Earthquakes fans once cheered him as an L.A. Galaxy-slayer and the poster boy of American soccer.

Landon Donovan, who announced Thursday he will retire at the end of the 2014 season, was the brightest light on Quakes' squads that earned 2001 and 2003 MLS Cup championships. He spurned the Quakes to join the Galaxy in 2005 and ultimately became one of the greatest national team players in U.S. history.

"I think for the last few years, I haven't had the same passion that I had previously in my career," Donovan, 32, said at a news conference at the Galaxy stadium. "To some extent, I had felt obligated to keep playing. It's time to enjoy the rest of the season, and there would be no better way than to go out as a champion, so that's what I want to do."

FILE - This Aug. 28, 2013, file photo, shows Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan speaking at news conference in Carson, Calif. Donovan says he will
FILE - This Aug. 28, 2013, file photo, shows Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan speaking at news conference in Carson, Calif. Donovan says he will retire from professional soccer at the end of the MLS season. The LA Galaxy forward is widely considered the best soccer player in American history. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File) ( Nick Ut )

Donovan and the Earthquakes will renew old acquaintances Friday, when San Jose travels to L.A.

Donovan's decision to retire came one day after he scored the winning goal in the MLS All-Star game to beat Bayern Munich 2-1.

Last spring, Donovan was cut from the U.S. World Cup team by coach Juergen Klinsmann, a controversial move considering Donovan is the all-time leader in goals for the national team with 57. That had nothing to do with his decision to retire, Donovan said.

"I certainly wasn't going to allow one person's poor choice to affect a decision like this," he said.

Quakes fans remain conflicted about Donovan. Many of them still view him as a traitor, rooting for him with the national team and booing him with the Galaxy.


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When Donovan returned to MLS after a second disappointing stint with Germany's Bayer Leverkusen in 2005, he did not return to San Jose. Instead, he joined forces with his hometown team, the Galaxy.

Spurned Quakes fans didn't take the news well. The kid who brought them championships had gone to their hated rival.

As Quakes Hall of Famer Troy Dayak said Thursday, explaining the fans' outrage: "It's the Galaxy, man. It's the L.A. Galaxy. That's our fierce rival, Lex Luther, whatever you want to call it. We don't like L.A., that's just what it is."

Donovan's friends say he left San Jose simply because he wanted to go home. Born in Ontario, he's was a Southern California guy, through and through.

"I've got nothing but love for Landon," said Quakes assistant Ian Russell, Donovan's teammate with the Quakes from 2001 to '03 and with the Galaxy in 2006. "He played with the Quakes when he was 18 or 19, he was just a kid, and in that first year he showed everybody how special he was going to be. We won the MLS Cup that year, and he was the reason. He was phenomenal."

It remains murky how Donovan ended up in Los Angeles. The story goes that San Jose traded away his rights, which enabled the Galaxy to land him via allocation on his return from Germany. But sources say the league rule that sent Donovan to L.A. was put in place only a week before he returned, leading to suspicions of malfeasance.

That Donovan promptly led the Galaxy to the 2005 MLS Cup made the move more painful for Quakes fans.

In 2001, as a Quakes rookie, Donovan became the league's brightest young star. He had a club-high 10 assists and seven goals and was named All-Star game MVP with a record-breaking four-goal effort. He had five goals in six playoff matches and one more goal in the final, a 2-1 win over the Galaxy.

In 2003, he scored twice in the Quakes' 4-2 win over Chicago in the MLS Cup. He also scored and assisted the winner in the 2003 Western Conference semifinals, when San Jose rallied from 4-0 down on aggregate to shock L.A. 5-4 at Spartan Stadium. It is still considered the greatest comeback in MLS history. He is the all-time leading scorer in MLS with 138 goals.

"There is no doubt that Major League Soccer would not be what it is today without Landon Donovan," MLS commissioner Don Garber said. "His decision to join MLS in 2001 was a statement to the entire soccer community, at the most crucial time in our history, that MLS could be a league of choice for the best American players. Landon is to MLS what Michael Jordan was to the NBA, Wayne Gretzky was to the NHL and Tiger Woods was to the PGA Tour."