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Donovan rewrites record book again after standout second half vs. Belize

DonovanBelize (JaneGershovich)

Photo by Jane Gershovich/Soccer By Ives


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.


  1. The 4-3-2-1 isn’t really any different than the 4-3-3. Those are your BEST 11, playing positions that are all pretty much their best positions. Holden Jones and Bradley all play both way with Stu being the most creative, clinical with incisive passing yet responsible enough to get back and play D. He has a motor matched only by Bradley and probably not a card risk in the slightest. Dempsey, Donavan and Altidore is a formidable attack. Especially if they are given the service. Again of those three we only really need one of them going “both” ways and Dononvan fills that spot nicely.

    We do need the speed tho from those two outside back spots and I would probaly go with Fabian over Beasley. I think we go with Dolo on the right side depending on his upcoming season. It’s possible he may not have anything left in the tank come the end of it then you go with Chandler.

    I’m tellin you Bank on it.

  2. When did this idea of Donovan not tracking back come up? He is a rock solid two way player when his position calls for it. While at Everton, where everybody has defensive responsibiilties, he was very strong as his relationship with Neville developed. At the Galaxy he is a$$igned less defensive work and against these opponents the last couple of games there is no extra defending needed. But if we are outgunned and don’t have possession, he is perfectly capable of tracking back and has consistently proven a willingness to do so.

    • He tracks back, but it would be great if he could concentrate more on his offensive game. He works as hard as anyone has, if not harder.

  3. When did this idea of Donovan not tracking back come up? He is a rock solid two way player when his position calls for it. While at Everton, where everybody has defensive responsibiilties, he was very strong as his relationship with Neville developed. At the Galaxy he is assigned less defensive work and against these opponents the last couple of games there is no extra defending needed. But if we are outgunned and don’t have possession, he is perfectly capable of tracking back and has consistently proven a willingness to do so.

  4. Ultimately, when the Cup comes around your starting line up will look like this
    Cherundolo(if healthy if not then T. Chandler)Cameron, Besler, Fabian Johnson (or Beas.)
    Jones Bradley
    Donovan Holden Dempsey

    Rest of roster:
    (Any other young Goalie)
    Danny Williams
    E. Johnson
    H. Gomez

    Bank on it.

    • Not going to happen unless Cameron gets minutes at CB, and even if that were the midfield, then it would most likely be:

      Donovan – Dempsey – Holden

      JK loves Dempsey in the hole as a withdrawn striker. I seriously doubt he puts Holden in there in place of him, and Holden has said he is comfortable on the wing, even if he prefers a central role. However, I do think that Jones will be starting for the same reasons Beckerman is starting now. JK will always field a #6 defensive midfielder to shield the backline, and it seems that JK thinks Jones fits that role best. I would disagree because he is careless in possession and has a tendency to get pulled forward and force MB90 into a more defensive role to cover for him. If it were me I’d go with a double pivot of Holden and MB90, but that’s just me.

      • Klinsi loves Jones and frankly so do I. He and Bradley work great together and would allow Holden to be the “playmaker”. He is the best American suited for that role. Bradley and Jones are both excellent ball winners plus Jones has an intimidation factor. You need someone who can get stuck in. Bradley and Jones both fit that role and Jones isn’t half as wreckless as some peolpe make him out to be. And, his distribution isn’t bad either. Not as god as Bradley or Holden but better than any alternative. Those three in the middle(Dempsey, Donovan and Holden) would be very fluid and would be capable of generating plenty of offense. The only defensive liability of those three would be Dempsey and that is fine too. Nine guys back should be enough to clog lanes and win back possesion.

        I do tend to agree that G.C. won’t end in the middle of the back line but he should. Gonzales just isn’t going to be mature enough at that position on the World’s stage in time enough. He still makes too many little mistakes that would untlimately hurt our chances. He might be the man in the next cylce if someone else doesn’t come along. Goodson isn’t the answer and I just don’t know about Gooch yet. If he is completely back then it might be him. I just worry about his pace and a little about his distribution.

        I think this could be a good World Cup for us. I like the way things are shaping up.

      • The problem with your formation is that JK doesn’t play that formation. Ever. He is implementing a 4-3-3 throughout the entire U.S. system. That right there is enough to blowup your argument.

        Gonzalez will be an old 25 by the WC. He makes “little mistakes” that are easily corrected.

        F. Johnson is a waste at left back. He is the best winger in the entire U.S. set up.

        You are seriously underrating Goodson. Who was on the field when the US beat Italy in Italy? He is steady.

        Unless Gooch gets a 5th wind in his career, he is pretty much done at the intl level. I seriously rated him for the longest time and he has a great mentality, but a reliance on his physical abilities which are simply not there anymore due to injuries was his downfall from a longevity perspective.

