Soon-to-be Tottenham Hotspur right-back DeAndre Yedlin has hailed US teammate Landon Donovan as a huge inspiration growing up, ahead of the LA Galaxy forward’s final national team appearance in Friday’s farewell match against Ecuador in Hartford, Connecticut.
Having announced that he will retire from all forms of the game at the end of the 2014 MLS season, the three-time World Cup veteran is set to captain the side for the first 30 minutes, before bringing down the curtain on a career which has produced a record 57 goals and 58 assists in 156 appearances since his first cap in October 2000.
Yedlin’s career, meanwhile, is just taking off, having gone from the college level to a two-time All-Star and World Cup standout after just one full professional season with the Seattle Sounders, before sealing a £2.5 million future move to Spurs in August.
Breaking into the national team at the start of 2014, the seven-time capped defender has had few opportunities to feature alongside Donovan since, after his idol’s controversial omission from Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup squad, but has stressed just how influential his exploits have been to his own career.
‘I think he’s been pretty inspirational to me. He was 20 years old, doing amazing things and competing on the highest level,’ he told MLSsoccer.com.
‘As a kid, he was somebody whose footsteps I tried to follow to make it to this stage. He was a huge inspiration for me and I know a lot of my friends and fellow professionals, so to be able to play here for his last game is going to be amazing.’
Aged 32, the farewell match is set to be Donovan’s first for the US since being left out of the squad for Brazil, but he has been in fine form in MLS in the meantime, setting both the all-time goal and assist records, while helping Bruce Arena’s side to joint-top of the Supporters’ Shield standings with three games left before the post-season.
Bidding to win a sixth and final MLS Cup to go out with, he will have to compete with Yedlin for the honour, however, with the Sounders looking like LA’s main rivals for silverware over the coming months.