PORTLAND, Ore. – Landon Donovan has done a lot of talking in recent weeks about the process of his return to the US national team.
But on Tuesday night, attention turned to yet another milestone for the greatest attacker to wear the Red, White and Blue when Donovan became the first US player to join the “50-50 Club,” with more than 50 assists and 50 goals on the international stage, after he notched two assists and a penalty kick goal in a 6-1 rout over Belize in their CONCACAF Gold Cup opener Tuesday at JELD-WEN Field.
“I’m proud of it," Donovan said. “I’m also very aware that if guys don’t score, you don’t get an assist. I’ve been fortunate to play with a lot of good players.”
Making his 146th appearance for the US, but just the second since last August’s victory over Mexico at Estadio Azteca, Donovan continued to show signs of his resurgence when he built on his two-goal performance in an international friendly victory over Guatemala. On Tuesday, against an overmatched Belize side, Donovan was back to familiar ways making runs all night at a hapless Belize defense.
“It was a great night, the crowd was great, the energy was great, I thought we started well,” he said. “I was a little disappointed to give up a goal, but I think it was a great night for us and a great night for the team and a good start to the tournament.”
He collected his 50th international assist, to go with the 51 goals he had coming into the game, when he headed down a cross to perfectly set up Stuart Holden’s 57th-minute goal. Donovan didn’t rest on 50 for long, and in the 71st minute set up Michael Orozco’s headed goal with another cross.
He converted on a 75th-minute penalty kick for career goal No. 52 after referee Hector Rodriguez whistled a Belize defender for a handball in the box.
“Now it’s about physically getting yourself ready and emotionally getting up for another game, which now we can all do,” Donovan said.
He also said his game is starting to round into form. He lined up at forward alongside San Jose striker Chris Wondolowski and played all 90 minutes.
“More confident, more comfortable,” Donovan said. “It’s always nice to score.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.