3 Min Read
(Reuters) - Landon Donovan bid an emotional farewell to the United States national team in a 1-1 friendly draw against Ecuador in Hartford, Connecticut on Friday.
Donovan was unable to add to his record 57 goals in his 157th and final appearance for his country before being replaced in the 41st minute of the game.
The 32-year-old came close, though, striking the post in the 25th minute after being set up by Jozy Altidore.
Mix Diskerud had given the United States the lead in the fifth minute with a confident finish at the end of a move that was started by a Donovan burst down the left and cross to the back post.
Juergen Klinsmann's team were denied a victory by a superb 88th minute goal from Enner Valencia, the striker beating Brad Guzan with a dipping, swerving drive from 25 meters out.
But the game itself, featuring a young American team without most of Donovan's long-term team mates such as Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard, took second billing to what was in effect a testimonial game for the L.A. Galaxy forward.
For 14 years Donovan has been the face of the U.S. team and Major League Soccer and in many ways he has been the first real domestic soccer star the country has produced.
Before the game Donovan was presented with a gift of a patchwork shirt made up of all the national team jerseys he had worn and after the game he stood in the center of the field watching a video of his career, wiping tears from his eyes.
After embracing his family at the side of the field, Donovan then headed into the stands to lead a chant with the organized fan group, 'The American Outlaws'.
Donovan's first-half substitution had been agreed beforehand - he has a Major League Soccer game to play with the Galaxy on Sunday - but did present the expected awkward moment when he was greeted by Klinsmann on the touchline.
Klinsmann's decision to leave Donovan out of the World Cup squad for Brazil in June - which would have been the striker's fourth finals - caused controversy in the American soccer world and clearly left a bitter aftertaste for Donovan.
Asked before the game in a television interview what the state of his relationship with Klinsmann was, Donovan had replied bluntly: "At this point we don't really have a relationship."
That was evident in the rather hesitant handshake and hug between the two on the touchline but for the fans who turned out the spirit of the night was captured in a series of banners declaring "Thank You Landon".
In an interview with ESPN after the game, Donovan said despite his relatively young age he felt it was the right time to depart.
"Mentally and physically, I am just there, I am ready. It has been a long haul and you know when you get to the end you have that feeling that enough has been enough, I feel that way," he said.
"I want to go out when I can still run and still enjoy playing. I don't want to get pushed out when I can't play anymore. I think now is the time," he said.
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Nick Mulvenney