You don’t have to be Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson all rolled into one – that’s one big mass of managerial brilliance, don’t you know? – to see certain things about the game with crystal clarity.
Here’s a great “for instance:” Someone other than Landon Donovan needs to step up on penalty kick duty next time an MLS ref points to the spot for the Galaxy.
Donovan was once among the country’s most reliable figures from the 12-yard mark. Never mind that silly, involved little hand dance that once preceded his spot shots, he was money just the same.
(On the national team, too … although those numbers are surprisingly difficult to turn up. I’ll keep trying.)
As the 2012 MLS season closed, Donovan was 24 for 26 in regular season penalty kicks. You can slice and dice stats until you are blue in the soccer face, but you could not turn those numbers any way that wouldn’t look damned impressive.
But Donovan … well, he just isn’t there right now. He couldn’t squeeze one past Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez three weeks ago. Then last night at home, Donovan could not beat Houston’s Tally Hall.
Watch them both below. Meanwhile, here’s what Galaxy manager Bruce Arena said about it:
Never good to miss a penalty kick. We’re probably going to have to change that. He’s missed two in two games that we’ve lost, 1-0. Not good, so we probably need to make a change there.”
One problem is in the lack of an obvious choice to fill in for Donovan. Make no mistake: not everyone has a big enough bag of practice balls to step up and hit these. Robbie Keane certainly does, but he’s been hurt lately. Plus, he’ll miss more time this summer due to Ireland internationals.
Juninho? Marcelo Sarvas? One of the young kids now on patrol along the Galaxy front line? We may soon find out.
First, the thwarted effort in a 1-0 loss at FC Dallas:
And then last night’s shot, hit to just about the same spot and saved by Houston’s Tally Hall. Note the stutter-step, rather than the more confidence “stride up and smack it” approach: