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SBI USMNT Man of the Match: Landon Donovan

Landon Donovan


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BALTIMORE– The day before the U.S. Men’s National Team faced El Salvador in the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals, the one name continually repeated by Salvadorans when asked which American worried them the most was Landon Donovan.

The U.S. all-time leader in goals and assists showed just why on Saturday, delivering a goal and having a hand in three others to lead the U.S. attack in a 5-1 rout of El Salvador. His outing made Donovan the clear-cut choice for SBI USMNT Man of the Match.

Donovan set up the opening goal with a quality pass to Clarence Goodson, then made the surging run that preceded Joe Corona’s goal. He whipped in a short corner to set up Eddie Johnson’s goal just 14 seconds after coming on. Donovan eventually found the net himself with a speedy run to finish off a quality pass from Johnson, then finished off his day with a third assist when he delivered a perfect cross for Mix Diskerud to finish it off.

Donovan’s dream outing leaves him with 54 career USMNT goals and 55 career USMNT assists. He also became the first player to score in six Gold Cups.

Since we know who would win a Man of the Match poll this time around, our question for you this time is what player not named Landon Donovan impressed you the most against El Salvador?

Cast your vote after the jump:


  • Joe Corona
  • Eddie Johnson
  • Nick Rimando
  • Mix Diskerud
  • Clarence Goodson
  • Michael Parkhurst
  • Jose Torres
  • Kyle Beckerman
  • Matt Besler

Who did you vote for? What did you think of Donovan’s masterful showing? Excited to see him with the full squad in September? Think anybody can stop this U.S. Gold Cup team?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. 23 players to WC. Starter and backup in each position with usually one extra goalkeeper. Players now and then, also, WCQ, will be a part of that 23 along the way. Players will come and go with injuries.

  2. Wow, it’s easy to spot the “Zusi is better than Donovan” crowd today. They are all walking aorund with the straws they grasped at in their hands…

  3. people saying that LD still isn’t good enough to crack the starting lineup just shows you that some people are inherently biased against him for some reason and it doesn’t matter what he does he will never be good enough. it also shows how they are ALL IDIOTS.

  4. I really like Mix, the Viking Kid is willing shot from outside, keep clam with the ball, and controls the tempo, and natural understanding with Donovan. Mix reminds me many ex-Yugoslavia mix centrel midfielders.

    Corona, I love Corona willingness to score but misses alot, just need control his energy a bit.

      • Mix has a bright future, his biggest problem will be that Bradley is only 3 years older and super. But Mix is shaping up to be a good future player and will likely have a good club career if he can not break through with the Nats due to bad luck

  5. Donovan is a beast, and his touch today and against Costa Rica is as good as it has ever been in his career, if not better. And I think now not even his biggest detractors, including the great Jurgen Klinsmann himself, can deny that the smartest thing Landon Donovan has ever done was take time off to get his head together and come back with renewed desire for the game. Folks need to remember that Donovan was not turning down a string of USMNT call-ups over 16 months while playing for his club like Timothy Chandler, who is considered by some to be a hero for playing one WCQ game for the US. Yep, one game. Donovan, who has given his heart and soul to the USMNT for over a decade, also took a sabbatical at the club level. There was never any question about Donovan’s commitment to the shirt and those who tried to allege that, including Klinsmann, should now hang their heads in shame.

    • There are those of us who are NOT going to hang our heads in shame, but are going to say get in there and play when you have a chance, because I don’t have enough talent to do so and would give my left nut to be able to.

      ps. I believe he is the best player to ever play for the US, very objective in my thinking and definitely not a hater.

    • biff,

      JK has never been a Landon detractor. JK has given LD exactly what he needed, a push and a challenge to re-discover what he (LD) loved about the game.

      LD owes JK big time for the needed “tough love”. Plus he owes him for putting together this flying circus for Donovan to lead.

      And there was a question about Donovan’s commitment; Donovan himself raised the question and wondered whether that commitment was still there. That’s why he took the break in the first place.

      You might have noticed that if you were not so busy looking up dirt on Chandler.

  6. Landon was a monster all game. I expected them to start calling out raffle numbers for fans to come on the field and let Landon set them up for a goal.

