HARRISON, N.J. (AP) — Major League Soccer plans to keep Landon Donovan.
"He's become a real soccer hero," Garber said Thursday after the news conference to announce French star Thierry Henry's signing with the New York Red Bulls. "MLS needs soccer heroes, and we have a great American soccer hero playing for us in LA, holding the torch for the sport in our country, and that's very important. I don't believe that it's something we can do without."
Donovan was the best U.S. player at the World Cup, scoring three goals to become the American career leader with five. He agreed in December to a four-year contract with MLS that pays him a base salary this year of $2.05 million.
While Donovan struggled during previous stints with Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich, he played strongly and attracted renewed attention in Europe when MLS loaned him to Everton for 10 weeks in January. Donovan scored two goals in 13 matches, helping the Toffees beat Chelsea and Manchester United, and draw against Arsenal.
Everton captain Phil Neville told Everton TV last week during the club's preseason tour of Australia that "I've spoken to Landon and I know for a fact that he wants to come back here."
When he returned to the Galaxy from the World Cup on July 2, Donovan left an opening.
"Right now, I want to be in America," he said. "If there's something serious to look at, then I will. I never say never to anything. But for now, I'm very excited to be home."
Garber said additional offseason loans are possible but isn't interested in a permanent transfer.
"Landon is in my view the greatest player of our generation and an incredibly valuable part of our history but also of our future," Garber said. "He proved in England last year on loan and he proved in South Africa that he's a world-class player and he's also proved that he loves our league and really has accepted the mantle of really being one of the leaders of the sport. It is my hope and my expectation that we have him for the rest of his career because I think the contributions that he makes are invaluable to our future success."
Donovan's agent, Richard Motzkin, declined to respond to Garber's remarks.