Nine years ago today, the landscape of MLS and the LA Galaxy changed forever.
On March 31, 2005, the Galaxy made a giant splash by acquiring U.S. National Team star Landon Donovan in a move that would eventually result in three MLS Cup titles for LA.
As we look back on Donovan’s nine years with the Galaxy, we count down the top five most important moments for the 32-year-old with the LA Galaxy.
5. Galaxy Player for Life: Landon Donovan re-signs with LA in his “final contract”
“This is home for me … and I want to be in L.A.” – Landon Donovan
Last August, Landon Donovan affirmed that he will be an LA Galaxy player for life when he re-signed a multi-year contract extension with the Galaxy that he admits will keep with LA for the rest of his career.
Not only will Donovan’s deal keep him with the Galaxy for the foreseeable future, but it also paved the way for other U.S. National Team stars to return stateside. Over the past year, U.S. stalwarts like Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Omar Gonzalez have all mentioned Donovan’s willingness to stay with the Galaxy as being part of the reason that they chose to play in MLS.
4. Landon Donovan resurrects the Galaxy with 2009 MLS MVP performance
At the start of the 2009 MLS Regular Season, the LA Galaxy were in dire straits after missing the postseason for three consecutive seasons and finishing dead last in the Western Conference a year prior. But LA returned to prominence thanks to an MLS MVP season from Landon Donovan.
Donovan was awarded the 2009 MLS MVP after aiding the Galaxy finish with the best record in the Western Conference with 12 goals and six assists despite missing a month of action as he led the U.S. National Team to the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup final in South Africa. With Donovan leading the charge in what was a tumultuous year for the forward personally, the Galaxy returned to the postseason for the first time since the 2005 season as the club began their streak of five consecutive MLS Cup Playoff appearances.
Although the season ended in heartbreak with a penalty kick shootout loss to Real Salt Lake in the 2009 MLS Cup, Donovan’s performances helped LA return to the top tier of MLS.
3. Landon Donovan comes up big yet again to deliver 2012 MLS Cup
The 2012 MLS regular season and the 2012 MLS Cup could have been remembered very differently for the LA Galaxy if not for Donovan’s heroics.
In a start that was symbolic of their rocky start to the season, the Galaxy went into the locker room at half time of the 2012 MLS Cup down a goal to the visiting Houston Dynamo. Donovan found himself bearing the brunt of the supporters' scorn after the LA star suffered a shocking missing chance prior to Calen Carr’s opener for the Dynamo.
But as he did time and time again in a season that saw him tally 11 goals and 17 assists, the Galaxy captain would come up big. Moments after Omar Gonzalez equalized the match in the 60th minute, Donovan came through in the clutch once more by scoring the eventual game-winning goal that sealed LA’s fourth MLS Cup title.
2. The Missing Link: Landon Donovan helps the Galaxy win the double in first year with the club
The Landon Donovan era started off slowly but ultimately ended in silverware for the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Amid a difficult regular season campaign, Donovan helped Los Angeles win their first trophy of his Galaxy career less than six months after signing as they defeated FC Dallas to win the 2005 U.S. Open Cup in the team’s first-ever cup final in Carson.
Donovan helped the Galaxy complete the double in November when he tallied four goals and one assist in postseason play as the Galaxy capped off a remarkable playoff run with a 2005 MLS Cup victory over the powerhouse New England Revolution thanks to an extra time goal from Guatemalan attacker Pando Ramirez.
1. Taking it on his Own: Lifting the LA Galaxy to their 2011 MLS Cup triumph.
Landon Donovan helped the LA Galaxy cap a storybook season with a brilliant goal that kick started LA’s run of consecutive MLS Cup championships.
The Galaxy were the league’s most dominant side in the regular season as they took home the 2011 Supporters’ Shield and then marched through the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs setting up an MLS Cup date with the Houston Dynamo at the StubHub Center. In the 72nd minute, Donovan finished a gorgeous build-up by the Galaxy that included touches from all three of the club’s Designated Players to give the Galaxy their third MLS Cup title.
For his game-winner, Donovan was awarded the 2011 MLS Cup MVP for the second time in his illustrious career.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com