Where Landon Donovan’s afternoon takes us in the ongoing U.S. national team debate
This Landon Donovan debate regarding his place on the national team isn’t going anywhere. It will hang in the air like paint fumes – mostly benign, but still a bit bothersome – as the U.S. camp opens next week in Cleveland ahead of a busy late-spring bloom of friendlies and World Cup qualifiers.
As such, each and every match Donovan plays for the Galaxy between then and now becomes a referendum of sorts, another exhibit of evidence one way or the other on Jurgen Klinsmann’s choice to leave him off the roster.
So how did the program’s all-time leading scorer do in Sunday’s nationally televised matchup, the LA Galaxy’s 1-0 loss to New York? (More on the match itself shortly at ProSoccerTalk ... so check back.)
This one isn’t going to move the argument one way or the other.
Donovan started on the left side of the visitors’ midfield but was not a particularly huge influence as Bruce Arena’s men from L.A. kept their foot on the game early. Juninho’s injury for L.A. and subsequent departure later in the half changed things, as Fabian Espindola and Thierry Henry found their way into the game for New York.
Donovan was even less a factor from there.
More of the same after the break. Donovan moved up front to partner with Robbie Keane for the last half-hour, but other than breaking free to send one unchallenged screamer just high over New York goal, there wasn’t much to talk about.
Playing on the road for the second time on the road in four days, the Galaxy looked a bit pooped – and without an answer for Red Bulls center back Jamison Olave, who was dominant.
Gyasi Zardes, who came in for Donovan on the left, made more happen than his far more experienced teammate.
Within the broader outlook, Sunday’s performance is right in line with his time on the field in 2013, which has been a real mixed bag. He was sensational a couple of weeks ago against Sporting Kansas City and then rather quiet in three subsequent starts.
Around that Sporting KC breakout, Donovan did miss two important penalty kicks – shocking, really, considering that Donovan from the spot was once as automatic as illumination at the flick of a light switch.
Then came Donovan’s second breakout, his big mid-week performance in a 4-1 win at Philadelphia. Effusive praise poured in as Donovan collected a goal and an assist while Bruce Arena’s team cut up the Union at PPL Park.