Landon Donovan Can’t Stop Playing Soccer

Landon Donovan played in eight matches for Club León last season.
Landon Donovan played in eight matches for Club León last season.
Photo: Hector Vivas (Getty)

Landon Donovan’s latest attempt to retire from soccer is apparently over. Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl reports that Donovan will join the San Diego Sockers of the Major Arena Soccer League.


As successful as he has been as a player, this is the third time Donovan has failed to retire from soccer. What gives? A brief timeline:

  • On April 7, 2014, multiple outlets reported Donovan would retire at the end of the season. The Los Angeles Galaxy, Donovan’s longtime club, ended the season with a 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution on December 7.
  • Donovan announced he would un-retire and re-join the Galaxy on September 8, 2016. Length of retirement: 640 days.
  • On December 6, 2016, the Los Angeles Galaxy announced Donovan had retired again. Length of un-retirement: 90 days.
  • Last year on January 13, Liga MX’s Club León announced it had signed Donovan for the 2018 season. Length of retirement: 403 days.
  • Donovan played in just eight matches for León, but did score the winning goal in a friendly against his former club, the San Jose Earthquakes. León announced an agreement on the end of his contract on June 17. Length of un-retirement: 155 days.
  • Today, SI got the scoop that he’s joining the Sockers, with an official announcement to follow tomorrow. Length of retirement: 220 days, or 221 if you give it till tomorrow.
  • For good measure, Donovan played his last game for the United States men’s national team in November 2014, but said in September 2016 he’d be willing to suit up again if it would help the squad out.

Donovan’s retirements are getting shorter, but his un-retirements are getting longer. At this rate, he’ll spend a season and a half with the Sockers before retiring, then un-retiring a few months later for to play striker for… um, let’s say, VVV-Venlo.

The man just cannot stay retired. He recently attempted to bring an MLS team to San Diego, but his group’s stadium bid was roundly defeated in the election last year. “I can’t speak for our owners, but I think it would be devastating for this city to not have a Major League Soccer team,” Donovan told

Perhaps the city can cry its MLS tears into an indoor soccer arena. The Major Arena Soccer League, you will be happy to learn, has 16 teams. One of them, the Harrisburg Heat, literally plays at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. Another is called Utica City FC; they were the Syracuse Silver Knights before this season. And, oh yes, longtime indoor soccer fans: The Milwaukee Wave are in this league, too.

Unfortunately, you won’t get to see Donovan play at the farm show. Teams play 22 games a year, but only play teams in their own conference. And here’s something that seems unfair: The Sockers are 10-1 and in first place in the league. And now they get to add Landon Donovan?! I know people are eager to end the Baltimore Blast’s three-year reign as MASL champions, but a little competitive balance would be nice.

Staff editor, Deadspin