    Rimando had some excellent saves and looked very good. The penalty kick was what it was, but Nick looked great the entire game.

  7. LD has some beautiful qualities. He is also kind of a turnover machine, as long as the opponents have their legs still. Basically he gives you lots of signal but also lots of noise. He will be an awesome 61st minute substitute in the WC. I still think it would be a mistake to start him.

    BTW, the savadorans should have netted at least 3 today also. The shanked some finishes that would have made Landon blush.

    • I’m sure you complete a lot of your backpasses, but they’re not going to get us any goals. Nothing ventured, nothing gained

    • I can’t stand the way people love to highlight negatives. The best players in the world don’t hit every pass on a dime or put every shot on frame. You have to take a chance to do something special and that’s what Landon does. He takes chances because he knows he has the ability to pull them off. Same with Dempsey. I think the sad truth is they may not be able to truly play together and both play to the height of their ability because they are both so willing to try and push themselves on the game.

      Still, I think that our 3 best attacking players, the ones head and shoulders above the rest, are Altidore, Donovan, and Dempsey. We would be foolish not to try and keep those three playing together, even if two have to play second-fiddle to the other.

      What’s the point in making him a sub? He is just as fast in the 90th minute as he is in the 1st minute. Klinsmann has found his super-sub, and his name is Eddie “Grown A** Demolition Man” Johnson.

    • AK48,

      ” I still think it would be a mistake to start him.”

      Try this. Imagine Zusi in LD’s role in the Gold Cup. Do you think the team still plays this well?
      Then imagine Deuce in LD’s role in the Gold Cup. Do you think the team still plays this well?

      You tell me.

  8. I think Beckerman was Man of the Match, in my opinion. He had some great passing which led to several goals. He didn’t get the assists he did start a lot of offensive attacks. It was by far Beckerman’s best performance and considering his position, it showed in the performance of the team.

    Also, I see LD making the WCup team but only on the left side, opposite of Zusi.

    • best moment of the match. Shows that Donovan’s not the tight-ass everyone thinks he is. The security guards are laughing. The AR is freaked out! He just wants to get the hell out of that corner before HE gets hit with something.

  9. Kyle Beckerman is overrated and overplayed. US Soccer fans are far to knowledgable to take him seriously because they know there is such better talent out there.

      • Yep I know people don’t like him for obvious reasons, but no one can complain about his performance against ES. I don’t like him either, but for this team he is crucial. Against these types of opponents opponents I think he’s the tough physical player we need.

        Can’t believe I’m defending Beckerman, but hey the dude plays his role and does it well. One of the most consistent performers we have.

    • Kyle Beckerman is a classy player. Knows his role, and plays it extremely well. Unfortunately for Beckie is that he is just a step to slow for (real) international football. Is there more speed out there in the USMNT landscape? yes. More talent? not a ton.

      • There are slower players than Beckerman in international football.

        His speed is not an issue, his ball control or what y,all call his first touch is.

        I would say the more games he plays with this unit the better he will get.

    • Disappeared in the second half save a few balls that bounced his way outside the box that he admittedly made nice (but not nice enough) strike on goal out of. Caught out of position/not caring in the lead up to the penalty and a few other of El Sal’s best chances. Otherwise though, i think it was his best game. Like Parkhurst, good game, not enough to move past 4 or 5 in the CM pecking order

  10. Can we all agree that this is the end of Wondo? He’s shown he can score against terrible teams. he was a non factor against Costa Rica and El Salvador. He’s slow on the ball and makes poor decisions.

    He’s the homeless man’s Chicharito.

    • Agree, Wondo did not do himself any favors, doesn’t have the qualitity to go against top defenders. Bitcharito jumps much higher and is faster but similar players.

    • Spot on. He’s on the outside looking in. In fact, I would bring another mid over Wondo for Brazil. Donovan and Dempsey can also play up top if something happens to Jozy, Gomez (if he regains his form after surgery), or EJ. Guys like Diskerud, Torres, Corona, Shea are more useful players against better competition.

      I’d also like to take another look at Terrence Boyd. He hasn’t seen any serious minutes for this team but Klinsmann seems to rate him pretty high. He hasn’t been able to make his case being relegated to late game sub in the qualifiers.

