8 Reasons to Believe Landon Donovan Is Still America's Best
Ever since he scored seven goals in his first little league game, Landon Donovan has been a force like almost no other in American soccer.
He's become arguably the first genuine American soccer superstar, someone with whom many Americans can identify.
And there's been more to him than celebrity status. Plenty of substance has shaped his reputation, be it World Cup goals or helping to raise the status of MLS.
Still, at just 30 years of age, there are plenty out there who say he's no longer the best America has to offer. Let's take a look at that.
Donovan's Performance Against Scotland
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With three goals and two assists against Scotland in a recent friendly, Donovan may have had the single greatest game in the history of American soccer.
Also, this combines with the fact that it was against Scotland.
True, the Scots may not be anywhere close to Europe's best (otherwise they'd be at the Euros), but they're a team that can still field players who do their club work at a very high level.
Being a one-man wrecking crew against such a team is as impressive an accomplishment as an American can make.
The Overall Body of Work
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It might not be a direct reason as to why he's still America's best, but it does explain one important point.
If Landon Donovan wasn't someone who has been the country's flagship star for a decade, he probably wouldn't attract so many people constantly questioning whether he's still the best.
If, like Clint Dempsey, he had only recently emerged as a true star, then all of his performances (including his Scotland exhibition) would be seen in a different light.
The fact is that he's been a star since helping to jump-start America to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals and is now the all-time USA men's leading scorer.
And he's only 30.
The Dominance in MLS
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Doing well in MLS isn't supposed to be that big of an accomplishment.
Yet when you consider that Donovan has dominated in every single season that he's played in the league, it's worth noting.
Even as a player who really sees time as an out-and-out forward, Donovan has managed to score 10 or more goals in seven seasons since first joining MLS in 2001.
In total, he averages nearly a goal every other game (142 goals in 309 appearances).
Such a prolific rate is supremely impressive, regardless of the supposed quality (or lack thereof) in MLS.
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Something that many fans take for granted about Donovan is his insane versatility.
Need someone to take a corner? Donovan is all over it.
How about a free kick from midfield (where you just need someone to place it on Carlos Bocanegra's head)? Again, go with Donovan.
It's part of a larger point that Donovan can do so many different things. If you took him away from the U.S. team, there would be some enormous holes with few immediate solutions.
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As is a major characteristic of American soccer, physical ability is very much still in Donovan's corner.
More specifically, he remains one of the fastest players on the North American continent.
For any doubters, just take a stroll down memory lane. (That isn't a second rate team he outran. That's Brazil.)
Success at Everton
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For those who doubt Donovan's true ability because of his home in MLS, then the two loan-spells he took at Everton should be proof of his ability.
And in his first loan in 2010, he won the team's Player of the Month for January.
That he is beloved by such a well-known fanbase as Everton is testament to his talent.
Ability to Create, Not Just Score
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Something that might separate Donovan from Clint Dempsey is that, while Dempsey is certainly a prolific scorer, Donovan can score and create.
In his latest spell at Everton, Donovan amassed seven assists, including Darron Gibson's winning goal against Manchester City.
It speaks again to his versatility, but Donovan's talent in making assists makes him more valuable than players who are pure goal-scorers.
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Since he's been the U.S.'s most important player for a decade, Donovan is no stranger to being thrust into a leadership role.
Left up to him, players are made accountable.
And for any doubters about his quality in this respect, look at all the clutch goals he's scored to help lead by example (think Slovenia 2010).