LA Galaxy Insider Year in Review: Landon Donovan
Now that the 2013 season is over, LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano will look back on the season for every player who was on the club’s roster at some point during the season.
The LA Galaxy Insider Year in Review will begin with players who made the least number of appearances for the club in all official competitions over the course of the year, starting with Brian Perk and Bryan Gaul, who did not make any appearances for the first team this year, and concluding with midfielder Marcelo Sarvas who played in a team-best 42 games for LA this year. There will also be an evaluation of head coach and general manager Bruce Arena and his moves at the conclusion of the list.
We will have one or two evaluations per day and focus on what each player did well and what challenges they faced in 2013 as well as a select thought from the player on their performance and an overall assessment of their season from myself.
APPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS FOR THE GALAXY: GP: 27 (22 in MLS Regular Season, three in CONCACAF Champions League, two in MLS Cup Playoffs); GS: 24 (21 in MLS Regular Season, two in MLS Cup Playoffs and one in CONCACAF Champions League); G: 10 (All in MLS regular season); A: 9 (All in MLS Regular Season)
APPERANCES IN GUINNESS INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONS CUP: GP: 2; G: 1
HIGHLIGHTS: Landon Donovan rejoined the LA Galaxy after his break from soccer on March 28 and immediately set about returning to his lofty form. It took Donovan just three league games to regain his scoring touch as he notched a goal and an assist in the Galaxy’s 2-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City on April 20. Following that strong performance, Donovan became a fixture in LA’s lineup, earning a place in the starting XI for 10 of the team’s next 11 league matches before departing for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Fueled by a Golden Ball winning performance at that tournament and a strong showing in the Guinness International Champions Cup, Donovan truly ramped up his production in the final three months of the season. During LA’s final 12 league games, Donovan scored seven of his 10 goals on the season and added three assists as he pulled level with Jeff Cunningham’s all-time MLS regular season goal scoring record of 134 goals. However, no performance was more remarkable than his dominating showing on Aug. 11 when he tallied the fourth hat trick of his illustrious career in LA’s 3-3 draw with FC Dallas. Donovan also added another highlight in September as he re-signed a new multi-year contact with the Galaxy that should keep him with the club for the foreseeable future.
CHALLENGES: Although Donovan returned to his peak at the end of the summer, he dealt with inconsistent form—to Donovan’s lofty standards—upon returning from his break from the sport. Despite this, Donovan still rattled off three goals and six assists in league before joining the U.S. squad at the Gold Cup. Unfortunately for the Galaxy and Donovan, he suffered his most challenging two games of the season during LA’s Western Conference Semifinal series against Real Salt Lake. In the first leg, Donovan was able to repeatedly beat the RSL defense, but his finishing touch eluded him, leaving LA unable to add to their 1-0 first leg advantage. Four days later, Donovan was blanketed by Salt Lake defense and was unable to score the goal that LA needed to extend their season for a few more weeks. In the 65th minute of that game, Donovan was presented with LA’s best scoring opportunity of the night, but his close range shot was saved by a sprawling Nick Rimando.
HIS THOUGHTS: “I will be ready [next season], I know that. There’s no excuse for our team not to be ready. We know that in the past, we’ve been pushing it a little close by playing deep into the season so that you didn’t feel like you received adequate rest, but we don’t have that excuse this year. It’s going to be potentially a very packed year for me personally, but from the team side, it’ll be lighter because we don’t travel as much or have Champions League. There’s no excuses.”
OVERVIEW: A year ago, Landon Donovan’s career was up in the air, but after a successful season, the he has been reinvigorated and ready to head into an important 2014 where he’ll try to help LA return to the league summit and lead the U.S. at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. How he deals with that packed schedule will impact a Galaxy squad who were heavily reliant on the production of Donovan and fellow striker Robbie Keane during the 2013 season. Although 2014 promises to be a challenging season as the Galaxy look to reclaim the MLS Cup, Donovan’s presence and production should keep the Galaxy competitive.
POLL: How would you rate Landon Donovan’s 2013 season?
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com