    • No.
      Starting XI
      GK: Howard
      RB: Chandler
      CB: Gonzalez
      CB: Besler
      LB: Beasley
      DM: Jones
      CM: Bradley (offset to the right to compensate for Donovan not tracking)
      AM: Dempsey
      RW: Donovan
      LW: F. Johnson
      F: Altidore

      2nd XI
      GK: Guzan
      RB: Cherundolo
      CB: Goodson
      LB: Castillo
      DM: Cameron (who could easily start over Jones or fill in at either CB or RB)
      CM: Holden
      AM: Corona
      RW: Zusi
      LW: E. Johnson
      F: Gomez

      3rd GK: Bill Hamid/ Sean Johnson
      23rd Player: Completely undecided, but the combination of need and form will decide it.
      IMO consideration in order goes to:
      Midfielders: Edu, Diskerud, Williams, Adu!
      Defenders: Evans, Boca
      Forwards: Boyd, Wondo
      Wingers: Shea, Gatt

      • Holden will be a starter. he won’t be coming off the bench. I am not really even sure if Gonzales will go. He needs a lot of “seasoning”. And if you are seriously considering Adu… your Adone.

      • Who is Holden going to start over? The formation isn’t changing for the full team. We will keep seeing the 4-3-3 through WC 2014. Tell me he is better than anyone starting right now in their respective positions. Is he better than anyone in the defense at defending? No. Is he better than Jones or Cameron at the destroyer role? No. Is he a better box to box MF than Bradley? No. Is he a better winger than Donovan or F. Johnson? No (nor is he a better player than either at any field position). Is he better than Altidore at target F? No. Will he be better than Dempsey at the AM? Nah. He will get plenty of minutes off of the bench and probably make a start due to injury or card accumulation during the tournament. He is a good player getting reps against weak opponents right now. Fanboys need to pump the brakes on the reality of Holden. Barring injuries he will have a major impact for the US at the WC, just not as a starter.

        Gonzales is obviously rated highly by JK and he is still better than the other options. He has a full seasoning to get the little seasoning he needs.

        And no Adu is not seriously in the convo. Read through it.

  5. Mike, do you know the highest number of goals scored by the USMNT over a three-game span? Would love to see them break that record against Cuba.

    • Pretty sure the three-game scoring record is 16, set in 1993 in games vs Jamaica, Cayman Islands, and El Salvador

  6. Well Donovan has pretty much made his point that Zusi will find the bench soon. What can Zusi do better than Donovan?

    P@$$ing: No
    Scoring: Not even close
    Defense: Probably
    Experience: Nope

    Zusi has filled in well, but Donovan is proving again that he is one of our best and he only took off for 4 months, not an entire year like some are suggesting…

      • So we’re judging Donovan on his last 2 opponents only? He has proved in the past that he could make the same things happen against the world’s best. Klinnsmann just wanted to make him work for it, and see that Landon still was hungry to play and win.

        I’d also argue Holden offers more than Zusi. Small sample size, but Zusi isn’t dominating at his position by any means.

      • Why can’t they both play in the same team? Donovan could easily end up playing on the left with Fabian Johnson at left back.

        I also would really like to see Holden get a shot to play with Bradley in the middle. The game speeds up a lot when he’s on the field (especially compared to the way Beckerman plays), I think that could be a pretty dynamic combination, plus somebody will have to play with Bradley after Jones inevitably picks up too many yellow cards.

      • I suppose it has more to do with who you rate right now. I personally am a fan of DMB at LB and Fabian in front of him. Zusi gets rated lower for me because of poor corners, no real scoring threat, and questionable passing at times. I don’t see Donovan sitting on the bench for 60-75 mins a game from now on.

    • While I agree with a lot of your comparisons, I think what we really need to think about is how dangerous it would be to have Donovan and Zusi on the pitch at the same time. Donovan is more than capable of playing on the left and Zusi could stay out on the right.

    • Donovan throws a big headache in Klinsi’s lap.

      Donovan was played out wide against Guatemala and had a horrible showing. Then he was moved into the hole and has excelled the last game and a half.

      So Donovan’s best fit right now is in the hole. However, that’s Dempsey’s position. Out wide, Donovan has struggled the entire season so I’m not convinced he’s a better winger than Zusi at the moment.

      We could move him out left, but we’ve finally found some balance with Johnson and Beasley. Do we mess with that?

      I think Donovan needs to be in the August friendly. I know it will mostly be European based players. But we need to figure out his position in these friendlies so we can give him some proper competitive games with Klinsi’s system and A-team.

      • All I’m saying is I personally like zusi a good bit, but in a big game I want Landon on the field more than i want zusi.

      • Donovan will succeed wherever he can get the ball at his feet. First half agains Guatemala he didn’ tplay poorly, there simply wasn’t anyone to distribute him the ball. Moving more central in that game allowed him to get more touches and keep it away from the Castillo turnover machine.

        The Belize game is a perfect example of when you place quality around Donovan, he makes the whole attack more dangerous. While his movement was solid in the first half, it wasn’t until you had another creative player like Holden that he really made an impact. It helped having Diskerud on in the first half because it at least added another player with some creative ideas.

