LA Galaxy fans pay tribue to Landon Donovan on an emotional night at StubHub Center

27,244 fans witnessed Landon Donovan’s last regular season home game

CARSON, Calif. – There was a notable air of disappointment in a sellout crowd of 27,244 that attended the LA Galaxy’s 2-2 tie with the Seattle Sounders on Sunday at StubHub Center.

The Galaxy were left frustrated after squandering a 2-0 lead in their quest for the Supporters’ Shield, which goes to the team with the best overall record in MLS. They are tied with the Sounders at 61 points entering Saturday’s rematch at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field.

But fans also were upset in knowing Landon Donovan played his final regular season home game. The 32-year-old, in his 14th season in Major League Soccer, announced his retirement on Aug. 7 and the Galaxy’s faithful continue to have a difficult time accepting his stunning decision.

But in some ways they understand it, too.

“I think it’s bittersweet because you feel like he’s definitely got more in him if he wanted to keep going,” said Eastvale’s Chris Sapp, who was at the game with his wife Dyanna and three-month-old son who happens to be named Donovan. “But it’s also important that if you’re not feeling it anymore that you can hang it up while you’re still on top rather than see it fade away and stay around for too long.

“I think he could have played another year or two, but it’s his decision and if he’s ready to go and he’s happy with that, that’s most important.”

His wife, Dyanna, said Donovan’s presence is why she became a fan of the sport. It’s also among the reasons she and her husband are in their third year as season ticket holders.

“It’s going to be different coming to StubHub Center and not seeing him,” she said. “He’s done enormous amounts for soccer and we’re more than happy to be here and experience this. But at the same time it’s the ending of an area.

“It’s sad to see him go.”

San Pedro’s Sebasten Kessel, a native of Argentina, wondered why Donovan chose not to stick around for at least another season.

“He’s a young guy. He could play for a couple more years,” he said. “But he’s leaving on his own. He’s not waiting until he’s too old. Hopefully we can send him off with a championship in a few weeks.”

Diamond Bar’s Sandra Lopez, who attended the game with her children and was wearing a U.S. national team shirt, said it’s “very sad” Donovan is on the verge of ending his Galaxy career. His next appearance at StubHub Center will be the second leg of the Western Conference semifinals on Nov. 9.

“We’re going to miss him. He’s an inspiration for my son (Michael), who’s a soccer player,” she said. “He’s his idol.”

San Marcos’ Eric Shepard, at the game with parents and members of the San Elijo Hills Matrix girls youth soccer club, said he was happy to get a chance to help give Donovan a proper send-off. The Galaxy even arranged for Donovan’s favorite musical group, Boyz II Men, to sing the national anthem and presented him with a huge painting featuring his likeness.

“I’m very disappointed he’s going to leave,” Shepard said, “but (former San Diego Padres standout) Tony Gwynn had to leave at some point.

“You never want to see him retire, but everybody has to. I wish him well and hope he does well in his next endeavor.”

Another San Marcos resident, Brittney Fenster, also wished him well but with decidedly mixed emotions.

“I’ve been a fan for a long time,” she said. “I was watching highlights of him just the other day.”

Lopez said the size of Sunday’s crowd provided a fitting tribute to Donovan’s impact on the team and the sport in general.

“Everybody wants to say goodbye and thank him,” she said. “They want to show him the respect for his career he deserves.”

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