CARSON, Calif. – For Landon Donovan, six years has been long enough.
The LA Galaxy captain has a chance to put to bed the longest title drought of his professional career on Sunday in MLS Cup 2011 (9 pm ET, ESPN, Galavision, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). Donovan helped the Galaxy to the league title in 2005 – his first year with his hometown team – but hasn’t cleared the final hurdle since.
“It feels longer, to be honest,” he told reporters at the Galaxy’s final training session at the Home Depot Center on Saturday. “There were some bad years here and there’s been some good years, but we’ve had disappointing finishes to each of the last two seasons.”
Immediately following MLS Cup 2005, Donovan suffered through the worst patch in Galaxy club history as the club went on to miss the postseason for three straight years.
Bruce Arena eventually turned the ship around after his hiring in midsummer of ’08 and turned LA into a powerhouse. But the Galaxy still couldn’t win the big game, losing in a PK shootout to Real Salt Lake in MLS Cup 2009 and getting blown out by FC Dallas in the 2010 Western Conference Championship.
This year, however, has been a rewarding one for Donovan, as he has watched his team enjoy one of the best seasons of any team in league history, setting defensive records along the way, getting the best out of David Beckham and clinching a second straight Supporters’ Shield. Those past trials and tribulations have made the heights of 2011 even sweeter.
“When it’s easy, it’s not as rewarding,” Donovan said. “It certainly hasn’t been easy. It’s been a good journey and a lot of fun.”
Donovan is not a player accustomed to missing out on championships, as he won three MLS Cups in six seasons, 2001 and ’03 with San Jose, and ’05 with LA. On Sunday, he can end his record dry spell with a win over Houston.
“It feels like an eternity,” he said, “but it’ll all go away with a win tomorrow.”