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TGIF: Swagger like Landon

Landon Donovan (Getty Images) 

Maybe it was the goal vs. Brazil. Or maybe it was a stint with Bayern Munich that went better than previous German excursions. Perhaps it was simply enjoying a summer where he recaptured the form that has made him arguably the best player in U.S. national team history.

Whatever the reason, Landon Donovan has a swagger these days that he's never had before, a confidence and a belief that he can dominate any game and give any team he plays on a good chance of winning. This isn't the too young to know any better confidence of a 2002 Landon DOnovan. It is a swagger built on newly discovered self-belief, a swagger that should have U.S. national team and Los Angeles Galaxy fans very excited, and Donovan's future opponents very worried.

"I'm in a place now where it doesn't matter when I arrive or that the preparation is ideal," Donovan said after leading LA to a win vs. New York on Thursday, the same day he arrived via red-eye flight from Los Angeles.

"I know how I'm going to perform."

How Donovan performed on Thursday was very much the same way he performed in South Africa, with a hunger and determination that showcased the skills he has had for this entire decade. There's no hesitation or doubt in the way Donovan is playing now. He knows what he can do, and he knows that when he's on his game he can dominate.

What will that mean for the Galaxy? It means that a team that few thought would even make the playoffs suddenly has to be taken seriously as a post-season threat and an MLS Cup contender. As crazy as that may sound, this Galaxy team is clearly better than the 2005 team Donovan carried to an improbable MLS Cup title. This time around, Donovan has a better coach and better teammates around him. He also has that swagger.

What will it mean for the U.S. national team? It means that the U.S. team's best player is peaking and doing so as the team moves closer to its Aug. 12 World Cup qualifying showdown against Mexico. "We're ready," was Donovan's response to what he thought of the United States' chances in Estadio Azteca next month. I don't think anybody can question that.

Can Donovan keep this up? Is this the new Landon, or is he just high on success and destined to rekindle some of the insecurities that have kept him from maximizing his ability?

We are about to find out.


  1. Uli Hoeness @ Bayern purchased no one at mid break, Donovan included. He boasted he would purchase no one. Klinsmann and Bayern lost the title because of Uli. They played without in form attackers on many occasions when Klose went down with injury.
    Those who claim Donovan couldn’t make the squad conveniently forget that Uli closed the door before the trial.
    If Donovan who is yards ahead of Beckham, can’t play in Europe than where does that put Becks, Milan, and England?

  2. “Landon’s swagger is evident. But he is a bit emotional and can get depressed, it really affects his game. So Mrs. Donovan, please keep his spirits high…if you know what I mean.”

    Mrs. Donovan and Landon just split up.

  3. Donovan is a very good player who, perhaps for the first time in his career, is really looks interested in what he is doing. The Beckham thing probably helped clarify things for him and I think the intense criticism of the U.S. team following the first two games of the Confederations Cup on top of shoddy play in WC qualifying really hit Donovan (and Dempsey) hard. The U.S. press, combined with the powerful blogs, were clearly no longer willing to make excuses for the U.S. because of the novelty of the game here. And Donovan is the U.S. team more than anyone. It looks too me like he took a hard uppercut to the jaw and decided that he didn’t want to get punched anymore.

  4. At this point, Donovan looks like a Top 10 player in the world! He is dominating games at all levels. His speed cannot be denied! He’s going to tear Mexico a new one!

  5. Landon’s swagger is evident. But he is a bit emotional and can get depressed, it really affects his game. So Mrs. Donovan, please keep his spirits high…if you know what I mean.

  6. Donovan’s turnaround can also be attributed to his body becoming a man. He is more muscular and, therefore, has more stregth to deal with the physical players trying to bully him. Man, I was in Columbus vs Mexico in Sept. 2005 and was absolutly DISGUSTED with him as I watched Kasey send goalkick after goalkick towards him and he backed away from the contact everytime allowing the Mexican defense to accept the ball. Rewatch that game and tell me I’m not telling the truth.

    This season he came in much bigger through his shoulders and arms… Combined with all the other things mentioned about his growth as a footie STUD and there you have it.

    I’ve been as hard on him as anybody but have always rooted for him. Good work Landon and don’t be afraid to STICK IT to Beckham AGAIN if need be.

  7. landywanker said

    “and you can be sure if they DID make an offer, he would have up and left his galaxy teammates in the same way he’s criticizing beckham for doing.”

