Playing in the Salt Lake Valley many times with both the U.S. Men’s National Team and the Los Angeles Galaxy, Landon Donovan has always made a good impression on and off the field.
So there’s no doubt that Utah soccer fans shared in the emotional ups and downs of Donovan in the past week, when he was left off the U.S. roster for the World Cup and then became Major League Soccer’s all-time leading goal scorer.
Donovan’s 135th career goal, coming in the Galaxy’s 4-1 victory over Philadelphia (he added another goal late in the game), lifted him past former Real Salt Lake player Jeff Cunningham. In 38 games for RSL in 2006 and ‘07, Cunningham scored 19 goals. RSL traded him to Toronto in May 2007, in one of the first personnel moves after the hiring of former teammate Jason Kreis as coach.
Donovan entered the 2014 season tied with Cunningham, so the record-breaking goal was a long time in the making. “Well, it’s been a while so there are a lot of emotions,” Donovan said. “Just getting on the scoreboard again was nice. Hitting the net was nice. Getting the 135 on the back of what happened this week. It was a good feeling.”
Donovan strongly believes he deserved to make the World Cup roster, but he was not among coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s selections. Regardless, anyone would have to admire the way Donovan responded Sunday, returning to the Galaxy and helping his team win.
He could have sulked. Instead, he gave his best effort at the StubHub Center and was rewarded with the record-breaking achievement. That’s validating for anyone who has watched him play in the Salt Lake Valley, including a big performance against Costa Rica at Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2005 and subsequent appearances for the USMNT and the Galaxy at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.