SEATTLE – Landon Donovan returned from being snubbed from the U.S. National Team in May with a fury that resulted in him breaking the league’s all-time goal scoring record, but since that banner afternoon in late May, the 32-year-old’s form took a dip.
And he knew it.
With his poor spell of play fresh in mind, it was vital for Donovan to return to his dangerous self in Monday’s clash with Seattle Sounders FC, and that he did as he had a hand in all three Galaxy goals, netting once and adding two assists in LA’s convincing 3-0 victory over the Sounders.
Stationed at left midfield in LA’s flat 4-4-2 formation for the first time in July, Donovan’s movement and interchange overwhelmed Seattle right back DeAndre Yedlin as LA put the home side on the back heel. From that position, Donovan found the freedom to push forward, grabbing his two assists as well as his goal in the 18th minute of play.
Although the correlation between his resurgence and the positional change was there, Donovan dismissed this thinking as too simplistic.
“It was more about my demeanor and my attitude than anything. I had a good week in training. I felt like I hadn’t played well lately and that bothered me,” said Donovan. “I got myself to the point in early May where I was playing very well, and I was at the top of my game, and then the last month or so has been difficult for a lot of reasons and I think my performance dropped off, so I wanted to get back to getting to the top of my game and I felt that way tonight.”
Donovan may not have been willing to attribute his success to his presence in the midfield, Galaxy captain Robbie Keane was happy to oblige the claim.
“Everyone has a spell where they’re not doing too well, but it all it takes is one game to change things around. This was certainly the game for him. He’s played on left wing his entire career and he knows it like the back of his hand,” Keane said. “We tried a different system at the start of the season. Did it work? I’m not too sure. But I certainly feel like the system that we used tonight suited everybody and got the best out of everyone not just a few players.”
Throughout LA’s victory over the Sounders, Donovan was back to his traditionally rambunctious self as he blitzed defenders to force turnovers, tracked back to aid left back Robbie Rogers, made speedy runs behind the defense, and was opportunistic in front of goal.
From start to finish, it was a Donovan performance that has not been seen since the Philadelphia Union match fresh off his World Cup omission and it was that snub that Donovan admits played a role in his lackluster summer form.
“That’s not an easy thing for any player to handle, but mentally it’s my job to do what’s right for this team and to be at my best. I felt really good this week and I feel like I’m starting to play well again,” he said. “I really pushed myself to be playing well in April and May of this year, and I was, and then I just dropped off a little bit. It’s important for me to get back to that. Again, this is only one night and it’s got to continue. That’s what’s expected of me, and that’s what I expect of myself.”
And if LA is to return to the summit then Donovan’s Galaxy teammates expect him to be at his best.
“If we want to win a championship, we need Landon to be performing well and enjoy himself,” said Rogers. “He’s such a big part of what we do that when he plays the way that he does today then were unstoppable.”