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Landon Donovan + Robbie Keane = getting it done

May 17, 2013, 5:35 PM EDT

Donovan-Keane 2

File this under “Clearly no coincidence.”

Landon Donovan has played two five-star rated matches since his return to the Galaxy lineup. Both of them happened to be matches in which Robbie Keane started alongside.

No offense to the young men filling here and there for the Irish international who meant so much to last year’s MLS Cup defense, nor to Mike Magee. But none of them are Robbie Keane.

So when we consider Donovan and his place in the U.S. game – And aren’t we all spending significant time these days biting into the gooey center of that one? – that part needs to be part of the equation. So far, he’s been all that and a Big Gulp alongside Keane … but perhaps just a small glass of water without the veteran Irishman.

Donovan had a goal and an assist as the Galaxy put a proper ground and pound on Sporting Kansas City on April 20. Keane’s iffy ankle kept him from starting again until Wednesday, when Donovan had a goal and two assists in a splashy 4-1 win at Philadelphia.

(MORE: Donovan should be past U.S. national team litmus tests)

If you identified the champs’ best pair of wins this year, those would be it. One dominant win over in-form (but a bit tired, in all fairness) Sporting KC, and a three-goal victory on the road, at a decent, if young Union side? Yep … that’ll do.

Those are the two matches in 2013 in which Donovan and Keane have both started. We’ve said it time and again, but it deserves to be noted yet again … Keane’s astute movement off the ball is about the best in MLS, or the best this side of Thierry Henry, at least.

Donovan certainly recognizes it … and then some:

I think everybody can see the difference [when Keane is on the field]. It’s not just the goals or the passing, but he occupies people. So when he’s not on the field, it’s easier for teams to key on a few of us. But when he is on the field, they have to worry about him, and that opens up a lot of space for the rest of us. And then if we’re good in the attacking third, we’re going to score goals.”

  1. talgrath - May 17, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    I have said this all along about the “controversy”, Landon isn’t back to full form, yet and he might not ever be. I think Landon will eventually get back in form, but he isn’t there yet; the USMNT made the right decision.

    • mdac1012 - May 18, 2013 at 9:47 AM

      Totally agree, Landon has to earn himself a spot back on the team. This World Cup qualifying season is very important and Landon left the team at a critical time to “go find himself.” That was his right, but the world doesn’t stop for him and the team had to move on. If he regains his form, he deserves a spot, doesn’t deserve the captaincy anymore as far as I am concerned. A true leader wouldn’t leave their team in the middle of such an important run.

      Steve, I wouldn’t say Landon’s last game was a 5 star game. He had a 5 star second half, and a bad first half. That back pass to an opposing attacker right in front of his own goal could have been a disaster if it were converted.

      I do agree that he and Keane are the best tandem to watch when they are clicking. They have great anticipation of each others moves and when Landon has his head in the game, his quality comes through. Keane, always seems to be thinking two moves ahead of everyone else on the pitch.

  2. Dan Haug - May 18, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    @talgrath… He dhouldn’t have to get back to his old form to make it to the USMNT. He just needs to be better than any one of the guys brought in a head of him. Can you honestly say that he has not been better than Eddie Johnson, Brad Davis, Joe Carona, Stuart Holden, and Danny Williams (all guys who are potential wide midfielders for the USMNT)?

    @mdac1012… Donovan had a VERY good game against the Union. Even in the first half he created the opening goal with a dispossession followed by a surging run to the end-line and a cross that the defender had no choice but to clear over the end-line for a corner. Then, of course he put the corner in a great spot. Throughout the half he made a number of decisive runs, and was heavily involved in the high-pressure that LA applied (consistent with his positioning in the midfield). Yes… he made that horrendous back pass, but if you look at his optistats, they credit him with 149 events throughout the game… The next highest number for LA was Keane with 85. In the second half, most of his attacking productivity came after he was moved up to forward in the 60th minute.

    Donovan does have to live with the consequences of his time away, one of which is that it is taking him some time to round into form , and another of which is that he has clearly lost the faith of Klinsman. However, he had an outstanding match, and I think it’s very tough to argue that, based on current form, he shouldn’t be in camp with the USMNT when it starts next weekend.

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