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Landon Donovan's Career With U.S. Men's National Team Ends in Connecticut

Update at 8:10pm.

As Landon Donovan admitted during a halftime interview, he did everything but score tonight. He had several chances but couldn't find the back of the net. He was taken out in the 41st minute, which was 11 minutes longer than he planned to play.

As expected, Donovan received a rowdy ovation from the mostly packed crowd. The second-half is now underway but there are still fans trickling through the gates.

The USA still leads 1-0 and now that the Landon era is over, they can start the march to the 2018 World Cup in earnest.

Update at 7:12pm.

A lot of fans missed the first goal of the match. Cars are still streaming into the Rentschler Field parking lot and Mix Diskerud already scored. 1-0, U.S. leads.

Update at 6:45pm.

Landon Donovan is one of two starting forwards in his last match with the U.S. Men's National Team. He only plans to play in the first 30 minutes to be rested enough to play with his professional team, the L.A. Galaxy on Sunday.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:03pm and is broadcast live on ESPN. Officials said fans can expect numerous tributes to Donovan before, during and after the match.

Original post below:

After being cut from the United States World Cup roster this summer, soccer star Landon Donovan will play one last match with the national team Friday night in East Hartford, Connecticut. He played for Team U.S.A. in three World Cups and is the program's all-time leading scorer with 57 goals and 58 assists in his career.

The squad practiced in Boston this week to prepare for the friendly match against Ecuador. During a press conference on Tuesday, head coach Jürgen Klinsmann said Donovan would lead the team for the first 30 minutes.

The relationship between the coach and star has been contentious recently, culminating in Klinsmann cutting Donovan from the 2014 World Cup roster. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Donovan said the idea to play one last time with the national team came from U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati:

“Obviously, this summer didn’t leave the best taste in my mouth with everything that happened. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized this was something that I think would be really special, not only for me to feel and receive, but also my opportunity to say thank you. I’ve met so many people here in L.A. that have said, 'We’ve booked our flight, we got our tickets, we’re going to Hartford to say goodbye to you.' For me that makes it special.”

Klinsmann told reporters Thursday that he doesn't regret the decision he made to cut Donovan. "I wished in a certain way, 'I could have done a bit more here and a bit more there.' But he had a tremendous career and he deserves that farewell," he said.

Credit Tucker Ives / WNPR
Head coach of the U.S. Men's National Team Jürgen Klinsmann speaks to reporters at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, CT.

During the 2014 World Cup, Donovan stayed in California, where he plays for the L.A. Galaxy, and he appeared on ESPN's television coverage of the tournament for analysis. On Friday, Donovan will hold a pre-match press conference at ESPN's headquarters in Bristol.

The Hartford/New Haven television market had the second highest ratings in the country for the final U.S. match in the World Cup.

Donovan announced in August that he would retire from professional soccer after the 2014 season. The L.A. Galaxy plays Sunday night in Dallas, which may be why he is only expected to play for 30 minutes on Friday.

Watch below one of the many tribute videos produced by U.S. Soccer commemorating Landon Donovan:

Friday night's match will be televised live at 7:00 pm ET on ESPN.

Tucker Ives is WNPR's morning news producer.

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