Landon Donovan announced Thursday that he will retire from professional soccer at the end of the MLS season, marking the end of a celebrated career in which he became one of "the most significant figures" in U.S. soccer.
The LA Galaxy forward is widely considered the best soccer player in American history. The 32-year-old Donovan is the top goal-scorer in MLS history and a five-time league champion.
"After careful deliberation and many conversations with those closest to me, I have decided that this will be my last year as a professional soccer player," Donovan said in a statement on the Galaxy web site. "It has been more than anything I could have dreamed of to represent the LA Galaxy, the San Jose Earthquakes, Everton, U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer throughout my career."
Donovan was named the most valuable player of his 14th MLS All-Star game on Wednesday night in Portland, scoring a goal in the All-Stars' 2-1 win over Bayern Munich.
Donovan, who was not included on his fourth U.S. World Cup team this summer, agreed to a multiyear contract extension with the Galaxy just a year ago and pronounced himself revitalized after an extended sabbatical. He took several months off after winning the Galaxy's second straight MLS Cup title alongside now-retired David Beckham in December 2012.
Born in Ontario, California, the 32-year-old Donovan joined the Galaxy in 2005 and became a fan favorite, scoring 12 goals and leading the team to an MLS Cup that season. He went on to win two more MLS Cups with the Galaxy, spending time on loan with the German Bundesliga's Bayern Munich and Everton of the English Premier League.
He also played for the MLS San Jose Earthquakes.
In a letter posted on the Galaxy web site, Donovan said he plans to continue "making a difference" during what he called a "transformative time for the sport."
Donovan has a long list of MLS accomplishments, but one of his career moments came at the 2010 FIFA World Cup -- one of three in which he participated -- when he scored a goal in stoppage time against Algeria that sent the United States through to the Round of 16. He has a team-best 57 goals and 58 assists for the U.S. Men's National Team in 156 appearances.
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"Landon Donovan is one of the most significant figures in the history of soccer in the United States," said LA Galaxy Head Coach and General Manager Bruce Arena. "His influence on MLS and soccer in this country will continue to be felt for many years to come. As both a player and a person, Landon has been an incredible representative of the LA Galaxy, MLS and the U.S. Men’s National Team and it has been my honor coaching him."
Donovan's five World Cup goals are the most of any American in the competition.