There isn’t much left to say about Landon Donovan.
The LA Galaxy star approaches the final games of his illustrious career with one more record to break.
Donovan’s career assist total stands at 135 after a superb performance over the weekend against the New York Red Bulls. He’s now tied with Steve Ralston for the all-time league lead and has four games to eclipse the mark set by the former New England Revolution star.
Michael Bradley is no stranger to Donovan’s exploits, sharing the pitch with the 32-year-old in the early stages of his international career.
“He’s done so much for the national team, for the Galaxy and for MLS,” said Bradley following training on Wednesday.
“I think we’re all seeing, even now, what a good player he is and how he can make such a difference in any team he’s on.”
Donovan leads the league in assists this season with 18, and has scored 10 goals of his own. He’s both a creator and finisher on a team loaded with attacking talent. Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes are in the top five in league scoring with 17 and 16 goals respectively.
How do you stop Donovan? It’s not easy.
“We understand part of us going there and getting a result is going to be making the game very difficult for him,” said Bradley.
“The way that they play at times means that games open up and guys like Landon, Keane and Zardes are able to be sharp in how they take advantage in the counterattack. It’s important for us to give away as little as possible.”
Greg Vanney knows Donovan well from his time with the Galaxy. Eliminating the threat posed by the two-time MLS Cup MVP involves a multipronged approach.
“You [have to] take a look at his spaces, try to cut out service into him and try to make him play in areas he’s slightly less comfortable in,” said TFC’s head coach.
“It’s really an awareness and it’s collective, team defending. We look at Landon on his own and we try to match him up one-on-one and it’s going to be a difficult matchup for anyone.”
The Galaxy attack revolves around more than just Donovan.
“It’s the same thing between Landon, Robbie [Keane], Robbie Rogers coming around the outside, they have Juninho. They have options. We need to make sure that we know where all of them are and that we’re communicating through our switches and that we close down spaces that they like to play in.”
Bruce Arena’s squad is loaded with talent and benefits from the sort of cohesion few other MLS teams enjoy. Donovan, set to retire at the end of the season, is the lynchpin of the team and is proving he has plenty left in the tank.
With the Galaxy on the cusp of their fifth Supporters’ Shield crown, it’s worth asking if Landon wants to stick around for one more year. The “old man” can still play.
Update on Defoe and Warner
Jermain Defoe and Collen Warner were participants in full training for the second consecutive day.
Greg Vanney is pleased with the progress both players are making.
“[Defoe] will be with us on the weekend and we’ll see how much time we can get him ultimately,” said Vanney. “He’s looking ready to go.”
“I don’t know exactly the number of minutes [he’ll play], we’ll see again as we go into the weekend. He’s recovering well from day-to-day.”
The news regarding Warner was also positive.
“The expectation is that Collen will be ready for something this weekend if called upon.”