      • I think Wondo would be best served coming off the bench against better competition if we are down. His energy and movement off the ball are a nuisance to deal with especially if tired. I don’t think there is room in the 23 for a player like that but that is the only role I could see him playing next summer. I agree that there are other, more diverse, options that would serve us better come next summer.

        Boyd will get a look sooner or later. Klinsmann seems to like him and no way he gets brought to Brazil without some quality minutes under his belt.

  11. Donovan was great, his best game back, and has earned his place back on the WC qualifying team, but man he needs to work on his finishing. How many shanks has in had in front of the goal this tournament? He can’t afford to miss those against better opposition. Other thoughts: Corona seems like the player to watch over the next year. Could be our next big time offensive player. Johnson was much better than Wondo all around and even scored on a Wondo-trademark header. I think we are seeing the last of Wondo.

    • No one had their shooting boots on today. Other than maybe Goodson. Corona was class on the 2nd, but he missed some chances. And oy, Mix. He had at least as many chances as Landon. Wondo whiffed brutally a couple times too.

      The US easily could’ve netted 8 or 9 if they had finished.

    • Yup. The greatest goal scorer in the history of our nation needs to work on his finishing.

      Conditions weren’t ideal. Make shift pitch – rainy weather. How bout we just give him the benefit of the doubt and not question his finishing.

      • I’m about as big a Donovan fan as there is and I was even telling my friends during the game that his touch around the net seems to be the one area that hasn’t quite come back yet. That’s not to say he hasn’t been clinical in the past or can’t again be in the future but he isn’t quite a finished product. With that being said, his vision, pace, creativity passing touch are what is driving this team right now and what the “A” team is missing. No question he makes a team better, regardless of his lack of finishing ability at the moment.

      • Am I the only one that thinks that LD was never a great finisher around the goal? His skill gets him easy chances, but he is no Altidore/Dempsey/Ronaldo/Messi with his shot. He also takes nearly all penalties, which he is a wiz at, but that adds to his tally total.

        I don’t expect Landon Donovan to finish every chance like I do Jozy or even Wondo. I do expect him to keep pushing, probing, passing and taking chances when they come. He is primarily a set up man- I think Gretzky is a great comparison- who gets goals because he is so talented.

  12. He already scored in this Gold Cup, the P.K. against Cuba, so he had already scored in 6 Gold Cups before today’s tally

  13. Once again form is temporary cl@ss is permanent. He can take as much time off as he wants. Still top 3 in the player pool

  14. Once again form is temporary class is permanent. He can take as much time off as he wants. Still top 3 in the player pool

  15. I there was any doubt that Landon is this country’s mist dangerous player that performance stamped it! People will question the opposition and rightfully so but what he’s been able to consistently do is have a hand in all scoring opportunities for this team. The question then becomes who sits when Donovan returns to the starting 11?

    • I think the left midfield is what opens up for Donovan. Then JK can play either Donovan or Dempsey there with the other playing up top. That leaves Beasley and Johnson battling for left back spot.

      • I agree with this. My Full XI right now:

        Altidore, Dempsey (Free Role), Landon (LM), MB90(CM), Zusi(RM), Jones (if I’m JK)/Cameron (my preference for DMC), Fabian (LB), Besler, Gonzo, Dolo/Parkhearst (RB), Howard

        Jones is probably still over Cameron in technical ability at DMC. But his insistence on charging forward and forgetting his role, and his inability to stay disciplined for 90mins, leaves me inclined to say I prefer Cameron shielding the backline and Bradley in the orchestrator role.

        I think Landon playing that faux-winger Torres currently is playing would prove perfect. He can run the channel, get wide when he needs to, cut inside as opportunity presents itself. And it leaves room for Johnson to bomb forward from the back. Against weaker teams, I could definitely see Johnson sliding to the right and Beasley playing the left to get both flanks active.

      • I don’t think Jones is forgetting his role as you say. Klinsmann has said that he likes Jones’ ability to get involved in the attack. Jones doesn’t play the pure #6 role many US fans wish he would. He is allowed just as much freedom as Bradley

      • And that’s been the heart of the problem with the Bradley/Jones duo. As you say, both are playing box-to-box, but at times don’t communicate between each other. The team really started clicking when Cameron came in for Jones because Cameron played the #6 and Bradley more attacking. JK seems to be betting that Bradley and Jones can figure each other out before Brazil…

      • Well, Jones will have to serve a yellow suspension at some time during the WC I am sure, so we do need Cameron to play in whatever game that is.

