The raw stats on Galaxy captain Landon Donovan tell us a couple of important things – both directly related to last night’s playoff victory.
Donovan, in his second game back since missing about three weeks due to injury, was hardly at his best. The full Donovan pack has more zippiness about it, a few more of those slashing runs, a little more of the crisp interchange born of shrewd, rapid movement off the ball.
But the Galaxy captain did manufacture two huge moments, and that game-changing factor is why any right-thinking manager wants Donovan on the field, even at 80 of 90 percent or whatever.
First, Donovan scored a goal – something he’s done with stunning regularity throughout his long MLS playoff career.
Last night’s successful penalty kick conversion gives the 30-year-old attacker 21 post-season goals in 30 games. Anything north of one goal every other game (or .5 goals per contest if you prefer) is getting the goal-scoring job done, and then some.
We also know this: If you have a penalty kick that absolutely must be made, any club could do a whole lot worse than having Landon Donovan stand over it.
Penalty kicks are pressure situations. Playoff penalty kicks (or PKs in the national team shirt for that matter) come with extra helpings of the thick, nervy gravy. And yet, Donovan delivers consistently.
He is now 5-for-5 in playoff penalty kicks for the Galaxy.
Donovan is 24 for 26 in regular season penalty kick attempts for L.A.
(He is no slouch in the national team shirt, either, having regularly taken and converted the spot shots for about a decade. I’m still working with U.S. national team communications staff to get the correct numbers on that one.)
Donovan doesn’t make them all, of course. Most infamously, he was the Galaxy’s fourth shooter in the PK tiebreaker that would decide MLS Cup 2009. He launched his attempt against Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando well into the chilly Seattle night.
Nobody makes them all. But there’s no doubt that Donovan makes more than most. In fact, his combined playoff and regular season conversion rate of 93.5 percent absolutely puts to shame the historic league rates, which hover around 80 percent.