Skip to content

PST USMNT Man of the Match: Landon Donovan

Jun 8, 2012, 9:39 PM EDT

United States v Canada Getty Images

Landon Donovan’s racked up a lot of miles. He started playing professionally at the age of 17. In the 13 years that’ve followed, he’s made 141 appearances for his national team. Having gone through so many battles, you can forgive him if, at times, he doesn’t look like the same spry attcaker we saw at World Cup 2002.

But every once in a while, Donovan can turn back the clock. For 90 minutes, he can be the quickest man on the field. Add that to his ability to read the game and you have a combination that can define games in this part of the world.

It would be a stretch to say Donovan defined tonight’s 3-1 win over Antigua and Barbuda, but with most of the U.S. Men’s National Team struggling to impose themselves (on an opponent that insisted on being an imposition), the U.S. surprisingly needed one of Donovan’s turn back the block nights. One step ahead and two steps faster than everybody else on the field, Donovan played in part in all three goals as a flat United States took full points from their World Cup 2014 qualifier.

It began in the eighth minute, with Donovan drilling a corner to just outside the six. The play that followed ended in Carlos Bocanegra’s 13th career international goal. While most of the work was done after the kick, the play foreshadowed a night of good service from Donovan, who whipped in a vicious first half restart that Clarence Goodson nearly hammered home.

With the U.S. struggling to find a second goal before half, Donovan made his most significant contribution of the night. Working with Clint Dempsey on the left side, Donovan burst past Antigua and Barbuda’s defenders onto a ball in the left of the penalty area. A panicked Marvin McCoy took him down, leading to Clint Dempsey’s (ultimately) game winning goal.

After the visitors pulled one back, Donovan started the play that led to the U.S.’s final goal. Breaking through the left side of Antigua and Barbuda’s defense, Donovan got behind the line, turned the defense and cut a ball back to the top of the box. The ball eventually found its way to Herculez Gomez, who gave the U.S. its final margin of victory.

It wasn’t a perfect night for Donovan. On a couple of clear second half chances, Donovan bought into the team’s frustrating refusal to put the ball on goal. Two times he demurred, playing the ball into the six. Two times he made life easy on his opponents.

But late in the game, in a similar situation, Donovan’s instincts served him well. Forced to take a ball toward the line, he put a ball back into the six that nearly forced an own goal.

Donovan didn’t need a perfect night to be the team’s best man. In a game where his teammates underwhelmed, he was one of the few players who showed a desire to dominate his opponent. Be it on the right, left, or standing over dead balls, the U.S.’s all-time leading scorer led by example. Had the rest of the team match his effort, the U.S. would have posted the lopsided result fans were expecting.

With apologies to Carlos Bocanegra (who scored an played a strong emergency left back), Donovan was the U.S.’s best player. Again.

Latest Posts
  1. MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 0-0 Sporting Kansas City

    May 24, 2015, 12:10 AM EDT

    Benny Feilhaber, Sporting Kansas City Benny Feilhaber, Sporting Kansas City

    To grind out a point in Sporting KC’s current predicament is impressive, but the Sounders were very, very poor.

  2. MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 2-1 FC Dallas

    May 23, 2015, 10:06 PM EDT

    Jack McInerney, Montreal Impact Jack McInerney, Montreal Impact

    Last-place beats 1st-place — in other words, just another typical night in MLS!

  3. MLS Snapshot: New England Revolution 1-1 D.C. United

    May 23, 2015, 9:40 PM EDT

    Jermaine Jones, New England Revolution Jermaine Jones, New England Revolution

    Two New England red cards changed the course of the game, which allowed the D.C. to claw back and steal a point (barely).

  4. MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC 1-0 Portland Timbers

    May 23, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC

    At what point is it no longer “early, still plenty of time” for the Timbers? We’re almost there.

  5. La Liga & Serie A roundup: Ronaldo hat trick as Real Madrid score 7; Juventus top Napoli

    May 23, 2015, 6:09 PM EDT

    Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF

    The final day of the La Liga season is in the books. Who finished where, and who was relegated?

