By IVES GALARCEP
Landon Donovan said recently he wasn’t quite all the way back to his best, but on Wednesday night it was clear he is heading in that direction.
The Los Angeles Galaxy star scored a goal, assisted on two others, and forced an own goal with a quality corner kick to help lead the Galaxy to a 4-1 mauling of the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night at PPL Park.
Just one day after a Sports Illustrated report claimed that Donovan would be left out of the upcoming U.S. Men’s National Team camp, Donovan put on a performance that served as a reminder of the quality he can still bring to a game. He broke open a match that was tied until the 71st minute.
That is when the floodgates opened, and Donovan tore apart the Union defense.
Robbie Keane made the score 2-1 when he took a Donovan pass and scored from 10 yards out. Just nine minutes later, Donovan played provider again, setting up Hector Jimenez with another quality chance from 12 yards out to make the score 3-1.
Donovan capped his night with an 87th minute finish set up by Keane, who found Donovan alone on the right side of the area. Donovan calmly rounded Zac MacMath for the final goal of the night.
The evening opened with an early Galaxy goal courtesy of a MacMath own goal off a Donovan corner kick. Donovan’s kick floated toward the goal mouth, where Bakary Soumare had Omar Gonzalez wrapped up. As Gonzalez fought to escape Soumare’s grasp, he wound up holding down MacMath’s arms as MacMath attempted to catch the corner. Instead, Donovan’s corner caromed off MacMath’s head into his own net.
Amobi Okugo tied things up in the 23rd minute when he slipped inside the six-yard box unmarked and headed home a perfect long throw-in from Sheanon Williams.
That goal gave the Union some confidence, and they enjoyed the better of the play heading into halftime, but never found another goal and their defense simply fell apart in the final 20 minutes of the match.
What went wrong for the Union? Their midfield began to give the Galaxy space in front of the defense, which Donovan exploited. That, coupled with a series of terrible defensive efforts from left back Ray Gaddis, left the door open for all three second-half goals to come in the same area of the field, on the left side of the penalty area.
The terrible finish spoiled a promising first Union start for Brazilian World Cup-winner Kleberson, who looked sharp at times, though he began to tire in the matches final 20 minutes, a development that played a part in the Union’s late-game collapse.
The Galaxy will look to ride some momentum into Sunday’s showdown with Eastern Conference-leading New York Red Bulls. The Union will try to regroup with a win against the Chicago Fire on Saturday.
What did you think of the match? Impressed with Donovan’s performance? Think he should be called up? Encouraged by Kleberson’s first start?
Share your thoughts below.