Skip to content

What Landon Donovan did last night … THAT is why he will be in Brazil next summer

Jul 17, 2013, 5:18 PM EDT

Landon Donovan, Kenny Cunningham

Costa Rica packed the back, and knew how to make a strategically cynical approach work.

With five defenders and four midfielders organized tightly in front of them, there was precious little operating space for U.S. attackers Tuesday in Hartford. The occasional cross got through, but generally arrived with negligible threat.

As I said last night, U.S. problem solvers were in short supply. Jose Torres seemed to have something crafty in him before the break, but then ran out of energy or lost initiative or something. Stuart Holden didn’t appear to have the legs or the confidence to launch the late runs that tend to sew confusion and leave someone open somewhere.

The U.S. right side (Michael Parkhurst and Alejandro Bedoya) was a big bundle of “Meh.”

But the breakthrough did arrive … and it came off Landon Donovan’s alert mind and his smooth right foot. Credit Brek Shea for a lung-busting run of faith, one that so many players might not have seen or might not have attempted in a match that never meant much to the ongoing tournament. (Although, as we know, these moments certainly could mean something in the ongoing, bigger picture player evaluations.)

But the goal was really about Donovan – and that is why the national team’s all-time leading scorer and assist man will be in Brazil next year. Book it. (All this with the usual caveat of injury, obviously.)

(MORE: U.S. beats Costa Rica on late Donovan-Shea hookup)

(MORE: What else we learned from Tuesday’s U.S. win)

Donovan is a game-changer. Period. Even when he’s not at his best, that is the kind of moment he, and precious few others in the U.S. pool, can manufacture.

Do not underestimate the savvy elements of that one pass:

  • The vision to know that Shea was there.
  • The confidence to try a 40-yard pass on a first-time hit; so many lesser players would have taken a controlling touch, a less aggressive and safer course of action – and one that would have likely seen the United States forfeit the initiative.
  • The instant understanding that to allow Costa Rica, which had sent men forward on a set piece attempt, to retreat once again into that defensive crouch would have been throwing away one of the best chances his team had left of finally breaking through.
  • The skill to pull off such a thing. That’s not a terribly difficult ball to hit – but it’s hardly a piece of cake to put it in the right spot. Donovan situated that ball between defenders, out of reach of Costa Rican goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton and into a spot where Shea never had to break stride.

If you watch the video closely, you see U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann point toward Donovan as Joe Corona gets the ball. The manager knows where it needs to go at that point; he understands that Donovan can do something highly productive with it, even if so many others could not.

For Donovan, this Gold Cup was all about proving he can fit in, about proving he has the will and the dedication and that he isn’t just along for the ride.

The ability, the experience and the high-level acumen are still there. Klinsmann knows it; the guy is no dummy.

Moments like that one reiterate it, and reminds us all why getting Donovan’s mind right will mean a lot in Brazil next summer.

Watch the goal one more time:

.

Latest Posts
  1. MLS transfers: Didier Drogba mulling move, Andrea Pirlo “received offer”

    May 25, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT

    article-1202950-05D61EA7000005DC-689_468x357 Reuters

    MLS is reportedly pursing the signatures of Andrea Pirlo and Didier Drogba.

  2. Serie A roundup: Fiorentina qualify for Europa League, Sampdoria fall short

    May 24, 2015, 11:32 PM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C3-FIORENTINA-TRAINING Getty Images

    Roundup of Serie A’s final Sunday of the 2014-15 campaign.

  3. MLS Snapshot: San Jose Earthquakes 1-1 Orlando City SC

    May 24, 2015, 9:28 PM EDT

    Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes Getty Images

    Final: San Jose Earthquakes 1-1 Orlando City SC

  4. West Brom manager Tony Pulis unsure of his team’s possible sale

    May 24, 2015, 8:10 PM EDT

    Swansea City v Crystal Palace - Premier League Getty Images

    Pulis on chairman Jeremy Peace selling West Brom: “I think he wants to get an investor in or someone who can financially take the club onto another level.”

  5. WATCH: Crystal Palace’s top-10 finish “unbelievable”, says Pardew

    May 24, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT

    Alan Pardew, Crystal Palace FC Alan Pardew, Crystal Palace FC

    Alan Pardew has seen Crystal Palace rise to snag a 10th place Premier League finish.

  6. Manuel Pellegrini on speculation of his firing: “I never had any doubt all season”

    May 24, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT

    Manuel Pellegrini, Manchester City FC Getty Images

    Manchester City ended its Premier League season in second place, and manager Manuel Pellegrini is optimistic about his job safety.

  7. Championship playoff final preview: Middlesbrough and Norwich eye Premier League dream

    May 24, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    NorwichMiddlesbrough Getty Images

    With 90 minutes at Wembley to prove they’re worthy of the Premier League, the third and fourth place finishers in the Championship do battle with promotion on the line.

  8. Premier League final day roundup: 2014-15 season finishes with a flourish

    May 24, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    In case you missed anything, here’s what happened on the final day of the PL season.

  9. Report: Schalke has fired Roberto Di Matteo after failing to earn Champions League play

    May 24, 2015, 2:36 PM EDT

    DiMatteo Getty Images

    The club won just three of its final 14 matches, nosediving out of a Champions League position and leaving the manager without a job.

  10. Newcastle’s owner gives rare interview: “From this day forward we will be making our own luck.”

    May 24, 2015, 2:07 PM EDT

    Newcastle United's English owner Mike Ashley (L) smiles with managing director Lee Charnley (R) as he waits for the kick off in the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and West Ham United at St James Park, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, north east England on May 24, 2015. AFP PHOTO / IAN MACNICOL

RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR LIVE SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS.        (Photo credit should read Ian MacNicol/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    This summer will be key, especially if Middlesbrough brings another set of Northeast Derbies to the Premier League. What’s next for Newcastle?

  11. VIDEO: Arsene Wenger pleased after big season-ending win

    May 24, 2015, 1:45 PM EDT

    Wenger Getty Images

    Arsenal finished the season in third place and put on a good showing in their final match of the season.

  12. Brendan Rodgers takes “full responsibility” for Liverpool’s season-ending disaster

    May 24, 2015, 1:04 PM EDT

    Rodgers Getty Images

    The Liverpool manager knows he could have hurt his position today with a 6-1 thumping at the hands of Stoke City on the season’s final day.

  13. VIDEO: John Terry lifts Premier League title as Chelsea’s celebrations begin

    May 24, 2015, 1:03 PM EDT

    Chelsea v Sunderland - Premier League Getty Images

    The Blues hoist the trophy in front of their own fans in west London.

  14. ‘Exhausted’ Bruce after Hull relegation: “My future is for others to decide”

    May 24, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Manchester United at KC Stadium on May 24, 2015 in Hull, England. Getty Images

    Hull spent on Abel Hernandez and others in a relatively splashy summer, but still sink into the second tier.

  15. Newcastle’s Carver: “I want a summer where I can bring in the players I want”

    May 24, 2015, 12:36 PM EDT

    Newcastle United's Argentinian midfielder Jonas Gutierrez (R) celebrates after he scores with Newcastle United's English head coach John Carver (L) during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and West Ham United at St James Park, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, north east England on May 24, 2015. Newcastle won the game 2-0 to avoid relegation. AFP PHOTO / IAN MACNICOL

RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR LIVE SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS.        (Photo credit should read Ian MacNicol/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    A resilient John Carver, buoyed by Newcastle United avoiding the drop, has reiterated his desire to lead the Premier League club.

Featured video

Chelsea lift the 2014-15 PL trophy