LA Galaxy's Landon Donovan returns to "expected" form after USMNT omission hangover
Landon Donovan continues to search for his best form, a struggle he's endured much of the year, and his performance in the LA Galaxy's romp Monday night at Seattle was a huge step forward.
The veteran attacker scored a goal and assisted the other two as LA tore apart the Sounders over the first 45 minutes en route to a 3-0 triumph.
Donovan, starting from the left flank, was pivotal in the Galaxy's use of width and movement to create and exploit gaping spaces in Seattle territory, which enabled them to finish off the game before the Sounders had a shot on goal.
"I felt like I haven't played well lately, and that's bothered me," Donovan told reporters at CenturyLink Field. "I got myself to the point in early May where I was playing very well and I was at the top of my game. The last month has been difficult for a lot of reasons, and I think my performance dropped off.
"I wanted to get back to getting to the top of my game, and I felt that way tonight."
Donovan unselfishly set up Gyasi Zardes' eighth-minute opener, taking a feed from Marcelo Sarvas in the Seattle box and, despite an open shot, laying it off for the second-year forward to finish. He crept alone into the goalmouth to score on a rebound of a Sarvas shot 10 minutes later, then hooked up with Sarvas to create Stefan Ishizaki's tally in the 36th minute.
Donovan, who has dealt with a few minor but nagging injuries this summer, played a huge role in the Galaxy's massive first-half advantage in possession and territory, and he probably should have had a second goal, firing over the net with an open shot when the lead was still 2-0.
"Everybody has a spell where they're not doing too well," captain Robbie Keane said, "but all it takes is one game to change things around, and that's certainly the game tonight for him."
Donovan, who has split time up front and in midfield, has been solid all season as a linkman, connecting teammates while LA have dominated a number of foes on the field, if not on the scoreboard. But he'd had just two major performances before Monday, with a goal and assist in the 3-0 rout of Chivas USA in early April and two goals – the first giving him sole possession of MLS' career record – and an assist in a 4-1 destruction of Philadelphia in late May.
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That performance against the Union was in his return to the Galaxy after Jurgen Klinsmann controversially omitted him from the US national team World Cup roster. There has been some residue from the decision, Donovan acknowledged.
"That's not an easy thing for any player to handle, but mentally it's my job to do what’s right for this team and to be at my best," he said. "I felt really good this week. I feel like I’m starting to play well again. I really pushed myself to be playing well in April and May of this year, and I was, and then I just dropped off a little bit. It’s important for me to get back to that.
"Again, this is only one night, and it’s got to continue. That’s what’s expected of me, and that’s what I expect of myself."