CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan's “farewell” tour took something of a toll on the LA Galaxy legend, and his exquisite performance in last weekend's rout over Real Salt Lake was a reminder of what he can do when he has the proper focus.
That's a warning for the Seattle Sounders, who didn't see the best of Donovan when they topped LA in the season-ending, home-and-home series to claim the Supporters' Shield.
Donovan, who will retire at the close of the Galaxy's season, expects to be at the top of his form when LA take on the Sounders on Nov. 23 at StubHub Center (5 pm ET; ESPN, get tickets here) in the opener of the Western Conference Championship series of the MLS Cup Playoffs, presented by AT&T.
“I think there was a lot going on the last few weeks of the [regular] season,” Donovan said in his weekly media session following Thursday's training session. “There were a lot of things going on off the field, a lot of nice things that happened to me, but it didn't allow me to just focus on playing.”
Donovan made his final appearance with the US national team in mid-October, and that, along with his final regular-season games for the Galaxy, boosted demands on his time by media and marketing concerns. He also was honored during every final appearance in opponents' stadiums. It all added up.
“The week leading up to the two Salt Lake games, I had a chance to really just focus on playing again,” he said. “So I was feeling better and better, I was doing better in training, everything was sort of coming along. I was due for a bit of a better performance.”
So were the Galaxy, who had gone more than a month without a victory. Donovan applauded his team's approach to the series with RSL and said he's confident they'll be in good shape to take down the Sounders.
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“We're confident that we know how to play in these series,” Donovan said. “After the first Salt Lake game, we felt great about it and, even though it was sort of an ugly 0-0 game, we felt great about the position we were in, and we know how to play at home. It's going to be reversed this time, playing Seattle home first, but we like the way we play here, we think we have an opportunity to win and score goals here, and that's going to be the objective.
“… The goal is going to be, clearly, to win and ideally win by a few goals, not allow goals, and those are the three objectives. For us, it's going to change the mentality a little bit [from what it was for the series against RSL], but we know, no matter what happens in the first game, we can win anywhere in the league. And we've proved [in the late-July victory] in Seattle: We can go there and win if we need to.”