        Here’s my question- Which mid-field does JK prefer, the interchangable one or the one where one stays at home (Beckerman in this here tourney, Cameron in the game in Seattle)? I cant figure out which he prefers since this team has the same dynamic (Stu in the Jones role, KB-Cameron and Mix as MB)?

        I prefer having the sweeper there, and I prefer Bradley in the attack, bt not sure our coach does.

      • Theres no battle there. Beasley is doing better than okay(thank god), but Johnson does everything Beasley does and does it much better.

      • While I have been arguing for that combo, it’s worth asking whether we see that level of play from Donovan on the left.

      • I dont think you do. BUT, he can interchange with Dempsey which could be lethal. Having success defending or 4-5-1? OK, We will switch Lando up top and 4-1-3-2 ya, see if you can stop two fofrwards bombing forward.

        My only question with it is does Donovan have the heart to defend like a mid?

    • I still don’t see it. While he had several assists and one goal, he fluffed at least two clear cut scoring chances, which he should have converted. On the first, he was too cute and chipped his shot meekly into the keeper’s chest. On the second, he shanked his shot. He was dangerous but far from lethal in front of goal. He is getting heaps of praise, but my guess is that JK is in the locker room telling him that he should have converted those chances, and that when push comes to shove and US is playing top class competition, LD will need to do better.

      • He’s still the best attacking player on the United States Men’s National Team. He could have come up with a cure for cancer while playing today and there are those(you) people who’d still say he didn’t do enough. Just shut up already.

      • You can’t say that Donovan didn’t have enough chances to have a hat trick in this game. Against, better competition he will absolutely need to do better. That said, he still had a great game. His patience, composure and intelligence on the ball are unmatched in the US. His decision making on the ball is fantastic. Only Bradley really compares in that department.

      • I don’t think Bradley really compares in that department.

        As for missed chances, Donovan’s were tough. Other players flubbed much easier ones, but that’s not the point. Not every touch was amazing, but he had as good a game as anyone has ever seen from an American player.

      • Back when I was briefly tuned in to the NHL (the 80s?) there were frequent comparisons between Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieu, with Lemieu being the obvious first-choice scorer while Gretzky was the all-timer in scoring and assists. One look at the balance on Donovan’s scoresheet reveals him to be more the Gretzky type, whose goals come when there’s no first-choice scorer whom he can readily assist. Same with Magic in basketball: while it would have been nice if his scoring were Jordanesque, still precious few fans who paid attention were unable to comprehend his value. And they were dum-dums

      • Hmm. I would say that Bradley has *almost* completely stopped passing into traps.

        LD is trying to do a different thing, but occasionally ends up putting the ball into a dead-end.

      • Bradley is America’s best current footballer. Donovan has accomplished more, and is still apparently very good, but to say Bradley doesn’t compare to Donovan right now is the words of a fool.

      • Dude, he also created four goals… Who cares if you only score1 out of 4 clear chances when you also get three assists…

      • Mr. Whit,

        Your rationale for player evaluation seems oddly myopic. Your thesis seems to be Donovan missed chances and will have to do better against tougher teams. Okay.

        Do you really think everyone on that team doesn’t know that? What exactly does that have to do with anything?

        So Donovan misses chances? Every forward, every player, in the game misses chances. (See Dempsey, Clint, Guadeloupe 2011 Gold Cup). Dempsey’s horror show misses in that game did not stop him from scoring against far better teams. Jozy notwithstanding, Dempsey and Donovan are still the US’ best scorers.

        Individual mistakes like missed chances are reminders to focus more so that they can perform a task they normally would have. Donovan missed some chances he should have made but overall had an outstanding game. You cannot say he did not do his job when you look at the end result. It is a 90 minute game and the idea is to score one more goal than the other guy. If that happens you win, no matter how many chances you missed.

