Since taking a leave of absence from soccer, Landon Donovan has avoided interviews and public appearances. But on Wednesday, the U.S. national team’s career scoring leader was the guest at a University of Southern California forum.
A student, Jesse Xiao, tweeted many of Donovan’s comments. Among the highlights:
“I do have an interest in playing for the USMNT again, if given the opportunity, I would”
“Soccer is not a big part of me…I feel like I have so much more to give post soccer…that’s how I want to be remembered”
“I’m leaving tonight and going to Cambodia for 10 days”
Donovan is scheduled to resume workouts with the Los Angeles Galaxy in late March and return to MLS action in late April. He will miss the U.S. World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico next month but might be in line for service against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras in June.
Outside of his own family and the Galaxy family, few know Donovan as well as D.C. United midfielder John Thorrington. They were teammates at Bayer Leverkusen between 1999 and 2001, lived two minutes apart and spent much of their free time together. To this day, they remain good friends and confide in one another.
Thorrington, 33, said he has spoken with Donovan, who turns 31 on March 4, more often than usual this winter. Without divulging private discussions, he shared these thoughts on Donovan’s hiatus:
“Nobody can fault his service for his club or national team. He has played in big games, he has had to carry the weight of multiple teams at the same time. Off the field, he has been the face of U.S. soccer. It’s a lot to carry. Credit to him: He has done it well and been very successful. He is a hard-working guy.
“If you have a player who is not motivated, good for him for being honest. Take some time away to make sure you are as motivated as you need to be. I don’t think one person has the right to judge him or fault his decision. Nobody in the history of U.S. soccer has had to deal with all the pressure he has — not one. He has been doing this since 1999: international games, international travel, World Cups, MLS.
“He is arguably the greatest of all-time [in American soccer]. I strongly disagree with the people who say, ‘Oh, he should do this.’ I don’t think anybody is in a position to say what Landon should or shouldn’t do, or he needs to give this back. Because he has given the last 15 years of his life to it.
“He has earned the right to take whatever path he needs to make sure he is motivated to give everything. … I know I would much rather play against the Galaxy before he returns.”