    You obviously haven’t a CLUE about what moving to Europe means for the American player. Yes, leaving for Europe would leave the Galaxy in a tight spot, but he would have TO A MAN, the support of every player in the league. any Yank who goes to Europe is not only furthering his own career, but improving US soccer as a whole. Beckham’s motives are to keep his tenuous (at best) place in the English team, a team that can survive just fine without him. It’s about him

    LD’s motive is to further his own development, which will only open more doors for others.

    It takes a wanker to know a wanker, so shaddup!

  8. I agree with those who said that goals aren’t a true measure of success in Donovan’s case but to say he’s a world class player?

    That’s pushing it.

    It’s really simple, Landon is peaking and Bradley better make sure he puts him in situations where he will help the US succeed.

  9. i think a variety of factors play into landon being at his best right now…..

    first, his confidence, which i think started to take off as a result of his stint at bayern, which was arguably a success…..from the standpoint that while he may not have stayed on the books there, he definitely was able to contribute and was amongst players, and a coach, that knew he could contribute.

    secondly, his maturity, let’s face it, even he admits that he has grown A TON since the 2006 world cup not only as a soccer player, but as a man.

    thirdly, his performance at the confeds cup. he proved again, that he can compete and excel at the highest levels of soccer.

    lastly, and i think by no means the least important, and something that i think has been grossly overlooked, based on the fact that i have not really seen it mentioned very much, is that he is finally CONSISTENTLY BEING LINED UP AT THE CORRECT POSITION FOR HIM, on both the club level (at both bayern and galaxy) and the national team level….and that is as an outside mid. that position allows him to use his best attributes (read: speed, first touch, and finishing….in that order) to be successful.

    i used to tell my buddy back in 2002 during the world cup, that he was best suited to play outside mid, for the aforementioned reasons, as bruce lined him up against portugal. where as my buddy thought he was eventually going to be a attacking mid or second forward. during the 2007 gold cup, people complained about bradley lining him up at outside mid but bottom line, that is his best position. he only plays forward or attacking mid on teams when there is no other option for the coach. unfortunately, as a forward, donovan is not strong enough to receive the ball with his back to the goal on be effective. as an attacking mid, his game gets bottled up as he is not able to use his speed to attack people.

    i think it is safe to say….bradley, klinsmann, and arena all see the same thing.

    let’s just hope these type of performances continue through south africa 2010.

  10. @HM…

    “I have to laugh…

    The fourth place team in the West has more points than the first place team in the East. For that matter, the fifth place team in the West is only 1 point behind Chicago.

    Hey Ives – where are the articles about how bad the East is? If the tables were turned, we’d undoubtedly get eastern propaganda every day.”

    aside from NYRB the east is full of very tough teams beating up on each other. points earned is irrelevant. its about the strength of your competition.

  11. “Problem for Landon is that his style of game can lass the smell test in usa club soccer, but is suspect tactically at higher club levels abroad (Bayern level)”.

    I forcefully disagree. Germany wasn’t a fit for Landon since space isn’t really emphasized as much as it is in Spain (which currently plays the best brand of football in the world). Landon would be well-served playing for a second-tier Spanish team like Valencia, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Villareal (gasp), or Deportivo.

    Imagine him and David Villa together…wow!

  12. Same what you want about Landon, when he is on the field he plays the full 90 and he is the only american that change a game and dominate it his way. Us DC fans have seen him do it to us a number of times, and mexico has realized that landon owns them. Not sure what will happen in the future, but he will go to the hall of fame as the best plaer the Us has produced, until someone else steps up and takes it from him

    any one want to take his crown????

  13. There a difference with how Donovan approached his loan and desire to move to Europe compared to how Beckham did it.

    First, Donovan did not “mail it in” in the 2nd half of the Galaxy season, while Beckham did “mail it in” and he also did not perform his duties as a captain and supposed leader of the Galaxy.

    Donovan make it very clear that he wanted to move to Europe if given the opportunity. Beckham said his loan to AC Milan was just to stay fit … until he decided that he wanted to stay for good and get out of his contract with the Galaxy and MLS.

    Donovan did not try to engineer a coup of Galaxy management by bringing in his own guys and coaches … and then deciding to tune out and jump ship when it wasn’t working out.

    The ESPY thing is not Donovan being selfish, but Donovan caring about US Soccer. Beckham doesn’t care about MLS, the Galaxy, or improving soccer in the US … he only cares about making millions, playing for England, and getting out of MLS.

    Well actually, we don’t know that yet … let see if he uses his opt-out clause in the end of the season.


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