Photo by Jane Gershovich/Soccer By Ives
BY MIKE DONOVAN
PORTLAND, Ore.- Since making his debut for the U.S. men’s national team in 2000, Landon Donovan has had a career that has seen him rewrite the record books time and time again.
Tuesday night at Jeld-Wen Field, he continued his assault as he became the first American with 50 assists and the first international player to ever have 50 goals and 50 assists in a career. His goal and two assists were key in the U.S. team’s 6-0 rout of Belize, and his goal made Donovan the first player to score in six different CONCACAF Gold Cups.
The accomplishments are just another notch on the belt of the most accomplished male player in American soccer history.
“I’m proud of it, but it’s better that it comes in a win,” said Donovan.
After a quiet first half, Donovan found loads of space in the second half. His first assist of the match came on a simple space-finding pass to a wide open Stuart Holden. Donovan then got another assist when his free kick found the head of Michael Orozco-Fiscal.
Donovan is now at 51 assists for his career and has been at the top of the assist charts for the USMNT since 2006, when he surpassed Cobi Jones.
“I’m also very aware that if guys don’t score, you don’t get an assist. I’ve been fortunate to play with a lot of great players,” Donovan said.
On Friday, Donovan became the first American men’s player with 50+ goals in a career after notching two in the 6-0 victory over Guatemala.
But Donovan didn’t stay on 51 goals for long, as he hit home a penalty kick 15 minutes before the final whistle. The PK gave the U.S. its sixth and final goal of the evening and was a cap of a fine performance for a player who is trying to work his way back into Jurgen Klinsmann’s good graces.
It was not lost on Donovan that the game featured stellar efforts from players who have past or present experience in MLS such as Chris Wondolowski and Stuart Holden.
“I think it’s pretty evident that Major League Soccer has pushed the National Team and you are going to see it more and more,” said Donovan, who has played in 294 career MLS games. “You’re going to see more products of our league to continue to push into the national team.”
The match was first of two that will be played in a MLS stadium and Donovan was proud of that factor as well.
“The crowd was great, the energy was great,” Donovan said. “I think it was a great night for us, a great night for the fans and a great start to the tournament.”
Donovan is looking to grab a spot on a fourth consecutive World Cup roster next year. If he is able to do so, he will join Kasey Keller and Claudio Reyna as the only American men to be named to four World Cups.
While that is still a year away, Donovan’s performances during the Gold Cup could go a long way to adding his name to the record book again.