CARSON, Calif. -- Landon Donovan says he shouldn't have been on the field last weekend, but he's ready now, and that could be enough to prod the LA Galaxy's attack in something close to a must-win situation in Sunday's SuperClasico vs. Chivas USA (5ET, UniMas).
Donovan was a shell of himself in last week's loss at Portland, his first action after spraining his left ankle two weekends earlier, and partner Robbie Keane wasn't at his sharpest either. When MLS's best frontline duo isn't crisp, we've seen again and again, the Galaxy attack can be toothless.
“We need to be 100 percent healthy, no question,” Donovan said ahead of the season's final clash with Chivas USA, the first of three successive home games LA (13-11-6) has at the StubHub Center. “Robbie's played through a number of injuries this year that don't get documented. A lot of our guys have dealt with things, and all teams deal with that -- that's part of being an athlete.
"When we're all healthy and when we're all fit, I think we get good chances, and those are the games where we've had 20, 25, 30 shots and two or three or four goals. And when we get back to that, we'll be more likely to have games like that.”
Scouting Report: Does Chivas have a shot?
They're not there yet -- Donovan acknowledges his ankle “still hurts, it's still sore,” and that restricts his movement, a integral part of what makes him so dangerous. But he's trained all week and says he has “the confidence to know that [I'm] not going to do any damage on it.”
“For all intents and purposes, I shouldn't have played last week,” said Donovan, who had trained just twice prior to the match. “But I feel better this week about how it's going, and I think I'll have more confidence in doing things that I'm good at.”
The Galaxy controlled most of last week's encounter in Oregon, but failed to turn opportunities into dangerous chances and dropped a 1-0 decision that leaves them just a point above the playoff cutoff with four games left on their schedule. The Timbers' defense did a fine job of isolating Keane, and Donovan's rustiness left connections frayed up top.
“Sometimes you make a bad decision, or sometimes you have off days. Everyone has an off day,” Keane explained. “Some days you have a bad game, sometimes you have a good game. Sometimes connections work, sometimes they don't. We're running out of time, so they have to start working fairly soon, because if not, we'll see ourselves slip further down that table.”
Thirteen of LA's 14 league goals in the past two months have been scored or assisted by Donovan or Keane, and only three of those were put into the net by somebody else. When they're not on, the Galaxy does not score.
“It's the hardest thing to do in our sport, is to be a goalscorer and be consistent,” said associate head coach Dave Sarachan, who Sunday will guide the Galaxy, with Bruce Arena suspended. “It's a collective effort of our team and how we move, but pound for pound I would take Robbie and Landon every day of the week, and I think in games that count -- like Sunday -- and being at home, I think we're going to create a lot of chances and be dangerous.”
Scott French covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com.