“Landon Donovan’s commitment to growing the game in North America is unrivaled and his contributions to Major League Soccer are immeasurable,” said Commissioner Don Garber. “When he joined MLS in 2001, he showed other American players that this was his ‘League of Choice.’ His legacy will be forever etched in our league’s history, and we appreciate everything he has accomplished, both on and off the field.”
The Southern California native, the all-time leader in MLS goals and assists, said he was “extremely humbled” by the gesture:
“As a child, soccer was merely an outlet for me — a way to express myself,” said Donovan. “To have this prestigious award named after me is truly unimaginable.
The 28-player roster contains the usual mix of veterans (Clint Dempsey, Chris Wondolowski), youngsters (Hawthorne’s Gyasi Zardes and Galaxy defender Oscar Sorto) and even some players veteran journalists have never heard of (but there’s no room for Galaxy left back Robbie Rogers or Omar Gonzalez for that matter).
Guess I'm washed up. 3 players on the #USMNT roster I have never, ever heard of.
The camp runs Monday through Feb. 8 at StubHub Center and culminates with a Feb. 8 friendly against Panama in Carson (more than 10,000 tickets sold already U.S. Soccer reported today). In between the team will head to Chile for a Jan. 28 friendly.
“The prize in 2015 for the senior National Team is the Gold Cup, and this camp will give a lot of our players a chance to kick start their preparations for an important year,” said coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “We also get an opportunity to introduce the next wave of young players into the program, and in particular work with many of our Olympic-age guys as they build toward qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.”
Notable: Zardes, 23, scored 16 goals during the 2014 MLS regular season.
Here’s the full roster:
goalkeepers – Alex Bono (unattached), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Jon Kempin (Sporting Kansas City), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake).
defenders — Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Christian Dean (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), Perry Kitchen (D.C. United), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy)
Midfielders – Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (out of contract), Dennis Flores (Club Leon), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Marc Pelosi (Liverpool FC), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids), Brek Shea (Orlando City SC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)
forwards – Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Julio Morales (Tepic), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
MLS has made a massive effort to schedule the vast majority of games on weekends (only three Wednesday Galaxy games in 2015) although the new television rights deal has dictated an increased number of Friday night games.
And although it makes scheduling a road trip to take in more than one away game a lot more challenging (Orlando in June or October in Seattle anyone?), MLS has also attempted to alternate home and away games in an apparent effort to get fans in the routine of expecting a home game every other week (something this critic has long wanted to boost attendance).
Among the tidbits: 14 games on national TV and the other 20 on local television, expansion team New York City FC visits StubHub Center Sunday, Aug. 23.
Here’s more from the Galaxy news release:
The first California Clasico against San Jose will take place when the Galaxy travel to Stanford Stadium on Saturday, June 27. The Galaxy will host the California Clasico at StubHub Center Friday, July 17 before the third and final matchup will take place at San Jose’s new Avaya Stadium Friday, Aug. 28, with both matches shown live on Univision. The Galaxy are 28-18-12 all-time against their Northern California rivals in regular season matches.
The club’s annual Fourth of July game features a match against Toronto at StubHub Center, marking the 20th consecutive season that the Galaxy will host a game on Independence Day, the longest such stretch in American professional sports.
As the year comes to a close, here’s an opportunity to get caught up on three episodes of HBO’s investigative “Real Sports” that looks at issues surrounding the World Cup and the under-covered issue of global match-fixing:
Event includes speeches by Galaxy President Chris Klein, coach Bruce Arena, captain and MLS MVP Robbie Keane, defender Omar Gonzalez and Landon Donovan, who will say a final goodbye to fans before retiring.
“I’ve said it before, this is my best year on the field, and my worst year off the field personally,” said defender A.J. DeLaGarza. “At the end of the game, you guys saw I just kind of laid there and sobbed a little bit. Obviously, I wish my son was here, so that was all I thought about.”
For the first time since 2009, all three finalists – Robbie Keane of the LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders FC’s Obafemi Martins and the New England Revolution’s Lee Nguyen – took part in the MLS Conference Championships, which concluded last weekend.