CARSON, Calif. – It's been two months since the MLS season kicked off, and Landon Donovan is still looking for goal No. 135, the one that will push him ahead of Jeff Cunningham on MLS' all-time career list.
If the LA Galaxy star doesn't get it Sunday against the Portland Timbers (2:30 pm ET, NBCSN, Free stream on NBCSports.com; TSN2 in Canada), he'll likely have to wait another two months, or thereabouts, before the chance will come his way again. This will be his final MLS game before joining the US camp ahead of the World Cup, and it sure would be nice to take care of the record sooner than later, right?
“I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing,” Donovan said following Friday's training session at StubHub Center. “If I can help by scoring, that certainly helps. I can certainly be more dangerous attacking, I can be more selfish, I can take more chances, and I plan on doing that this weekend.”
Donovan said he wants to head into the camp, which begins next week at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., with confidence. A goal might help in that regard, some think.
“He can certainly be better, but he's shown a lot more sharpness over the last couple of weeks,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “I think he's moving forward, his fitness is good, and he's got to get a goal to help his confidence a little bit. So hopefully that happens on Sunday.”
Donovan isn't thinking in those terms.
“I don't really see it that way,” he said. “Every player wants to score, and it feels good to score, but I really do feel I'm doing a lot of things that are helping the team right now and helping us play well, and certainly, a goal helps in that way, too. But if I don't score Sunday, I still feel good about where I am going in [to camp].”
Galaxy captain Robbie Keane thinks it would be good for the goal to come, just to halt all the questions about when it's going to happen.
“As a striker, you go through stages where things aren't going as well as you'd like them, but it's 100-percent going to come,” said Keane, who has four of LA's seven league goals this season. “The more you worry about it, the more difficult it's going to be. Everyone knows it's only a matter of time.
“I think he'd be happy to get it out of the way because the worst thing is when people talk about it all the time, that's the most frustrating thing. For yourself, you don't get too frustrated, but when people keep asking you questions about it, that's the annoying part.”
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Donovan says he “gets” the media attention to the record, but he's consistently conveyed that it isn't a huge priority for him – except in how it could help the team. He's had a number of very good opportunities already this season and sometimes passes them up to feed a teammate.
“I can be more selfish, for sure,” he said. “I enjoy other players doing well and succeeding, and really, if I'm not in the ideal spot to score, I want to make sure I give us the best chance to score. All that being said, I can still be more aggressive.”
That, he said, “is a constant battle for me.”
“Bruce and I talk about it a lot,” Donovan said. “I can keep doing that and keep progressing.”