Landon Donovan is back.
The LA Galaxy released a video on Thursday confirming Donovan’s return to the team, less than two years after his celebrated retirement from the league following the 2014 season. Donovan himself, who will wear No. 26 in honor of his son's birthday (Jan. 26) and his first number at Bayer Leverkusen, posted an explanation to his Facebook page.
Two weeks ago, I was working as an analyst on the LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps match and during that game, the Galaxy suffered injuries to three players: Jelle Van Damme, Steven Gerrard and Gyasi Zardes. Over the next few days, Nigel De Jong was transferred to Galatasaray and news broke that Gyasi would be out for the rest of the season. Since my retirement, I have remained in close contact with many of the staff and players on the Galaxy. I spoke with some of them that week and they jokingly asked if I was ready to make a return to the field to help fill some of the void left by the injuries and departures. I reminded them that I haven’t played a meaningful soccer game in almost two years and I certainly couldn’t fill the holes left by those players.
I then had a candid conversation with Bruce Arena and we began down the path of deciding whether this made sense. We both agreed that if this was going to happen, the expectations would be minimal and he would use me in situations that made sense for the team. I’ve spent a lot of time speaking with my family and close friends over the past several days, and we all agreed that this would be a wonderful opportunity and a win-win situation for everyone.
Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reported the signing earlier on Thursday. The league’s roster freeze goes into effect on Sept. 15, meaning the Galaxy still have time to add Donovan to the roster for the remainder of the season.
Donovan, 34, had two goals and eight assists against the Sounders in his career. Donovan is the all-time leading goalscorer in Galaxy and United States national team history. He spent his entire 14-year career in MLS, the first four with the San Jose Earthquakes and the last 10 in L.A.
The Galaxy, who are currently tied for second place in the Western Conference, play on Saturday against Orlando CIty SC. LA's match against the Sounders on Sept. 25 is scheduled for 1 p.m. PT on ESPN.