461 days after his last match as a professional, Landon Donovan made his return in the 83rd minute of the Club León-Puebla match. León had pretty well dominated the match, and led 2-1 when Donovan was subbed on for Andrés “Rifle: Andrade to thunderous applause by the home crowd.
Former USMNT player @landondonovan makes his debut with @clubleonfc in the final minutes of their match against @ClubPueblaMX— Fut Mex Nation (@FutMexNation) February 11, 2018
The crowd gives him a warm reception as he steps onto the field. #LigaMxEng
#J6 | #LigaMX | #LEOvsPUE@landondonovan en su debut en #ElGlorioso— Club León (@clubleonfc) February 11, 2018
2-1 #CreoEnMiLeón pic.twitter.com/Xp9dgtuA2u
461 days ago, Donovan and the LA Galaxy were eliminated from the Western Conference Semifinals by FC Dallas. Donovan had come out of retirement and was expected to provide a lift to a sagging Galaxy team as they made a push for the MLS Cup.
This time it’s different. Donovan isn’t coming in to save León, although he’s also not being given a token spot on the bench. León needs Donovan in this role - an experienced vet who can come off of the bench and eat minutes while helping the team remain offensively threatening.
Donovan looked decent enough in the few minutes of game time. It was obvious he was rusty, but he didn’t look lost or like he shouldn’t have been out there. He had a couple of decent touches, almost forcing a corner kick at one point save for a touch that pushed the ball out behind goal.
He’ll probably see a lot of late-game minutes like tonight’s as well as time during midweek games. León will head to Torreón on Wednesday to play against Santos Laguna, and it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that he’ll see time there or next Saturday when León hosts Querétaro FC.