As soon as the news broke that Landon Donovan was left off the USMNT’s 23-man World Cup roster, the Union’s match against the L.A. Galaxy (4-3-3) Sunday became more than just your normal soccer match.
Not only did Donovan break the MLS scoring record with his 135th and 136th career goals in a 4-1 rout of the Union, but he did so with the same heart and class which has made him such a beloved athlete in the United States during his 14-year career.
The crowd peppered Donovan with chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” in disapproval of USA manager Jürgen Klinsmann’s decision last week to keep him off the final roster. Donovan took notice of the support he’s received throughout the week during this tough time.
“It’s incredible,” said Donovan. “You have no idea how many messages I’ve received — literally, thousands of messages from people around the country, around the world. People who’ve said, ‘I’m a diehard Sounders fan, I’m a diehard D.C. United fan — I’ve hated you all my life on the field, but I’m so happy for you…’ The support has been overwhelming.”
Donovan is the USMNT all-time leader in caps (156), goals (57) and World Cup goals (5). His teammates, although sympathetic for him, were happy to have him back in uniform.
“It’s probably a relief for him to be back,” said Galaxy forward Robbie Keane. “After all the nonsense that was going around in the last few days, he probably was just happy to be back on the field and just playing. I think you could see that in his performance and how hungry he was for the team. Obviously, it was fitting for him to score two goals.”
The Union (2-7-5) have a lot of things to figure out before being competitive again. They remain in Los Angeles in preparation for Chivas USA (2-5-4) on Saturday. They’ve allowed nine goals in their past two matches.
“We dug a hole for ourselves,” said Union midfielder Maurice Edu. “Somehow and some way we have to find a way to stick together and find a way to get out of it.”
The game will air at 10:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.