Landon Donovan's career has been a matter of debate all year, but not because of any drop in play. There was an early season interview where he discussed having a lack of motivation, and now once again he has opened up and told ESPN FC that he doesn't know what he wants next from his career. You can read that interview here, but rather than speculate on what Donovan might do next we're going to talk about the facts.
The facts are these:
Landon Donovan is under contract through 2013. He signed a four year contract extension after the 2009 season where the Galaxy finished as MLS Cup runners up, with a clause that allows him to seek offseason loans. He's built a relationship with Everton as a result, going over to England in 2010 and then before this season.
I'm going to admit, interjecting myself into this article, that Landon Donovan like David Beckham are semi-emotional topics for me. I watched the 2009 MLS Cup playoffs in my dorm room in Berkeley on my laptop with my Galaxy scarf pinned to the bulletin board material they put on the walls so students don't scar them with their posters.
I started covering the Galaxy in 2010, so basically I've covered the team through the entirety of Donovan's extension. It was just after Donovan's "Go, Go, USA" goal that I started covering the team. He was the player I wanted to get to know. When he came back from his Gold Cup run in 2011, after the group interview in the locker room on his first game back, I told him "It's good to have you back Landon". I'm not objective on this topic.
However, the numbers are, so from here on out I'm going to hide my inobjectivity on this topic behind a whole bunch of numbers. Readers should be aware right now that LAG Confidential has a player rating system called Match Impact Rating which was created by the wonderful Patrick Johnston. Today, we're going to talk about how Donovan could finish top of the league in MIR.
Right now the top players in Match Impact are as follows: Thierry Henry 47.8, Landon Donovan 47.2, Fredy Montero 46, Mauro Rosales 45.9, Chris Wondolowski 45.3, Steven Lenhart 45, Eddie Johnson 43.7, Blas Perez 43.2, Robbie Keane 43.2, Chris Pontius 41.2.
As you can see Donovan is but tenths of a point away from the league lead. Wondo is going to get a massive amount of love as the Golden Boot winner. Steven Lenhart cheats. Eddie Johnson is a hot item with his performance with the national team, but there you go. Thierry Henry, Landon Donovan at the top of the offensive impact rating.
Donovan is averaging 0.96 points per 90. This is third in the league only behind Henry at 1.16 and Wondo at 1.09. Wondolowski is all goals, with seven assists on the year. Which is nothing to dismiss, but Henry has 12 and Donovan has 14. Donovan is creating goals on a clip with Mauro Rosales and Marvin Chavez.
Donovan also has 9 goals on the year, giving him 23 points on the year. Wondo has more than that on goals alone, but Donovan is doing it at a more efficient clip. Donovan has 2.7 shots per 90 and 1.2 of those are on target. Wondolowski in the meantime has taken 123 shots this year, only Kei Kamara has taken more.
Donovan is also great in the ball control game. He's suffered more fouls than he's committed 1.79 suffered per 90 versus 1.37 committed. Donovan is offside only 0.2 times per ninety minutes. He's not costing the Galaxy possession, and he's responsible for about a goal per match.
Members of the national media, before you take the easy route of awarding the best goal scorer on the best team MLS MVP, remember this. Wondolowski has been golden boot winner before, on a team that didn't sniff the playoffs. He was the Castrol Index player of the year, on a team that didn't sniff the playoffs. Wondolowski didn't make the Earthquakes good. However, Donovan has been essential in the Galaxy being one of the top teams in MLS over the last four years. He's been so good for so long that it's started to be taken for granted.
It's really quite fantastic.
Again, MIR is given to LAG Confidential by the fantastic Patrick S. Johnston.