United States soccer legend Landon Donovan is set to come out of retirement for the second time to join Mexican club Leon, both the team and player said on Friday night.
Leon president Jesus Martinez confirmed in a phone interview with FOX Deportes Mexico that Donovan, 35, has signed a one-year deal to play with his team in Liga MX.
Donovan retired from the LA Galaxy after winning the MLS Cup in 2014, only to come out of retirement and play for the club again in 2016, but he has not played in the last 14 months, outside of a charity game in December.
Donovan has reportedly spent the past three days in Leon, raising speculation that he might join the club. Martinez called him a “great friend” on Wednesday, though he did not suggest a possible signing was on the cards.
But in a Twitter exchange with Martinez on Friday, Donovan wrote in Spanish: “I loved the city. You have the best fans. @clubleonfc is a historic and winning team. I do not believe in walls, I want to go to Mexico, wear green and win trophies with Leon. See you soon!”
Presidente: me encantó la Ciudad. Es la mejor afición. @clubleonfc es un equipo histórico y ganador. No creo en los muros, quiero ir a México, vestirme de verde y ganar trofeos con León. Nos vemos muy pronto! https://t.co/Xqm4jX2hW7
— Landon Donovan (@landondonovan) January 13, 2018
Martinez responded: “I knew it, you always wanted to use green. Welcome to #LaFiera! You are already a player of @clubleonfc.”
The club then posted the following image to their official account:
— Club León (@clubleonfc) January 13, 2018
The unexpected news comes two days after Leon’s social media accounts joked about signing Donovan, only to later reveal it as a marketing ploy to unveil their third kit.
Donovan, who is the joint all-time leading scorer with Clint Dempsey on the U.S. national team, won six MLS Cups over the course of his career in Major League Soccer — two with the San Jose Earthquakes and four with the Galaxy.
Donovan has done broadcast work since retiring and was rumored to be considering a run for U.S. Soccer Federation president, but announced in November that he would not seek the position.
Leon is in fifth place in Liga MX after one game at the start of the 2018 Clausura. As of now there is no timeline for when Donovan will begin to train or play with the team, but he told his former U.S. teammate Omar Gonzalez on Twitter that he looked forward to facing his Pachuca side on Feb. 24.
Donovan is the third player signed by Leon for the Clausura along with Argentine Emanuel Cecchini and Jamaican Giles Barnes.
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