Tag: Donovan

Landon Donovan

Highlights: Landon Donovan ties MLS goal scoring record in SuperClasico rout


After 41 minutes at StubHub Center, the only thing that separated Landon Donovan from his eventual place alone atop Major League Soccer’s career scoring list was a single goal, with his first half double against Chivas USA helping the Galaxy to 5-0 win over their cross-venue rivals and a himself to a share of the all-time goal-scoring mark.

Robbie Keane opened the scoring after five minutes before Donovan doubled LA’s lead in the 23rd minute. Rookie Gyasi Zardes further pried open the floodgates three minutes later, with Donovan’s 134th career MLS goal sending Los Angeles into halftime up 4-0.

Keane’s 15th goal of the season just before full-time completed the romp, but the lasting story will be Donovan’s knocking on the door of history. Coming into the day third on the all-time list, Donovan’s passed DC United legend Jamie Moreno and will have an chance to overtake Cunningham on Oct. 20, when he returns from international duty to face the San Jose Earthquakes.

That leaves us with two weeks to hype this thing up, though that fortnight will go by in a flash. While Donovan’s on international duty with the U.S., people will be so focused on the national team that we’re unlikely to see the tension escalate until days before San Jose’s visit to StubHub.

But by the time Donovan takes the field again in Carson? Expect the Riot Squad and Angel City Brigade to be ready, though with only two regular season games left (San Jose, then Oct. 27 at Seattle), there’s still a chance Donovan’s pursuit could carry over into the 2014 season.

DPS: Landon Donovan discusses Mexico, qualifying for 2014, and his post World Cup future

Mexico v United States - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier
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One day after scoring the second goal in the U.S.’s 2-0 win over Mexico, Landon Donovan was on the Dan Patrick Show, where the newly reintegrated national teamer did his best to coax the host to attending next year’s World Cup.

Patrick was initially resistant. He’s going to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, he said. He’d be in Rio for the 2016 Summer games. He did he have to go to Brazil in 2014 just to follow Landon?

Eventually, the two made a deal. In exchange for information about Donovan’s post-2014 future, Patrick ends up making him a promise. Along the way, the two talk about Donovan’s right eye (a point of interest in Columbus), the star’s winter sabbatical, and whether the United States needs the icon to succeed in next year’s finals.

Highlights and context: Landon Donovan posts fourth career hat trick, but Galaxy can’t hold on

Game winning goalscorer Landon Donovan c

Six goals. Five after the 45th minute. Three equalizers. A legend’s explosion, an assistant referee’s horrible night, and the continuing frailty of the two-time defending champions. This match had a little of everything, and as it concerns Landon Donovan goals and blown offside calls, it had a lot.

FC Dallas and LA Galaxy played to a 3-3 draw Sunday night, a result that leaves each team outside the Western Conference’s playoff spot. But in a game that saw both teams trail and each side have to fight back, the point could be see as a good thing for both. Los Angeles made a mid-summer trip to Dallas and came away with a result – an objectively decent result. FCD was able to counter a Landon Donovan hat trick, something that would normally put Bruce Arena’s team in the win column.

And this wasn’t one of those hat tricks players sometimes stumble onto. A defense-splitting run in first half stoppage time allowed Donovan to convert a Robbie Keane ball behind Dallas’s high line. His first time blast from inside the arc doubled his haul in the 73rd minute, while a marksman’s finish into the bottom right-hand corner completed his hat trick nine minutes later. If this were radio, the morning drive producer would have used the NBA Jam “He’s on fire” drop.

Ultimately, a couple of terrible calls and LA’s season-long foibles cancelled out Donovan’s hat trick. Matt Hedges opened the scoring from some pretty basic corner kick execution. In the second half, a restart saw LA’s defense exploited again, though the assistant referee’s flag should have end up for offside. And four minutes after Donovan’s third goal, more poor defending and assistant referee mistakes helped Dallas pull even.

The linesman has to be better with the calls on Dallas’s last two goals (below). There’s just no excuse for missing calls off a restart. At the same time, LA has to be better at defending these situations, from the goalkeeper forward.

