Donovan makes stellar half-hour return in Reserve League

Landon Donovan in LA's Reserve League match vs. Portland

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of LA Galaxy

CARSON, Calif. – The Galaxy had a new Reserve League debutant make quite the impact Monday, and he says he'll be ready to roll when LA take on Colorado in a regular-season encounter on Friday night.

Landon Donovan, out since Aug. 15 with a hamstring strain, came on for the final half-hour of the Galaxy's clash with Portland and needed just a handful of touches to take command. He had a goal and an assist before 10 minutes passed as LA romped to a 4-0 victory on their Home Depot Center practice field.

“Tired,” Donovan said afterward. “Out of shape. ... I'll be ready for Friday.”

Donovan last week asked the Galaxy to include him “if I was ready.”

“We wanted to see how I progressed,” he said. “I was still not training Friday or Saturday, then Sunday I was able to do a little bit, so if I had a chance to play 30 today, I wanted to, and Curt [Onalfo, the reserve-team coach] was great and let me play.”

Donovan was a force from the start, feeding fellow 57th-minute sub Pat Noonan for LA's second goal in the 60th, then niftily finding Noonan on the left flank, chesting down the return cross and striking into the ceiling of the net five minutes later.

“[Making an impact is] your job when you come off the bench,” Donovan said. “On a day like today, it's a lot easier than normal. It's really hot and everyone's kind of worn out, so if you have any kind of energy, you can make an impact.”

Donovan had never played in a reserve game for the Galaxy – “at [Bayer] Leverkusen I did. I played in a lot of reserve games there” – and he might never play in another.

“I'm going to go out on top, with a win,” he said.

Onalfo praised the psychological benefit for Donovan after a nearly four-week layoff, saying that “to get himself those 30 minutes so he could help us on Friday.”

While the psychology is obvious, the questions still remain about the hamstring – which Donovan says is improving. This was just one step toward a full comeback.

“It's a fine line between it being ready enough to play on and not hurting it anymore,” Donovan said. “Right now it's just ready enough to start working on, and now we've got to be careful with it and get ready for Friday.”

Could he go 90 minutes?

“That's always dictated by a game,” he said, “but playing as a forward is a little easier than if you're in the midfield doing a lot of doggy work. So I should be fine.”