June 23 marked six years since former U.S Men’s National Team captain Landon Donovan’s game-winning goal in stoppage time against Algeria catapulted the Americans into the knockout stage of the World Cup in South Africa.
That shining moment was a high point for Donovan, the USMNT’s all-time goals and assists leader, in his 15-year playing career.
“I think with more time, I kind of realize how much more special [the goal] was,” the 34-year-old Donovan told amNewYork on Saturday at a Sprint-sponsored event celebrating Copa America Centenario. “In 2010, if you held an event like this, people wouldn’t show up in this way. I think it’s really special to see how much that moment has meant to people, to companies, to fans, our players and to the growth of soccer in our country.”
The current USMNT saw their stay in the Copa America Centenario come to an end this past Saturday with a 1-0 loss to Colombia. The U.S. finished the tournament in fourth place, beating Costa Rica, Paraguay and Ecuador but falling to Colombia twice and Argentina once.
“[The Americans] have beaten the teams you expect them to beat to continue growing, but you want them to take the next step by beating a Colombia or Argentina,” said Donovan, who retired in 2014. “We’ve done a great job getting better, but we still have a long way to go, and we saw that against Argentina.
“It’s not because we don’t have a [Lionel] Messi – Germany doesn’t have a Messi. If you look at the 10 other players on the field for Argentina, we need more of that.”
While soccer in the United States is not yet at the level of the elite squads in Europe and South America, Donovan assures the U.S will join the ranks among the world’s best in due time.
“We live in a society where we want instant gratification,” Donovan said. “Everyone wants it to be like the Premier League tomorrow, but unfortunately it just takes time, and we have to deal with that.”