Once that problem gets solved, you’d think LA’s tendency to give away late goals also disappears. They’ve got to solve this anti-Goonies thing at some point.

Landon’s goals are up top. Dallas’s goals? Right here:


Is Omar Gonzalez worth LA Galaxy’s third Designated Player spot?

Omar Gonzalez-Oct

Amid SI.com’s report on how Clint Dempsey arrived in Seattle was a small bit of news regarding Omar Gonzalez. You know who I’m talking about, right? Big guy, handsome, smiles a lot. Does a great scud missile impression on opposition crosses. Hates Steven Lenhart (so many do). Well, last year’s MLS Cup Final Most Valuable Player is out of contract at the end of the year, leading to a season’s worth of subtle speculation where he’ll play next season.

According to the post, LA Galaxy are “expected to soon announce” their third Designated Player spot will be filled by Gonzalez.  The 24-year-old Texan would presumably bypass an opportunity to move to Europe (or Mexico) and stay where he’s played since 2009, though there’s no word on whether taking David Beckham’s DP spot would also give Omar corresponding rights to his parking space.

The value for money will all depend on Gonzalez’s new salary, but good luck convincing Los Angeles he’s not worthy of their Designated Player spot. As last year’s championship game showed, at his best, Gonzalez is the most dominant player in Major League Soccer, and while it might be easier to find a defender who can give you acceptable performance (implying you should allocate your resources elsewhere), Gonzalez is the rare defender that forces you to reconsider: How many more goals is he preventing than another defender; how much would it cost to replace that; would it cost less to replace that production elsewhere; and would that replacement be as marketable as Gonzalez?

Screw it, Bruce Arena’s probably thinking. When LA struggled without Gonzalez to start last season, he may have seen all he needed. Even if somebody sat him down, lauded his handling of the U.S. in 2002, then tried to argue the money’d be put to better use elsewhere, there may be a set of factors specific to this Galaxy that trump your logic (and ass-kissing). Did you see how much better the team was when Gonzalez returned? Or how Omar played in the playoffs? How LA doesn’t have to play with a dedicated ball-winner in the middle, thanks to Gonzalez’s quality? How the near-impossibility of practically replacing him might force Arena to change too much of a winning formula?

Screw it, he might tell Chris Klein. If we can afford to keep him — if we’ve come to the point where, after chasing Kaká, Frank Lampard, and Gio dos Santos, where we’re not landing a big marketable sort — let’s just keep Omar. Let’s just suck it up and keep one of the most important guys to our last two title teams.

For LA, however, it’s not that simple. More than any team in the league (even the Clint Dempsey-laden Sounders), the Galaxy’s Designated Player spots are precious. As the Beckham signing illustrated, the talent LA is capable of luring to California means they’re playing by a different set of rules. When they sign a third Designated Player, filling up all their over-budget roster spots, there’s a huge opportunity cost, one that complicates any pure talent-based evaluation.

In that respect, how wise is it for LA to make Gonzalez the second defender in Major League Soccer history to occupy a Designated Player spot (Rafa Marquez, New York, 2010-2012)? If we’re talking about a Real Salt Lake, Houston, or Sporting Kansas City filling their last DP place, it’s a totally different equation. Those are all great organizations for whom anybody should want to play, but the opportunity costs on their DPs just aren’t as steep.

At the same time, this is a choice the Galaxy may not have to make. LA already has Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan as Designated Players, but one of those all-stars is out of contract at the end of the year. And as Donovan’s recently said, he’s plans on listening to offers. Given his exploits this winter, it’d be foolish to predict Donovan’s future, but given the experience he had during two stints with Everton, would it be so surprising to see this new, more mature, open-minded Donovan take another plunge?

That’s speculation for another space. The point: Just as we can’t evaluate Gonzalez’s value-for-money until we know the numbers, we also can’t assess the cost of that Designated Player spot until we know what’s happening with Donovan. Will Gonzalez sign on with a team that has one Designated Player? Or will be be taking that final, precious Designated Player spot?

