File this under “Clearly no coincidence.”
Landon Donovan has played two five-star rated matches since his return to the Galaxy lineup. Both of them happened to be matches in which Robbie Keane started alongside.
No offense to the young men filling here and there for the Irish international who meant so much to last year’s MLS Cup defense, nor to Mike Magee. But none of them are Robbie Keane.
So when we consider Donovan and his place in the U.S. game – And aren’t we all spending significant time these days biting into the gooey center of that one? – that part needs to be part of the equation. So far, he’s been all that and a Big Gulp alongside Keane … but perhaps just a small glass of water without the veteran Irishman.
Donovan had a goal and an assist as the Galaxy put a proper ground and pound on Sporting Kansas City on April 20. Keane’s iffy ankle kept him from starting again until Wednesday, when Donovan had a goal and two assists in a splashy 4-1 win at Philadelphia.
If you identified the champs’ best pair of wins this year, those would be it. One dominant win over in-form (but a bit tired, in all fairness) Sporting KC, and a three-goal victory on the road, at a decent, if young Union side? Yep … that’ll do.
Those are the two matches in 2013 in which Donovan and Keane have both started. We’ve said it time and again, but it deserves to be noted yet again … Keane’s astute movement off the ball is about the best in MLS, or the best this side of Thierry Henry, at least.
Donovan certainly recognizes it … and then some:
I think everybody can see the difference [when Keane is on the field]. It’s not just the goals or the passing, but he occupies people. So when he’s not on the field, it’s easier for teams to key on a few of us. But when he is on the field, they have to worry about him, and that opens up a lot of space for the rest of us. And then if we’re good in the attacking third, we’re going to score goals.”