As Landon Donovan and his Galaxy teammates paraded past the south grandstands toward the field before their game at StubHub Center, Donovan raised his left arm and touched the hands of fans leaning down from the front row.
In that section, and elsewhere among the 19,719 who came to see the Galaxy play the San Jose Earthquakes on Friday night, many fans wore white souvenir Galaxy jerseys with the blue "Donovan" and his number 10 stitched on the back.
They knew that as Donovan took the field in his fluorescent-green cleats, he was taking the first steps toward the end of his legendary career.
The 32-year-old forward, widely viewed as the best American soccer player in history, announced Thursday that he would retire after this, his 14th Major League Soccer season.
Donovan first hopes to win his fourth MLS championship with the Galaxy and his sixth overall. His first two came when he played for San Jose from 2001 to '04.
On Friday night, the Earthquakes tried to throw cold water on the warm feelings surrounding Donovan — who made his 300th MLS start — but twice the Galaxy came from behind and the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
"It's been a pretty taxing week," Donovan said, referring to his retirement announcement. "I felt a lack of preparation [for the game]. I hope I just have some time now to chill out a little bit and get away, and this will be the last time I talk about any of this stuff so I can just focus on soccer."
During the game, he said, "I felt energized but I wasn't sharp."
Neither was the Galaxy initially, and San Jose scored first, in the 18th minute when Chris Wondolowski, the Earthquakes' captain, took advantage of a breakdown in the Galaxy's defense and scored from 25 yards.
The Galaxy came back in the 29th minute on forward Gyasi Zardes' ninth goal of the season.
Robbie Keane started the play with a shot that caromed off the leg of a San Jose player and bounced to Zardes, who fired the ball past Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch. Donovan rushed to Zardes and jumped on the back of the 22-year-old forward as the Galaxy celebrated.
The lead was short-lived. Two minutes later San Jose scored again when Matias Perez Garcia kicked a left-footed line drive that bounced off Galaxy keeper Jaime Penedo and into the net, giving San Jose a 2-1 lead.
It was Perez Garcia's first game with San Jose. Signed last week, the forward had spent most of his career in Argentina.
The Galaxy drew even again in the 49th minute when defender Omar Gonzalez, standing just outside the six-yard box and directly in front of the goal, took a corner kick from Stefan Ishizaki and headed the ball into the net.
This was the second of three regular-season games between the Galaxy and San Jose, a series dubbed the California Clasico. The Galaxy won, 1-0, at Stanford Stadium on June 28.
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