CARSON, Calif. – If the LA Galaxy’s sensational form the past month and half has given rivals reason for concern, just imagine the kind of impact Landon Donovan’s performances must be having on those plotting how to stop him.
Already a legend on these shores, the 32-year-old attacker has been at his best the past few weeks, ever since revealing three weeks ago that he’ll hang up his boots when this season is done.
He took it a level higher Wednesday night at StubHub Center. With Robbie Keane sidelined with an injury the Galaxy would not identify, Donovan took on many of the Irishman’s duties in addition to his own, modulating LA’s attack as it produced three first-half goals, then converting a late penalty kick to complete a 4-1 rout of Eastern Conference leaders D.C. United.
Donovan made the telling pass on all three goals before halftime – he picked up assists on two of them, moving within eight of Steve Ralston’s MLS record – as the Galaxy dominated D.C. just as they have New England, Seattle, Portland, San Jose and Vancouver in the last six weeks.
"He was unbelievable. He was good," said forward Alan Gordon, who gave the Galaxy a lead after just 67 seconds after a superb Donovan through ball sent him streaking toward United’s box. "I’ve played with Landon a long time, and he’s real motivated right now. And a motivated Landon is very dangerous."
He’s got three goals and three assists in the last 2½ games, starting with the second-half comeback in Colorado, but his contributions, as always, go so much deeper than what makes the scoresheet. He seems to be playing with a freedom, with a joie de vivre that isn’t always present, and has been since he made up his mind, just before the Seattle romp, that this would be it for him.
"I realize very clearly that there’s only so many more chances to do this, and the decision to retire and playing this way are intricately linked," Donovan said in a happy LA locker room. "That’s given me freedom to relax and enjoy it, and it’s taken all the pressure off, and that’s when I play my best. It’s been a lot of fun, I’m enjoying it, and most of all, I like winning."
Donovan had added responsibilities Wednesday with Keane out. The Galaxy captain was hurt in Saturday’s win over Vancouver and is "day to day," Arena reported.
"Hopefully, he’ll be ready to go on Sunday," Arena said.
Either way, the Galaxy look unstoppable at the moment. Donovan was asked if this was the best they’ve played since 2011, when they led the league wire-to-wire while winning 19 games, amassing 67 points and streaking to the MLS Cup title.
"Yeah, I think so," he said. "I just think we have a very good comfort level with each other. When we defend that way and we’re committed that way, with that kind of aggressive attitude defensively, we do all those offensive things naturally and we move naturally and we pass naturally and we all have a good understanding for each other.
"Those things are always there, but when you add in the defensive side and the mentality that we’ve had, it makes us a very good team."