, but I don’t see him succeeding in England, Spain, Italy or Germany, or even France.

  62. Jones71 says:

    There is no chance of Donovan completing the 2009 MLS season. He is gone in the Summer transfer window to a team like Fulham, or Everton or Deportivo La Coruna.

    His recent Bayern Munich stint proved that he’s ready for European football more than previous attempts; but it also proved he’s not good enough to play for a UEFA Champions League level team.

    No crime in that, nevertheless, he’s not hanging around the MLS for another full season. Particularly without Beckham.

  63. BK says:

    Donovan needs a soft and cuddley feeling in order to play well and Klinsmann is probably the only coach in Europe that could do that for him, in my opinion. Donovan won’t succeed in Europe, I’m afraid.

  64. Joe B. NYC says:

    “donovan fighting with Arshavin ohh that is a good one… it would be like tyson in his prime for pee wee herman donvoan is not even close to being arshavin aresenal caliber.”

    Now, how many games (minutes) has Arshavin played without scoring for Arsenal? I think they could use Donovan…

  65. Joe B. NYC says:

    I mean, I’m glad Arshy doesn’t play for Bayern Munich. But then again didn’t his lower-tier team totally BLAZE Bayern in the UEFA Cup???

    Of course he’ll get the time (and minutes) he needs to mesh into the Arsenal system. A lot more time than Lanny had…

  66. Matt F says:

    donovan is too small and weak for the EPL? Aaron lennon, ashley young, david bentley, shawn wright phillips, cesc fabregas, carlos tevez all these guys are smaller or the same size as landon donovan. And weak? have you ever seen donovan play a game in person, hes absolutely strong on the ball, i saw him play against the swedish national team and he was holding off guys who were like 6’2, 6’4 with one arm. Donovan is a physical freak he can definitely handle himself.

  67. Sandro says:

    I would like to see LD in La Liga. I think his style is better equipped for La Liga. He also speaks spanish which would help him getting settled in.

  68. dallen says:

    It’s not as if Klinnsy did him any favors.

    Playing Landon up top, deep with either Klose and Toni instead of withdrawn where he can run to through balls or receive the ball and turn and run with it is where he should play. Doesn’t take a Fergusonian football mind to see that.

  69. sublicon says:

    I really don’t understand why he didn’t go somewhere else at least. What was his agent doing this whole time? Nobody has use for a Donovan? I find that very hard to believe.

  70. GTR says:

    he failed to impress what makes anyone think any club in europe will want him? maybe a bottom table club if anything.

  71. A.S. says:

    I agree with John Godfrey that the column should have dealt more with the contract situation, since that has a very important bearing on what will happen with him. Sorry, Ives.

    As to Donovan, I think his agent has been doing a VERY bad job. Whose idea was it to go to Bayern in the first place? It was an idiotic idea to go to a club that already had many, many attacking and wing options. If he was interested in a good trial to showcase his talent to Europeans, he should have gone to a place that would have given him playing time.

    All in all, this entire episode has been a big debacle. He needs to start being more careful with his career.

  72. Sean says:

    I disagree with the assessment that Donovan wouldn’t do well in the Premiership. In fact, I think his keen vision on the field works well in end-to-end, wide-open matches like the Premiership style. Now, I’m not saying he belongs at Man U or Chelsea. But, one of the middle-tier clubs would do well to bring him on board.

    I just want him playing in England, Germany, Spain, or Italy. That’s where he belongs. I guess if he went to Brazil or Argentina, that would still elevate his competition. Wherever it is, I hope he goes. MLS does owe him quite a lot and the transfer fee and his value to the league make for a very difficult situation for him. Even if a club thinks they’d like him, he could be priced too highly.

  73. Sean says:

    Not sure it would happen, CM, but interesting point on the Arsenal tip. Could it be a situation like Bayern where Ivan uses some muscle to bring him in for a look?

  74. PetedeLA says:

    It may dishearten a lot of fans out there, but during the German Cup (Liga Pokal) the commentator, Marcel Reif (actually quite respected) said Donovan is not good enough for the Bundesliga.
    I have to disagree with Ives (or whoever wrote this piece). Donovan’s stock has dropped, and I think he did look better in Leverkusen. Heck, if I’m not mistaken he helped them win a Champions League game. He had a huge problem with the coach at the time, Klaus Augenthaler. But he was too young to realize that crappy coaches will come and go.
    Can someone explain why some of you guys think Donovan will be some kind of midfield beast? He’s got no power, very LITTLE presence. He always looks great on the counter attack, but I don’t see much more. I like him, but unfortunately I see him as a poor man’s Saviola.
    La Liga would be a perfect fit, but I see him having a more difficult time fitting in than Josy. At least Josy is super young and has GREAT FUTURE written all over his body.
    If Europe doesn’t pan out, LD should go to Mexico.

  75. milo says:

    Id like to see him in La Liga(The Spanish 1st div)