  6. VIDEO: Xavi Hernandez makes his final Camp Nou exit with tears in his eyes

    May 23, 2015, 4:19 PM EDT

    Xavi Hernandez, FC Barcelona Getty Images

    After 17 year at Barcelona, Xavi will leave the club this summer. On Saturday, he said his final farewell to the Camp Nou.

  7. Premier League Sunday preview: One last time, with feeling (and drama… and dread)

    May 23, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    HULL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 31:  Daryl Janmaat of Newcastle United battles with Sone Aluko of Hull City during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Newcastle United at KC Stadium on January 31, 2015 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images) Getty Images

    All 10 matches will be on the NBC family of networks, so be sure to click and find out where your club is featuring come 10 a.m. Sunday.

  8. Hull City’s Meyler on relegation scrap: “Pressure is for tires”

    May 23, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    during the Barclays Premier League match between  Tottenham Hotspur and Hull City at White Hart Lane on May 16, 2015 in London, England. Getty Images

    “We know we need to win it and we know we’re more than capable of doing that,” Meyler said.

  9. Newcastle’s Carver on relegation fight: “I can’t believe it’s come to the this”

    May 23, 2015, 1:45 PM EDT

    cD05ODdlNmNhY2MwMjRlZWQzNTJhM2ViYTQ1Y2VlY2YzOCZnPWI4ZGU3YTY4NDkzMTE1ODIzYzY1NzdlZWIyY2M3ZTE0 Getty Images

    Carver’s bunch has played lackluster football while being waxed by clubs from the top and bottom of the table.

  10. Dortmund exec: Chelsea wouldn’t sell us De Bruyne because they were salty over Lewandowski

    May 23, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    DeBruyne AP

    Would the Blues still be champions with Lewandowski over Costa? Or would they have bought both and run rampant over Europe?

  11. Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Tension galore as finale arrives

    May 23, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    Newcastle United v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor predicts the scores for Week 38.

  12. Report: Ancelotti already knows he’s likely been sacked by Real Madrid

    May 23, 2015, 11:57 AM EDT

    Ancelotti Getty Images

    The Real Madrid president reportedly met with Ancelotti’s agent to tell him they are likely going to part ways.

  13. Freiberg, Paderborn relegated from Bundesliga, Hamburg in yet another playoff

    May 23, 2015, 11:32 AM EDT

    Stuttgart Getty Images

    Stuttgart won big to earn safety and send Hamburg to another nerve-wracking playoff.

  14. Borussia Dortmund fans pay tribute to Jurgen Klopp with massive tifo

    May 23, 2015, 10:25 AM EDT

    Klopp Getty Images

    The final home match for one of Dortmund’s most successful managers is looking to be a special one at Westfalenstadion.

  15. Report: Robin van Persie offered gigantic contract by Qatari club

    May 23, 2015, 9:34 AM EDT

    VanPersie Getty Images

    The future of Robin van Persie at Old Trafford is very much in doubt as a former Premier League manager has given the Dutchman a very tough decision.

  16. Sami Khedira confirms the obvious, that he will leave Real Madrid this summer

    May 23, 2015, 8:50 AM EDT

    Khedira Getty Images

    We all knew it already, but Sami Khedira will leave Real Madrid after five seasons. Where will he land?

  17. Premier League scenarios: Europa League and relegation requirements

    May 23, 2015, 8:18 AM EDT

    HullCity Getty Images

    How can Hull City or Newcastle avoid relegation? Who will qualify for the Europa League? Find out all the scenarios for the final day here.

  18. MLS Snapshot: Columbus Crew 2-2 Chicago Fire

    May 22, 2015, 10:31 PM EDT

    Toronto FC v Chicago Fire Getty Images

    Final: Columbus Crew 2-2 Chicago Fire

Featured video

PST Extra: Relegation drama on final day