Landon Donovan is one of the most talented and decorated American soccer players we have ever had. After Donovan retired in 2014 as an MLS Cup champion, we all assumed that was it. And then after he came back for the second half of LA Galaxy’s 2016 season and retired, we figured that was definitely it.
That was until earlier this week where there were rumors that 35-year-old Landon Donovan would be heading to Mexico to play in Liga MX for Club Leon. On the surface, it made absolutely no sense and anyone with half a brain dismissed it as a stupidly made up rumor that usually infiltrates the transfer season. But after Donovan himself responded to León’s president Friday night and actually said he wanted to play in Mexico, this move may actually happen.
After the offer was floated by León president Jesús Martínez Murguia, Donovan responded and tweeted the following.
Presidente: me encantó la Ciudad. Es la mejor afición. @clubleonfc es un equipo histórico y ganador. No creo en los muros, quiero ir a México, vestirme de verde y ganar trofeos con León. Nos vemos muy pronto! https://t.co/Xqm4jX2hW7
— Landon Donovan (@landondonovan) January 13, 2018
Translated: “I loved the city, it’s the best fans. Club León is a historic and winning team. I don’t believe in walls. I want to go to Mexico, wear green and win trophies with León. We’ll see each other very soon!” Martínez replied, “I knew it. You always wanted green. Welcome to ‘La Fiera!’ You’re now a Club León player.”
Unless this is some joke that Donovan has concocted, he might actually come out of retirement to play in Mexico. Even former USMNT teammate Omar Gonzalez, who plays for Pachuca, gave Donovan a welcome to Liga MX and said he couldn’t wait to play against him.
So as we wrap our heads around this potential reality, one has to wonder why Donovan is doing this now. It’s realistic that León is giving Donovan a kind of “Godfather” offer he couldn’t refuse, but given his poor form when he last played for LA a couple years ago (one goal in six matches) and his Fox broadcast work as well as his work with the Swansea front office, you’d think Donovan wouldn’t give that up so he could play the occasional León match. Donovan isn’t exactly going to make an impact for Club León so he wouldn’t necessarily be an on-pitch game changer.
Maybe, just maybe, this is a move meant to have a deeper meaning. By having the best American player (maybe until Pulisic is a few years older) play in Mexico, that could be the catalyst for Liga MX to gain an even bigger viewership base. Liga MX consistently has higher club soccer ratings in the United States than even MLS and the Premier League, but there isn’t any solid English language coverage of Liga MX and that has been an issue. Maybe Donovan coming to Mexico to play in Liga MX can make the league even more popular in the United Sates and attract English-speaking Americans to the league.
Time will tell and when it comes to Donovan actually playing for Club León, I’ll still only believe it when I actually see him holding a León shirt. But over the past few days, the thought of Landon Donovan coming out of retirement went from nonsense to serious, so just about anything can happen at this point.
UPDATE: And it is official, Landon Donovan is heading to Club León.
— Club León (@clubleonfc) January 13, 2018