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The raucous home crowd had finally departed. All that was left of the celebration was the ticker tape on the green grass and as the writers in the press box hurriedly typed away their prognosis on the 19th MLS Cup, one player celebrated with his close family and friends knowing he had just played his final game. This was not a difficult game to sell. Landon Donovan had been the preview of the showpiece event in the Major League Soccer calendar. Four months to the day after he announced his upcoming retirement, he found himself back home on the pitch in Carson, California for one last match. He had spent all week saying he did not want it to end and, temporarily, he got his wish when New England scored a deserved equalizer eleven minutes from time to extend the game into another 30 minutes. The Revolution had spent the week as an afterthought to many, almost as a team that had been asked to show up to be shown up by Donovan and his mates on the biggest of all stages in the North American game. Yet, sport can be so wonderfully poetic deciding itself just how the story would be played out. This was not to be a match where Donovan would score in a game dominated by the Galaxy. When they took the lead it appeared the script was all too predictable. A poor game littered by mistakes from both teams sprung into life six minutes into the second half when homegrown hero Gyasi Zardes powered LA into the lead. It was a lead they scarcely deserved, but New England were certainly no victims either. Right back Andrew Farrell had a torrid day and, after getting a tactics lesson from Donovan in the first half, he got a physical lesson from Zardes on the goal, bullied to the ground as the forward slotted home. Expectedly, the home crowd went crazy. For some it was likely the first time they had seen the Galaxy score a goal in person but finals throughout the world welcome bandwagon jumpers and this was surely no different. In many ways it made it even easier for thousands of MLS fans not at the game to root against the powerhouse. When Donovan lost sight of the ball in the sun closely before the half-time whistle the fans booed referee Mark Geiger for issuing a yellow card to the hero of the hour. The camera cut to Galaxy boss Bruce Arena who was caught screaming a four-word sentence that featured two swear words and an animal known as a bull. His words were echoed across North America only this time everyone else was shouting the words at the Galaxy, not in favour of them. The Galaxy can bring out many negative emotions from MLS fans. A team that somehow finds a way to fit in three enormous designated players as well as Juninho in midfield should beat New England at home and in the end thats what they did. An hour after conceding the equalizer they were together for the last time lifting their third MLS Cup in the last four years. A game that drifted along in third gear in terms of tempo and quality finally accelerated into top speed with one moment of brilliance when league MVP Robbie Keane was left onside and scored the winner in a trademark one-on-one situation. The Irishman had had a poor game, moaning at officials and teammates, but in a matter of five seconds he had secured the games MVP honour. As the ball rolled across the line and into the net, Keane cartwheeled his way to the corner where his goal was sealed by a kiss from Donovan. This time the American icon, the architect of so many magnificent moments throughout his own career, had to rely on someone else to deliver him a championship. There are games that you play when you are not at your best and we were not at out best today but in those moments you have to find a way to stay in it and wait for the play we needed and we made it, Donovan said afterwards. The 32-year-old hadnt been the best player on the field but he again had made a case for being the smartest. Starting on the left he had terrorized Farrell with his inside runs and regularly punched large holes inside the channels of New Englands back four. In the second half, playing centrally just off Keane with Zardes on the left, he gave a clinic in versatility and his movement alone would regularly change LAs shape from a 4-4-1-1 to a 4-2-3-1 and then a 4-4-2. Fifty seconds before Zardes scored, he sprinted from a deep position and got behind the impressive Scott Caldwell to reach the six yard box unmarked. Not bad for a man who thinks his legs are going. Later in the half he found acres of space between the lines before playing Keane through in a one-on-one situation. Keane looked inches offside and the New England defence all put their hands up and gave up on the play. Donovan recognized this immediately after playing the pass and ran in behind Keane knowing if the Irishman didnt touch it he would be able to take it in all alone. No one else realize that, including Keane, who touched the ball and then took another verbal swipe at the official for doing his job. Donovan shouted at Keane instead. It was those kind of moments, of which there are so many with Donovan, that gave non-LA fans a deep battle between heart and mind. Winners are so often despised and this team is no different but with Donovan in it you cant help but respect them. Thats the difference his footballing intelligence made. There has never been another American player like him. Here he was on his final game still out-thinking everyone else. Donovans legacy will be about magical goals for club and country, his loyalty to MLS and his reward coming in the form of six championships but he was far more than just that. Commissioner Don Garber likes to use the term league of choice and he used it again on this day when thanking Donovan for his tenure in the league. He had used it in the past, and will do so again, particularly towards other American star players now playing here such as Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley. However, no matter what these, and others, go on to achieve there will never be another Donovan. The best American players now excel in a fast pace environment where they can show their great athleticism, but Donovan was a footballer who glided through a game and was equally brilliant without the ball than he was with it. As he hangs up his professional boots for the final time it is certainly worth contemplating whether the forever-evolving MLS has reached its peak. There are many ways to spin success and the league is certainly still growing in other areas and will continue to blossom towards a viable 24 team league very soon, but on this day its trophy was won by its very own New York Yankees and its Derek Jeter lifted it in his final match. In a salary cap era in sports there is something refreshing, and valuable, about a dynasty being created and all of the bitterness that follows them. Yet, without Donovan, this Galaxy team is simply a giant in the league without a true face to the casual fan. Garber told ESPN at half-time that he is confident the void will be filled. There will always be guys who leave and be replaced by young players and at some point well be talking about some other great player who is retiring after 14 years, Maybe. The game has never been so popular in the United States yet they remain some way off from producing their first genuine world-class star. Donovan is easily the closest they have come to that. 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