CARSON, Calif. -- There was no shortage of praise for Landon Donovan from his Los Angeles Galaxy teammates as their longtime No. 10 helped his squad beat the New England Revolution 2-1 in extra time in the MLS Cup finals.
Gyasi Zardes, Robbie Rogers, Dan Gargan and A.J. DeLaGarza all spoke glowingly after the game about Donovan's influence on them as players and the effect he's had on the Galaxy and U.S. soccer as a whole.
Zardes, who opened the scoring for L.A. in the second half with an opportunistic goal from close range, remembers watching Donovan while growing up in the Los Angeles area.
"It's amazing, I used to look up to him as a kid and I still do," Zardes said. "It's amazing he gets to retire as a champion. He's always been a mentor and I can truly say I really love Landon."
The Galaxy were a little more than 10 minutes away from closing out the Revs in regular time, until a Chris Tierney goal in the 79th minute leveled the score and ultimately forced extra time.
That bought DeLaGarza and his teammates an extra 30 minutes of playing time with Donovan, like it or not.
"I remember looking up [at the clock] at the 80-minute mark and hoping it ended at 90," DeLaGarza said. "But we had to go an extra 30 and we got the job done.
"After all [Landon] has done for everyone in this country, for soccer, there is no way better way to send him off than like this."
Rogers remembers Donovan for helping him get his MLS career on track and always supporting him as a player on and off the field. That makes the storybook ending for Donovan that much sweeter for himself and the team, Rogers said.
"We all wanted to give him that little extra thing to end with," Rogers said. "We all respect him so much and I'm so happy he can leave the Galaxy with his head held extremely high and with that extra little bit of silverware."
For all the accolades and credit that teammates gave Donovan for his influence on the field, Galaxy defender Gargan also made special mention of the influence he's had on him in daily life as a professional athlete.
"I've been playing against Landon for years and we all know he's a supreme competitor and that he battles all the time," Gargan said. "But what I'm most impressed with is his preparation, everything he does from Monday at 8 a.m. until Sunday at 10 at night.
"His focus is to be a champion. A lot of people don't understand the nuances of being a professional athlete and he really epitomises it. To see him live that life for as long as he has and to be witness to that for the last year, I feel like a lucky guy."