Landon Donovan Breaks a Record, Makes a Statement
At the risk of angering ASN's surprisingly robust contingent of Landon Donovan detractors, here's the deal: The greatest player in U.S. soccer history set an all-time MLS record last night. Nick Kariuki has more.
May 26, 2014
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THE GAME YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN
If Landon Donovan was looking to make a statement in his first match back with the Los Angeles Galaxy after being cut by Jurgen Klinsmann, he couldn’t have done much better than he did in Sunday’s 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union.
The Galaxy took the lead two minutes in when Donovan lofted a free kick toward Leonardo at the top of the six-yard box and the Brazilian nodded the ball into the bottom-right corner.
Donovan’s eight-month wait to become the MLS’s all-time leading scorer ended in the 49th minute when crisp interplay between he and team captain Robbie Keane left Donovan with an open tap-in for 135th career tally.
Keane put himself on the score sheet in the 64th minute when he capitalized on Sheanon Williams’ errant back pass to Zac MacMath and was able to nutmeg the Union goalkeeper.
Two minutes before subbing out, Donovan went two ahead of Jeff Cunningham’s career total with another one-two sequence with Keane.
The Union scored a consolation goal in the final minutes when Raul Mendiola knocked over Zach Pfeffer in the box and Maurice Edu, another cut from the U.S. preliminary World Cup squad, converted the resulting penalty.
GOALS OF THE WEEK
Keane earns the top honors this week for his opener against FC Dallas on Wednesday. The captain received a cross-field pass from Gyasi Zardes and showed his world class composure by weaving past two defenders and threading his left-footed shot from the top of the box. Check out how easy the Irishman made it look.
The runners up this week include Shane O’Neill, who is set to collect a new video game from teammate Chris Klute with his career-first goal, a precise blast into the top-left corner in the Colorado Rapids 4-1 win over the Montreal Impact.
Erik Hurtado’s silky dribbling and slammed shot in the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-2 home draw with the Seattle Sounders, which probably would have been goal of the week had the defending and keeping been a little more competitive.
HOME EARLY FROM CAMP
While Donovan made it clear after the game that his fantastic performance wasn’t to try to make a statement about last week’s shocking news, it can’t help but serve as an exclamation point when paired up with yesterday morning’s interview, when the veteran summed up the the decision as “surprising and disappointing."
Along with Donovan and Edu, three other MLS stars received the bad news on Wednesday. Here’s how they fared in their first games back.
Brad Evans came on for the injured Djimi Traore and played 34 minutes as both center and right back in Seattle’s exciting Cascadia Cup fixture at Vancouver.
Columbus Crew defender Michael Parkhurst also entered as a sub in the 87th minute of his team’s 2-0 home win against the Chicago Fire.
Center Back Clarence Goodson, who, despite being a tacit individual, voiced his disappointment at being dropped by Klinsmann, suited up for the San Jose Earthquakes’ 3-0 demolition of the Houston Dynamo but did not come off the bench.
STANDINGS AND STATS
In the Eastern Conference, New England’s 2-1 win over D.C. United on Saturday put the Revs further ahead of Sporting KC, which could only manage a 2-2 draw against Toronto FC the day before. Draws for both Seattle and Real Salt Lake meant no change in the gap between the Western Conference’s top two teams.
Two Englishmen now head up the MLS goal scorer rankings this season—and neither is named Jermaine Defoe. New York Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the opener in his side’s 2-1 home loss to the Portland Timbers, raising his total to 10 this season. He is joined at the top by Dom Dwyer, who scored both of SKC’s goals in the team’s 2-2 draw against Toronto FC on Friday. Clint Dempsey and Chivas USA’s Erik Torres are both next with eight goals, and Keane is one behind them.
OTHER NEWS AND EVENTS
With six in his last four, Dwyer is the most in-form striker in the league. Friday’s brace made the forward only the third player in SKC’s history to score in four straight matches and he is now one shy of tying the record set by Preki in 1996. Winless in its last three games, the side will probably be banking on the 23-year-old’s red hot form to turn its fortunes around tomorrow against New York.
SKC’s task will be made even more difficult by the worsening of the side’s defensive injury crisis. In Saturday’s game, right back Chance Myers ruptured the Achilles tendon in his left ankle and has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
Saturday certainly won’t go down as Sebastian Frei’s best performance between the sticks. In addition to conceding the first goal to Hurtado, he was culpable for the second goal with this pretty dazzling howler of a clearance.
The Revs now have five wins in a row and will look to extend that run this Saturday in Montreal. The woeful impact have the lowest point total in the MLS this season—seven.
Real Salt Lake’s 0-0 draw against out-of-form FC Dallas (winless in seven) may have felt like two points lost but the Utah side has now tied the record for the longest unbeaten start an MLS season. Previously only the Galaxy had gone unbeaten through 12 contests, in 2010 and 1996.
Nick Kariuki is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.