MLS names MVP award after U.S. legend Landon Donovan

Major League Soccer on Thursday named its MVP award after American soccer legend Landon Donovan, who retired in December after 14 MLS seasons.

MLS commissioner Don Garber announced the decision before the MLS draft, calling Donovan's decision to join the league in 2001 "one of the most important milestones in our history."

"As a child, soccer was merely an outlet for me -- a way to express myself," Donovan said. "To have this prestigious award named after me is truly unimaginable. Thank you to Commissioner Garber, Major League Soccer and all of the people that have supported me along the way. I am extremely humbled by and proud of this honor."

Donovan won his sole MVP in 2009. He was also an MVP finalist in 2008. He is the league's career leader in goals (144), assists (136) and MLS titles (six).

In international appearances by Americans, Donovan, with 157, trails only Cobi Jones (164). His 57 goals are well ahead of second-place Clint Dempsey (39), and his 58 assists are more than double the total of Jones, who is second with 22.

Donovan burst into the spotlight at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship, when the U.S. finished fourth and he won the Golden Ball as top player. He made the roster for the 2000 Sydney Olympics and, with his hair dyed blond, scored against Mexico in his national team debut at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Oct. 25, 2000.

Since 1996, the MLS MVP award has been presented annually to the individual deemed most valuable to his club by players, management and the media.

The only two-time MLS MVP is Preki, with the then-Kansas City Wizards in 1997 and 2003.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.