Landon Donovan took his ball, and his trophy, and went home. Forever.
In the 111th minute of a sloppy, grind-it-out Major League Soccer Cup final on Sunday, MLS MVP Robbie Keane slotted home the cup-winning goal for the LA Galaxy, who defeated the New England Revolution 2-1 in extra time, earning the Los Angeles franchise its record fifth league title.
A jubilant home crowd unfurled its banners and tributes, celebrating another title with the class franchise in MLS, with the class player of a generation.
“Party at Donovan’s,” one banner read.
Keane’s extra-time goal did more than just win another cup for the Galaxy and send Donovan off into the sunset a six-time champion. The goal – and the win, the cup and all the celebration that comes with winning another title – signified the end of an MLS era.
“This is incredible. When you look around and you see this it’s amazing,” Donovan said. “There is lots of excitement around this league. I’m glad to have been a part of it. This is just the end of the playing part. I’ll still be around.”
The timing seems more than coincidental that MLS will begin its 20th season – the first without Donovan in a decade and a half – by rebranding itself with a new logo, by expanding into Orlando and New York City, with more expansion plans two years down the line, and by signing a new television deal.