New England Soccer Today

The End of an Era

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Landon Donovan came within inches of scoring in his final cap as the U.S. Men’s National Team settled for a 1-1 draw against Ecuador at Rentschler Field in Hartford, Ct.

Donovan, who was left off the squad that represented the U.S. at the 2014 World Cup, wore the captain’s armband and grabbed a backheel from Jozy Altidore inside the box before he fired a shot that that smacked off the far post in the 25th minute.

The 32-year-old midfielder factored into the lone U.S. goal, though, when he was part of a build up in the fifth minute in which Mix Diskerud scored. He exited in the 41st minute to a rousing ovation from the 36,265 supporters, who showered him with chants of “Thank you, Landon.”

The U.S. came within three minutes of pocketing the win – that is until Enner Valencia blasted a shot from outside the box that left Brad Guzan frozen on his line in the 87th minute.

Donovan, who earned his first cap in 2000, finished his National Team career as the all-time leader in goals (57) and assists (58). His 157 caps are second only to Cobi Jones’ 164, and he appeared in three World Cups.

While Donovan was the main attraction, Diskerud stole some of the cheers inside of five minutes. From the right channel, Donovan crossed it for Altidore, who then tapped it to DeAndre Yedlin. With no room for a shot, Yedlin found Diskerud near the spot, where the midfielder pounded it into the back of the net.

Altidore nearly doubled the lead when he latched onto a pass from Yedlin, shook off his defender, and drove a low shot that skipped by the near post in the 17th minute.

Joe Gyau, one of the U.S.’s most promising young prospects, was forced to leave with a left knee sprain around the 20th minute. He was replaced by Bobby Wood, who collected his second cap in the process.

The stage was set for a memorable moment midway through the first half when Donovan ran onto backheel from Altidore and had only Máximo Banguera to beat. But Donovan’s shot failed to cooperate as it slammed off the post, and despite his best efforts, couldn’t grab hold of the rebound.

On the other end of the pitch, Guzan was called upon to make a couple of heady saves in the latter stages of the first half after Ecuador exploited holes in the U.S.’s young defense.

In the 41st minute, Donovan, who was originally slotted for 30 minutes of action, was congratulated by teammates as he walked off the pitch in a U.S. kit for the final time after seeing his #10 in red on the fourth official’s board. A green #15 signaled Joe Corona’s entrance.

Diskerud’s goal would have given the U.S. a win in Donovan’s finale if not for a remarkable effort from Valencia, who uncorked a dipping long-range shot that dropped into the back of the net in the 87th minute.

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