Landon Donovan retiring from soccer after the MLS season

(CNN) -- Landon Donovan, the greatest scorer in American soccer history and one of the players who helped raise the profile of the game in the United States, will retire after the MLS season.

The Los Angeles Galaxy star said in a statement on the team's website Thursday, "After spending half my life as a professional soccer player, I also am excited to begin a new chapter and pursue other opportunities that will challenge me and allow me to grow as a person."

Donovan, 32, has netted more goals than any other player in U.S. national team history (57) and is the leading all-time scorer (138) for Major League Soccer.

The exceptionally fast Donovan scored one of the most famous goals in U.S. history, knocking home a stoppage-time shot in the 2010 World Cup to beat Algeria and get the United States out of group play.

Many expected Donovan to be named to the 2014 team and make an appearance in his fourth World Cup, but he was cut by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

"Landon Donovan is one of the most significant figures in the history of soccer in the United States," said L.A. Galaxy coach and former U.S. coach Bruce Arena. "His influence on MLS and soccer in this country will continue to be felt for many years to come.

U.S. goalie Tim Howard tweeted: "It's been an honor."

 

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Donovan has four goals and seven assists this year as a forward for the Galaxy. He also had the game-winning goal for the MLS all-stars in a 2-1 victory Wednesday night against Bayern Munich.

He also played professionally in England and Germany.

He will be remembered most for his moments of brilliance for the Red, White and Blue. Donovan left an indelible mark on the U.S. national team and its history.

Forget all the goals, assists or the hat tricks against Scotland, Ecuador and Cuba (he actually hung four on Cuba).

There are reasons Donovan has earned a sort of cult fame among U.S. soccer's fan base, and fame among America's casual fans.

He's one of the primary reasons fans of archrival Mexico shudder when they hear the chant "dos a cero" (two to zero). The most glorious dos a cero for American fans came when Donovan buried the second goal in the 2002 World Cup round of 16. His first game for the United States was against Mexico in 2000, when he was just 18. He scored.

He was oh so fast and he could beat defenders one on one. If there was a penalty kick for the United States, he would bury it.

He had a knack for well-placed set pieces, taking most of the U.S. free kicks for many years.

"I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have played a role in the remarkable growth of MLS and U.S. Soccer during my playing career," he wrote Thursday. "And while my career as a player will soon be over, rest assured I will stay connected on many levels to the beautiful game."

CNN's Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.

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