Donovan is set to step away from the sport at the end of the MLS season, and he was afforded a 30-minute appearance against Ecuador on Friday to say farewell to the national team fans.
The 32-year-old is USA's record scorer with 57 goals in 157 games spanning a 14-year international career.
Fans showered Donovan with trinkets and cheers as he left Rentschler Field, while a pre-match presentation went through some of the LA Galaxy forward's highlights on the international stage.
Though unable to bow out with a win as a late Enner Valencia strike snatched a 1-1 draw for Ecuador, who had gone behind to Mikkel Diskerud's early effort, Donovan remained touched by the occasion.
"It was beyond my wildest dreams, for sure," Donovan said. "As a human being, to feel that kind of love and support is incredible.
"I've put a lot into this game over many years and tonight feels like it was all worth it.
"There's just a lot, a lot of moments and memories.
"My life has been shaped through this sport and I'm so blessed because I've been able to grow and learn with all the experiences this sport has given me and that's pretty cool."
Donovan looked in fine fettle during his cameo, going close a couple of times and even hitting the post with one shot.
And the attacker insisted afterwards he had not gone into the game looking to take it easy and lap up the adulation.
"I'm not overly comfortable with that kind of attention on me," he explained.
"So it was a battle with myself to just try to enjoy it and allow it and appreciate it, while balancing still playing a game.
"This was a real game, and for a lot of guys, for all the guys, it's a big opportunity, so I wanted to take that seriously and I wanted to make sure I contributed to it, so that made it a different game."
Donovan was in such high spirits, he even managed to crack a joke about his omission from Jurgen Klinsmann's World Cup squad.
When asked what the Germany had said to him, Donovan cheekily replied: "He told me he should have taken me to Brazil... just kidding!
"Jurgen and I spoke today. We had a good conversation and we both agreed that we wanted tonight to be about tonight, and that's it."
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