Soon-to-retire LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan ensured Sunday’s Western Conference semi-final decider against Real Salt Lake wouldn’t be his final farewell in outstanding fashion.
After a 0-0 stalemate in the first-leg, a defeat or score draw at the StubHub Center would have ended LA’s quest for a third MLS Cup title in four seasons and brought the curtain down on Donovan’s spectacular career.
The US international legend made sure there was no danger of that, however, netting a sensational hat-trick and setting up a Robbie Keane goal to help seal his side a place in the Championship series with an emphatic 5-0 win.
“Last night and today I was thinking a lot of this through, and the reality is this could have been the last game ever,” Donovan told the club's official website after the match.
“There's a lot of things that were out of my control tonight. The one thing that was in my control was how I played, so I wanted to make sure that when I went home tonight and I looked in the mirror, that I knew I gave regardless of the result.
“And, fortunately, the team played well, too, and that made for a very fun night.”
Left-back Robbie Rogers added: “He was amazing. It's pretty spectacular that a player of that quality can have a game like that.
“He has one or two games where he doesn't score a goal, and people think, 'Oh, he's not doing what he's supposed to be doing.'
“It's, like, just relax. Landon is Landon.”
Having announced that he will hang up his boots at the end of the 2014 campaign, Donovan has been in remarkable form during his farewell tour, recording seven goals and 15 assists over the second-half of the regular-season, while becoming the league’s all-time leader in both categories.
Bidding now to add a record-breaking sixth MLS Cup to his collection to go out on, some are calling for the ex-Everton loanee to reverse his retirement decision given his current form, but Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena insists the time is right for him to step away from the game.
“I think it’s the right time for him to retire. He’s ready to go," he said. “He’s given it everything he has. He wants to finish this year on a high note and then get on with other things in his life.”
Judging by the weekend’s performance, Donovan is certainly doing just that.