        A manager plays a guy based on probability he can play to a certain overall standard and produce for the team. My guess would be the missed chances are anomalies rather than the norm for Donovan. Donovan’s entire game is based on producing goals for the US either by him or by others.

        Yes, JK and everyone will remind him of his errors but in all probability, he has earned a start for the next game because:

        1. Overall he performed well and was involved in the either the creation or the execution of all the goals
        2. It is unlikely that JK has an American eligible player who can and will do a better job

        If there is one, please tell us who he is.

      • He created 4 goals (3 assists + one hockey assist), he scored another goal. He missed a few chances he should have scored (Someone mentioned they were tough… but he should have finished them), but it was as complete a game as I can remember a US player having. He completely shredded El Salvador.

      • I agree LD missed a couple chances, but I think the bigger question against better competition is what does JK want out of LD… goal scorer or creator of chances for Clint and Jozy to finish? I think it will be the latter….and you cannot tell me LD will not be at his creative best with players like Clint, Jozy, MB90, F. Johnson, E. Johnson, JJ etc. around and in support….Here is the big LD World Cup question….where does he go out on loan when the MLS season ends????? Hello Roberto Martinez this is Everton calling or dare I say Hello Paolo Di Canio this is Sunderland calling????

    • So the US made it to the semi-finals of the Gold Cup? OK, time to start paying attention now… but seriously lets not get carried away about Landon Donovan after a couple strong performances in this tournament against weak competition. Let’s see him score a goal or two against Mexico in the finals and then I will sing his praises along with you fanboys.

      • It doesn’t reqlly matter that he missed the chances, his playmaking ability is what’s important for the team, we need more players that help break down a defence. The way he has played the whole tournament is what’s impressive.

      • danny,

        Why would LD scoring against Mexico make any difference? The A team already have two terminators in Deuce and Jozy.

        It does not matter who scores against Mexico. This tournament is about the team, not individuals.

        LD is auditioning for the role of ringmaster to Klinsmann’s flying circus.

        His job to make sure the team, not necessarily, LD, scores.
        And right now the score is 16 for, 3 against.

        That is an average of 4 goals a game and the team, most importantly, is 4-0.

        JK will judge LD based on how he handles that ringmaster role.

    • Honestly, I think JK rates Zusi enough for him to remain.

      Not sure why every thinks they’re 1a/1b. I think we’ll see something like this:


      • Because when that happens do you bench Fabian Johnson, who is dynamic, or Beasley, who’s the old hat who’s resurrected himself?

      • In your scenario if Beasley continues to impress (albeit being shaky at times in defense) and remains healthy…you slot F.Johnson in at RB.


        Backline starting to really take shape going towards Brazil, right?

      • I’m just playing devil’s advocate, but what about Dolo and (cough) Chandler?

        It’s a pretty sick problem to have. Me likey.

      • What about them?

        Neither have been healthy or present for any stretch of play under JK. I think both have missed their window for different reasons.

        At this point, neither are above Parkhurst (and probably Evans at this point) and I’m far from a fan of either of them…but they’re earning it when it matters….not based on their resume or physical attributes.

      • Cherundolo is absolutely above Parkhurst if healthy….likely the same story for Chandler as well but who knows what is really going on with him.

        the back line still has big questions to sort out by next summer.

      • “Cherundolo is absolutely above Parkhurst if healthy.”

        If healthy.

        I wouldn’t get ahead of yourself on this one. I’ve loved Dolo’s contribution to the Nats but JK has proven that if you don’t jump on board…the ship keeps moving without you.

        He better get healthy, get in form and play or he’ll absolutely be replaced.

      • Perhaps, but they’re questions of depth between people who are doing serviceable jobs. As opposed to the past, where they were absolute disasters.

        There’s no Bornstein back there presently.

      • I agree he needs to get healthy, but when he is healthy, he is head and shoulders above Parkhurst and Evans.

      • Evans is above Parkhurst….as proven by JK starting Evans ahead of Park during qualifiers. Skill wise Dolo & Chandler are above Evans….but need to get healthy and get back to playing with the National Team. When/If healthy the RB depth chart looks something like:
        The upcoming European season will sort out where players land ultimately in the pecking order. A strong start to the season by Chandler & Lichaj will jump them in the ranks.
        Parkhurst & Dolo will likely take more time…expect by Christmas Brake for them to either raise their stock or drop off the map.

