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Landin' in LA
The Los Angeles Galaxy pulled off a coup last week by acquiring Landon Donovan from Bayer Leverkusen in Germany. This is a superstar signing of epic proportions. Donovan coming to the Galaxy is akin to the Lakers signing Shaq or the Angels signing Vlad Guerrero. Donovan might the best American soccer player, having led Team USA to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup, and single-handedly led the San Jose Earthquakes to two MLS Cup titles. At 23, the best is yet to come.
The signing gives the Galaxy a nice leg up on rival Chivas USA, LA's other MLS team (yes, we have two MLS teams now), who opened to a disappointing crowd in a 2-1 loss to DC United on Saturday.
Donovan's return to the United States is even bigger news for US Soccer. For years, US Soccer has faced a catch-22. American soccer will never be great if it doesn't develop a strong national league. However, the national team will never be great if it's players don't compete against the toughest competition. Donovan, though, is unique. A Redlands native, the California boy just didn't feel comfortable in the depressing industrial German town of Leverkusen. Now he wants to stay home, and help develop a unique American style of play, which started to show promise at the 2002 World Cup.
"This is where I need to be. This is where I play best. This is the style I play best in. It's obvious that I need to be here, period,' Donovan said. "When I look back one day, when I leave a legacy, I want to be remembered as someone who helped get this sport to the next level [in the US]... I don't need to be in Europe. I don't need to be anywhere but here. This is the future of soccer in this country."
MLS now has its first real superstar. And he's playing right here in LA.