And in either situation, is he worth it?

Jurgen Klinsmann says “high probability” Donovan part of September’s World Cup Qualifying

Championship - 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup

The lasting influence of this year’s Gold Cup may be at an individual level While winning a confederation title will always be an honor to the players who made up the United States’ CONCACAF champions, the tournament came in the middle of a World Cup cycle. Not only did that mean many key players were rested, but it also placed the past two weeks’ results in the context of the States’ path to Brazil. Which players were improving their stocks was more discussed than the matches’ results.

That perspective wasn’t lost on the media post-match, a group who were quick to ask about Landon Donovan. After a tournament where the returning attacker was clearly the competition’s best player, there was a natural curiosity as to his status with the national team. Is he back in the fold, fully re-established after this winter’s sabbatical? Or will the U.S. continue to forge through qualifying without him.

You don’t have to be the U.S.’s most ardent fan to know the answer. If you’re playing well and fit what Klinsmann’s trying to accomplish, you’re going to be called in. And after raising his Most Valuable Players’ trophy after today’s victory, there’s no doubt Donovan’s both playing well and fits.


It’s absolutely normal that there’s a high probability that he joins us for the September games. It’s absolutely a non-discussion. But he also knows that it’s always the present. It’s always about today and tomorrow. He took that very well. He accepted that role. He swallowed a couple pills, which is normal.

Donovan’s biggest backers won’t want to see references to “pills,” taking things well, or anything short of a guarantee of a qualifying role. But beyond that loyalty-fueled perspective, this is as positive an outcome as Donovan could have hoped for from this tournament.

There are very few players Klinsmann would give a rosier prognosis than “high probability.” Maybe the Dempseys, Bradleys,and Howards of the world get some rope, but we saw what happened to Jozy Altidore last November. He international play waned, he ceased fitting what Klinsmann was trying to do, and he missed a call up. Nine months later Altidore seems like an obligatory call up, but his arc also shows how quickly things can change.

What if a player’s form dips? Or they get injured? Or other players step up, or there a specific tactical considerations that influence a callup? Along with this absence from previous qualifying teams, that’s where a player like Donovan goes from lock to high probability, and while other coaches may be more willing to give assurances, this is how Jurgen Klinsmann goes about his business. It’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Besides, any lingering conspiracies about Donovan being held out because of some personality conflict or internal rift were addressed by the player himself, reflecting on the process that led to his Gold Cup triumph:

I wasn’t in a place to contribute then … I wanted to come back and contribute, so it feels good to help.

Provided Donovan carries his Gold Cup form into the MLS’s second half, he’ll be called in come September. There doesn’t need to be a big sit down. There are no hatchets to bury. He’s a player in the pool, and when he warrants a spot, he gets it.

The more interesting consideration is what, exactly, that entails. The U.S. is at the top of their qualifying group, seemingly cruising to a spot in Brazil. While that doesn’t preclude Donovan claiming a spot in Klinsmann’s starting XI, it does hint there’s some competition. Something is working right now. There may be nothing to fix. In that picture, where would the Galaxy star fit in? And at what expense?

Some feel he’s best suited for an impact sub’s role. At least initially. Others obviously feel a player of his talent should go right into the team. If he does, does that mean Graham Zusi loses his spot? That was the dynamic that seemed to be in place last month, but now it’s worth wondering if Donovan would move Fabian Johnson to left back and take the left midfielder’s spot.

But also consider: Donovan was used exclusively as a supporting striker in the Gold Cup. While that may have been a function of the squad’s make up, did it also hint at what Klinsmann sees as Donovan’s best role? Be it as Clint Dempsey’s understudy or moving the team’s captain to another position?

As the cliché goes, these are all problems a coach would love to have. And as a credit to how far Donovan’s come in the last few months, they’re also the most pertinent questions surrounding his national team future. Though there’s still a chance he won’t be called into September’s qualifiers, all indications are he will be. Now the discussion shifts to how (and where) he fits.