It only seems to some that the San Jose Earthquakes will in a sense cease to exist in the absence of their best player, Landon Donovan, as the attacker leaves California for Bayer Leverkusen at the end of a four-year loan
Obviously in the end, the Earthquakes are in a way disappointed in the decision made by Donovan to return to Germany. But the club is highly understanding that it is a part of the evolution of the U.S. international.
“This is a sad day for me as a head coach,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear, “but as a friend and a true fan of the game, I look forward to seeing him play for Leverkusen. He definitely will be missed in San Jose, because of the talent he brought and the humbleness he showed off the field. All I can say is I have a great amount of respect and admiration for him.”
Now the hunt for a replacement starts in earnest. An allocation has been given to the Earthquakes with Donovan departing, and the team not only needs to fill in the absence on the field, but Donovan’s presence off the field with the club’s future highly in flux.
“It will be hard to find someone to fill the shoes of a player who has contributed so much to the success of the Earthquakes,” said general manager Alexi Lalas. “But we wish Landon nothing but the best in Germany and look forward to watching him develop.”
Kinnear mentioned the chance that if Clint Mathis did return from Germany that the Earthquakes would be interested in acquiring him via the allocation mentioned before. But Real Salt Lake is ahead of the Earthquakes in the figurative allocation pecking order, and likely would receive Mathis instead of San Jose.
And there’s always the chance Donovan could return as soon as this summer’s transfer window if things go wrong. San Jose loses the rights to Donovan if they use the allocation, and Donovan is under contract with Leverkusen through the summer of 2007. However, Donovan mentioned that the league remains in his thoughts, and clearly in his future.
“I assure everyone that MLS is absolutely in my future at some point. I just don’t know when.”
Original Article written by Aris Ohanessian