Landon Donovan pulls level with Jeff Cunningham for MLS goal scoring record, but admits the focus is on winning another title
CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan's status as an MLS immortal is already solidified, but on Sunday, he went even further to etch his name in the league’s record books by tying Jeff Cunningham’s all-time regular season goal scoring record.
Donovan tied Cunningham’s mark of 134 with two tallies in the LA Galaxy’s 5-0 SuperClasico victory over Chivas USA on Sunday. The goals were vintage Donovan as showcased both his opportunic nature—through his tap in on a Gyasi Zardes cross in the 23rd minute —and his class—a stunning chip of goalkeeper Dan Kennedy in the 41st—minute in both of his finishes.
Ever a professional, Donovan admitted that tying the storied goal record didn’t register at first, but he soon realized the enormity of the moment.
“If this had happened earlier in my career, I would have thought about it more, but we’re in a playoff race, so for us, right now, it’s about winning. But at half time, it hit me and I realized it,” said Donovan. “I’ll sit and think about it at some point, but for now I want to keep going.”
The achievement adds to Donovan’s illustrious career as he is already the all-time MLS postseason goals leader with 22 and the all-time leading scorer for the U.S. National Team. Donovan is also currently second all-time in assists with 116, 19 behind Steve Ralston.
Due to the magnitude of the accomplishment, Donovan’s Galaxy teammates were full of praise for the goal scorer.
“I am extremely happy for him,” said defender Omar Gonzalez. “He’s done so much in his career and now he’s close to being the highest goal scorer in this league so that’s really exciting and hopefully we can that for him soon and get that out of the way and then continue to just focus on playoffs.”
“It feels wonderful…to contribute to him breaking records,” added Gyasi Zardes, who tallied a goal and two assists in the win. “I’ll do my best to keep playing well so he can continue to break more records.”
When Donovan will get his chance to break the record is still up in the air at this point. After being called up for the U.S. National Team on Sunday, Donovan and teammate Gonzalez are slated to be available for the U.S. World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica on Oct. 11 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. and Panama on Oct. 15 in Panama City.
Whether Donovan is able to play in the Galaxy’s Oct. 16 match against the Montreal Impact still remains a question. However, with the U.S. already possessing a ticket to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann could release Donovan and Gonzalez early due to the importance of the club schedule.
If given the opportunity by Klinsmann to skip the Panama match in favor of a return to StubHub Center would he do it? Of course.
“I’ll let him and [Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena] figure it that out. Obviously, we have a game that means something here and a game that for us is relatively meaningless in Panama,” said Donovan. “On balance, I’d want to help the team that needs it, but if I’m asked to stay then I’m more than happy to do that too. We’ll see what happens.”
Ultimately though, Donovan simply wants to get the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the record in the rearview mirror and focus solely on helping the Galaxy to a third consecutive MLS Cup.
“It would be nice to get [the record] and get it of the way, so that there’s no attention on it,” admitted Donovan. “I would trade maybe not all of [the goals] but most of them for another championship ring, so hopefully, we do that.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com