CHESTER, Pa. -- Many wondered if Landon Donovan would take the field at PPL Park on Wednesday with something to prove. The LA Galaxy had dropped two straight with the forward playing far from his best and Donovan’s name was frequently bandied about in conversations regarding the U.S. National Team.
Well, if he did have a chip on his shoulder, he responded magnificently with his best performance of 2013 with one goal and two assists in the LA Galaxy’s 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union. In all stages of the game, Donovan was superb as he consistently strung together dangerous passes in the attacking third while also serving as a nuisance on the defensive side of the ball.
“It always feels good to play well and tonight I felt like I was back to my old self,” Donovan told reporters. “And always a goal is nice but I think just being aggressive and running at people, making a difference that way felt like the old me and it was nice to play that way again.”
Perhaps it is fate that Donovan would play like his old self on the night when he became the fourth player in LA Galaxy history to play 200 regular season games for the club. Donovan joined the likes of Cobi Jones, Kevin Hartman and Mauricio Cienfuegos on that distinguished list.
Throughout the match, you saw plenty of that vintage Donovan as his darting runs behind the defense and clever balls forward frequently caused havoc for the Union back line. His greatest success came in the second half when he was pushed up top alongside Robbie Keane and given greater attacking responsibilities.
Donovan came alive in the last 19 minutes of the match as he sprung Robbie Keane for the game-winning goal in the 71st minute and, nine minutes later, he assisted on Hector Jimenez’s finish that put the game out of reach. In fact, had his corner kick in the third minute not gone off the face of Zac MacMath for an own goal, Donovan would have earned three assists on the night.
Donovan was not to be denied a goal of his own in the 87th minute, finishing a pass from Keane that sent him alone on goal and past MacMath for his second goal of the season.
“My suspicion is he [Landon Donovan] is a very good player and so it’s just a matter of time where he is going to get his touch back, his confidence, and his fitness on a more consistent basis,” said head coach Bruce Arena.” We’d like to believe that that is going to start now. His second half was real good, he got a little tired in the first half which is natural in these second games but I thought his second half was spectacular.”
Arena was not the only one who had plenty of praise for Donovan after his finest performance of 2013.
“Landon was great. Assists and goals, back to what he does and that’s what he’s always done for us,” defender Todd Dunivant said. “We have all the faith in the world that he’s going to be the Landon that he’s always been, but it takes time and you’re starting to see more of it.”
As for the U.S. National Team speculation that is certain to swirl after his stellar showing against the Union. Donovan is quick to put it behind him as he focuses on stringing together strong performances with the Galaxy, starting with Sunday’s match against the New York Red Bulls.
“I am just trying to play well; I can’t control what else happens,” Donovan said. “My job is to play well, I haven’t played well for a few weeks now and I want to use this and continue to play well. That’s all I can control.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com