Landon Donovan, the most decorated player in MLS history, has reached an… (Darryl Dyck / Canadian Press )
The Galaxy has scheduled a news conference Wednesday to announce that it has reached agreement with forward Landon Donovan on a multiyear contract that will probably keep him in Major League Soccer for the rest of his career.
The deal is the club's most significant since the 2007 signing of former English national team captain David Beckham, whose decision to play in the U.S. transformed the league and the Galaxy. The signing of the 31-year-old Donovan, meanwhile, keeps the most decorated player in MLS history at home despite reports he received numerous offers from clubs in Europe and Latin America.
Donovan's deal comes less than two weeks after the Galaxy locked up defender Omar Gonzalez with a multiyear contract, and less than a month after the Seattle Sounders lured forward Clint Dempsey back from England with a contract that will pay him more than $5 million a year over the next four seasons. That's the fourth-highest guaranteed salary in MLS history.
Terms of Donovan's new deal were not disclosed, but it is likely to include a base salary comparable to what the Sounders are paying Dempsey.
Donovan's decision to follow Gonzalez and Dempsey in making an extended commitment to the league is a huge victory for MLS Commissioner Don Garber and his effort to keep the top U.S. players at home. All three signed as designated players, a tag that allows teams to negotiate up to three contracts that exceed the league's salary cap. Before this season, just three of the 31 players signed to designated-player contracts, including Donovan, were U.S.-born.
But in the last seven months, MLS teams have signed four Americans to designated-player deals, while others -- such as U.S. national team defender Clarence Goodson (San Jose), former national team captain Carlos Bocanegra (Chivas USA) and former national team midfielder Robbie Rogers (Galaxy) -- left teams in Europe to sign lesser deals with MLS clubs.
Donovan's current four-year, $10-million contract with the Galaxy is scheduled to expire this fall. Galaxy President Chris Klein said that reaching a new deal with Donovan was a high priority.
After winning a record-tying fifth MLS title last December, Donovan, citing exhaustion, took a three-month sabbatical during which he spent time with family and toured Cambodia.
However, by going AWOL on the eve of the final round of World Cup qualifying, Donovan forfeited his place on the U.S. national team and was forced to give up the captain's armband with the Galaxy.
He returned to the Galaxy in March and started slowly, with just three goals and three assists in his first 12 matches.
But he caught fire last month after being named to a U.S. national "B" team for the Gold Cup. In seven games, all victories, Donovan had seven goals and seven assists to lead the U.S. to its first Gold Cup title since 2007. That also extended his U.S. national team records to 56 goals and 56 assists in 151 caps, solidifying his claim as the best player in U.S. soccer history.
He's also scored four times in his last three matches with the Galaxy, lifting the two-time defending league champions to second place in the Western Conference standings.
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Top of the charts
Landon Donovan, who has agreed to a multiyear contract that will keep him with the Galaxy, is at or near the top of the goal-scoring and assists tables for both MLS and the U.S. national team:
*--* MLS GOAL LEADERS 1. Jeff Cunningham 1998-2011 134 2. Jaime Moreno 1996-2010 133 3. Landon Donovan 2001-13 131 4. Ante Razov 1996-2009 114 5. Jason Kreis 1996-2007 108 MLS ASSIST LEADERS 1. Steve Ralston 1996-2010 135 2. Landon Donovan 2001-13 115 3. Carlos Valderrama 1996-2002 114 4. Preki 1996-2005 112 5. Jaime Moreno 1996-2010 102 U.S. GOAL LEADERS 1. Landon Donovan 2000-13 56 2. Clint Dempsey 2004-13 35 3. Eric Wynalda 1990-2000 34 4. Brian McBride 1993-2006 30 5. Joe-Max Moore 1992-2002 24 U.S. ASSIST LEADERS 1. Landon Donovan 2000-13 56 2. Cobi Jones 1992-2004 22 3. Claudio Reyna 1994-2006 19 4. Eddie Lewis 1996-2008 16 4. Eric Wynalda 1990-2000 16 *--*