This is a story I’m hesitant to comment on because I think MLS commissioner Don Garber might be saying what he has to say (realistic or not), but the MLS reaffirmed their intentions to keep Donovan stateside on Thursday.
While acknowledging that I don’t foresee any possible way Donovan leaves before the end of this season (which I’m fine with), I think that it is incredibly short-sighted by the league to try to hang on to Donovan if he wants to play elsewhere. Donovan has done far too much for the league and the sport in America to be pigeonholed in a deal that will likely not make him a better player in the long run. Hell, staying in the MLS may even hurt him long term, I think it’s hard to argue Sacha Klejstan’s form did anything other than regress at the start of this season.
On top of that, considering how important Donovan is to U.S. Soccer, what does he stand to gain playing inferior competition on a weekly basis? If the league hopes to piggyback on the support for the men’s national team now and in the future, it’s imperative for them to let players continue through to the world’s top leagues and competition once they’ve proven themselves domestically.
That said, let’s say the Galaxy win the MLS Cup this year, which is certainly a strong possibility. I don’t know how the league would be able to avoid an inevitable call by most MLS fans,who overwhelmingly supported Donovan’s run at Everton, to let Donovan go to Europe full time. If Donovan wants to go, that call may even get louder, and I’m not so sure it would be feasible from a public relations perspective to keep the American on home soil.