Landon Donovan bids farewell as USA ties Ecuador

Published Friday, October 10, 2014 9:10 PM by Shane Barrow
Landon Donovan bids farewell as USA ties Ecuador

Tonight all eyes were on Hartford, as US Soccer prepared to turn the page on a historic career.  Landon Donovan suited up for the 157th time for our great national team as the Americans faced Ecuador.  A tribute to a true American superstar.  The greatest American soccer player ever.  Five World Cup goals.  57 total goals.  58 international assists.

He was surrounded by an interesting US squad.  Young speedsters on the wings with Joe Gyau and DeAndre Yedlin.  John Brooks in the central defense.  Greg Garza on the outside back.

I must admit the pre game Landon Donovan interview and segment brought a tear to my eyes.  My greatest experiences in American soccer involved him.  He always killed our rivals from Mexico.  The South Korea World Cup performances.  The spectacular rally and win over Algeria in South Africa.   Landon was in every one.

 It was sad to hear when he said he had no relationship with Klinsmann.  I put none of that on Landon and lay it all at the feet of Jurgen.  He simply never understood the mentality and talents of Landon Donovan and for me that is one of the special qualities of a coach.  Understand your players.  Klinsmann completely dropped the ball on this one and in the process disrespected an icon.  An icon that never deserved the treatment in any way.

Now that I am done with my rant, let's get tot the game.  It didn't take long for the US to jump ahead.  A quick free kick out of the back led to a Landon Donovan attack down the left flank.  LD launched a long cross to the back post where both Yedlin and Jozy Altidore were arriving.  Altidore kind of flubbed the initial ball it recovered and dropped a short pass to Yedlin who had the calm to find Mix Diskerud for the one time finish.  1-0 USA in the 5th minute.

Only a couple of minutes later Donovan nearly scored as he flicked a header on frame that forced a smart save from the Ecuador keeper.  LD was everywhere early on.  A free kick, a couple corners, a header on goal and the cross that led to the goal.

Unfortunately, soon after we saw Joe Gyau go down with a knee injury after a sprint down the left wing.  He went to ground after and immediately called for a substitution.  Not good.  I was looking forward to see the youngster after watching him several times with our youth national teams.

The US kept the pressure on and in the 25th minute a nifty back heel from Altidore put Donovan in on goal.  He fired low past the keeper only to see the ball come back off the right post.  Unlucky.

Moments later a Greg Garza free kick sent Ecuador on the counter.  Garza's kick was short and headed away leading to a long ball that released the Ecuadoran forward.  Timmy Chandler made a mess of things and Brad Guzan was forced into a good save.  The South Americans led a flurry of chances that called on Guzan to make two more solid saves in the next minute.

As we hit the thirty minute mark there were no signs of the planned sub for Donovan.  Maybe the Gyau injury caused a change in plans?  Fine with me!  Give him the whole half.

Oh well not quite.  In the 40th minute it was time.  The end of an era. Landon Donovan walked off the pitch in an American jersey for the final time.  Thank you Landon Donovan.

Truthfully the second half was just not too interesting for me.  After the wonderful halftime interview with LD, the intrigue was gone and the Americans played the second half like it.  Numerous substitutions broke up any flow to the match and as the 2nd half progresses Ecuador looked much the hungrier side.

Finally the visitors were able to tie it up in the final ten minutes of play as Enner Valencia knuckled a shot over Tim Ream that Brad Guzan could do itching more than watch bounce into the net.  The game would end in a draw, but I think few will remember the score. They'll remember the opening half where the great Landon Donovan played his last US minutes.