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Landon Donovan comes out of retirement for second time to play for León in Liga MX

  • Sat, 13 Jan 2018 15:44

The 35-year-old USMNT legend last played in 2016.

For the second time in three years, United States men’s national team legend Landon Donovan has come out of retirement. This time, the 35-year-old will make his way to Liga MX for the first time in his career, signing with Club León. The club announced the signing on Friday night.

Donovan first retired in 2014, following his controversial exclusion from the USMNT’s 2014 World Cup roster. He was given a testimonial match the following October, then finished the MLS season before walking away from the game. In 2016, with the LA Galaxy facing an injury crisis, Donovan came back for a nine-game spell and impressed, but declined to join the team for the 2017 season.

Though he reportedly considered running for U.S. Soccer president, Donovan declined to throw his hat into the ring, stating that he wanted a technical role with U.S. Soccer in the future and would stay away from the business and administration sides of the federation.

Donovan has been linked to a Liga MX move several times. Club América wanted him during the prime of his career, and Veracruz looked into signing him in 2013.

At León, Donovan could have opportunities for playing time on a decent team. León made the playoffs last season, finishing seventh, but was eliminated by eventual champions Tigres. The club has also made the playoffs in four of the past five seasons. No stars left León in the most recent transfer window, but backup attacker Jorge Pereyra departed, and the club lacks depth in attacking areas.

It’s anyone’s guess how effective Donovan will be, but there’s plenty of reason to believe this isn’t a gimmick and he can genuinely contribute for León. Donovan was surprisingly on top of his game when he returned for the Galaxy in 2016, and he has fewer games on his legs than most players his age due to his sabbaticals and the short seasons that MLS had in the middle of its life.

If you want to know how to watch Donovan, you can catch León’s home games on ESPN Deportes and ESPN3. Most of the club’s away games can be seen on Univision Deportes.

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