        I guess my point is that with Bradley distributing and Dempsey, Altidore and Zusi all creating movement around him, Donovan would be fine on the left wing. His services from out wide are still dangerous.

      • Is it too much to hope that maybe it will be Bradley and Holden distributing? This would only underscore your main point about Donovan, and (some will hate me for this) increase our attacking danger by getting Jermaine Jones out of the picture.

        (Sorry Jones-o-philes! I won’t say anything about his temperament on the field, because I think that’s a bit overblown. I just don’t think he distributes well enough to be a starting central midfielder. And the prospect of Holden and Bradley combining makes me salivate.)

      • Yeah, I say we take out anyone with European or international experience (especially Champions League) and replace them with MLS all-stars and rookies. I still can’t figure out why McInerney is not starting over Josie on the A-team already!

      • Donovan had the ball played to his feet plenty in the first half against Guatemala and yet he got dispossessed or made errant pa$ses several times. That could have been and likely was rust but lets not pretend it was lack of service that caused the issue.

      • Castillo had more losses of possession than Donovan had touches. Yes, he did have some poor touches and passes because there was rust as you say but most everything was moving down the left side via Torres and Beasley before being lost by Castillo. You then had Parkhurst struggling to move the ball up on the right too. I just don’t put all the blame on Donovan for his subpar first half against Guatelmala.

      • Hawk’s got it, Josh: “when you place quality around Donovan, he makes the whole attack more dangerous”

        Ultimately I think coach sees that, even if you don’t

  7. Does anyone know if there are other players in the world who had 150 games / 50 goals / 50 assists for the country? I doubt it because only a few players played 150 games and most of them would tend to be goalies or defenders.

    • Finding assist statistics for national teams is very difficult, but there are only two members of the 150 caps and 50 goals club:

      Hossam Hassan – 169 caps- 63 goals – Egypt
      Adnan Al Talyani – 164 caps – 54 goals – United Arab Emirates

      Honorable mention goes to Ali Daei, who is the all-time leader in international goals (men’s) with 109 goals, but he only managed 149 caps, so he didn’t quite make your cutoff 🙂

  8. I know it’s probably been addressed, but why must FSC rely on JP Dellacamera & Cobi Jones? They’re painful to listen to.

    • JP is one of the all time greats of soccer announcing in America. Just be glad you aren’t listening to Gus Johnson. I don’t get FSC, so I don’t know how Cobi Jones is, but just compare tonight to Saturday’s game on Fox. You’ll be begging for Cobi and JP.

      • None of them hold a candle to a good British announcer yet. I just don’t like the flat, dry style American announcers tend to use, it really puts me to sleep. Got to start somewhere though I suppose. Can’t always rely on British imports.

      • False – JP is an awful, awful play-by-play commentator. I almost muted the T.V. after the 20th time he said something like, “The ball goes out for a corner kick….unless it didn’t cross the line.” There’s a reason why ESPN dropped him like they did — he’s just not very good at his job. To top it off, Cobi Jones was even worse as a color commentator. Gus Johnson is equally as awful. FSC needs to pick it up….

    • Oh yeah, that’s right. How to understand how easy it is to overlook his accomplishments. How ’bout this reminder: At the 1999 U-17 World Cup in New Zealand, the Golden Ball winner was Landon Donovan, while the Silver Ball winner was DaMarcus Beasley.

  9. I think it’s pretty obvious Donovan claims his spot back from Zusi. What does Zusi offer that Donovan doesn’t?

    Passing: no
    Scoring: not even close
    defense: probably
    International experience: nope

    Donovan is class and that doesn’t just go away in the matter of 3 months. People act like he was gone for a year.

    • If Donovan pushes out Zusi (who I’m partial to, I think he links up well with Altidore, even if he needs to learn to track back more effectively), then who do we put on the left wing?

      My only problem with your comment is that it assumes (I’m guessing) that we have Fabian at LW and Beasley and LB. I wouldn’t have a problem with FJ at LW if we had a solid LB – and I’m still not sold on the idea of Beasley is the guy I want starting in the World Cup a year from now – as much as I’ve enjoyed his national team resurgence.

      I agree that Donovan has started to show that he’s vital to the national team, but I think he could be just as valuable on the LW (potentially more valuable) than on the RW.

    • Although Donovan has been a great player in the past and it’s great seeing him in the USMNT jersey again and playing well, let’s remember this was Belize and Guatemala. Zusi has played in almost all of the qualifiers and friendlies in Donovan’s absence, against some of the top teams in the World and the region and done well. Unless Zusi is injured, suspended or Donovan lights it up in both the later stages of the Gold Cup and the rest of the MLS season, there’s no chance Klinsmann will bench Zusi for Donovan.

      • Really? Because I think there’s no chance he doesn’t put his best team on the field when it counts

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