      • If Klinnsman starts Beas and Fab at fullback then we will finally be able to play the type of attacking soccer that we all crave. I think that is both a likely and exciting scenario. I too would like to see Zusi and Donovan start together. both are extremely mobile.

      • Beasley gave away a stupid PK today. I think JK moves F Johnson into Beasley’s spot and Donovan to left winger.

      • Disagree. I think Donovan stays right where he is, withdrawn forward. He’s the most impactful guy the USA has at that spot…yes, better than Dempsey. Since nobody has really solidified their hold on the left mid spot, and that is Dempsey’s preferred spot anyway – he likes to put the ball on his right foot and drive inside from left to right – I think Dempsey ultimately moves to left mid, with Beasley and Fabian Johnson fighting it out to start at left back. I think Zusi and Corona are the guys at right mid. CM we’ve got a good half-dozen guys you could start and feel good about, and centerback looks like Gonzalez, Besler, Goodson, and Cameron will probably be listed as a CB in the 23 just because he can cover so many places and there’s going to be a pile of quality midfielders available who can help us.

        Real problem is the RB spot. Nobody has grabbed ahold of it and I really do think the door is open for some new guy like Yedlin to make a grab for it.

      • Folks, folks, folks, before we get all giddy about LD’s Gold Cup play…..slowwww down on moving Clint. From a tactical point of view JK is looking for his wing players to play both ways and at this point I think that leaves LD on the wing and Clint playing behind Jozy. Also, JK has named Clint captain, no way he moves him to put LD in beyond Jozy!!! Now, that does not mean LD and Clint cannot move back and forth and cause some serious issue with their movment…If I were Jozy, I would be pretty pumped with the kind of service and space that kind of movment could create!!

      • Then you get intense competition for starting spots. Good players are going to be left on the bench or left at home, bottom line, and that’s a good problem to have, as it will push everyone to be even better.

      • It is a waste of talent to put Fabian Johnson in the defense. He is better than Zusi in every facet of the game. Zusi is pretty good, Fabian Johnson is another class. Keep Beasley at LB and bring Chandler back to play RB. End of story.

      • I think the best case scenario is Fabian at LB, but only if the is an equal quality player in front of him at LW
        Currently that scenario doesn’t exist.

      • why not beasley at LW? quckness of thought and foot, can cross and can track back on D. He plays in an advanced position at puebla and is effective there.

      • Why would it be a waste of talent? Seems JK likes his outside backs to do everything on the flanks. They play end line to end line and their skill is necessary in the final third on passes and on runs at goal. Seems to me F. Johnson is an ideal LB unless he struggles to defend.
        I like Beasley, but Johnson is a better player, and so is Donovan, so is Zusi. Somebody got to go- it is DMB.

        Also, couldn’t Orozco be the solution at RB? Where he plays for club anyway?

    • Agreed. Look, there are things they both could have done better, but it is obviously the two of them have class. Before I forget, I thought Torres was quality as well. It’s very nice to see the young quality we have in the midfield.

      • Torres tends to push inside too quickly, but otherwise, he’s playing well.
        The right back on the other hand…

    • I have to give some love to Rimando. There was a point in the waning moments of the first half when ES could easily have made it 2-2, even 3-2, were it not for Rimando coming up HUGE.

      The complexion of the game changes dramatically if he lets in a 2nd goal and for that reason he had the biggest impact on the game in my opinion.

  16. I like Landon for MotM but holy cow he missed a lot of chances, probably five that he normally would have converted, he was on fire. Plus he looked good in those sunglasses at the end of the game. Oh and BTW who throws sunglasses as a missile? I mean really, it reminds me of Austin Powers and the cup cake.

    • I thought the sunglasses gag wrapped up MotM right there alone.

      Good job on the Austin Powers reference, ha ha.

  17. “Exhausted, relieved and validated.”

    That would be my title for the image of seeing Donovan with arms out, looking up in the rain with eyes closed…

    May be one of the most epic images I’ve ever seen with our Nats and Donovan absolutely deserved that moment after the hardwork he’s put in to get back to this spot.


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