Landon Donovan is back to his old tricks since returning to the L.A. Galaxy after a brief hiatus from soccer.
In fact, by many metrics, Donovan can be considered one of the top playmakers in all of MLS so far this season.
The most prolific goalscorer in United States men’s national team history has started in 12 MLS matches and appeared in 13 for the two-time defending MLS Cup Champions, the Los Angeles Galaxy.
He has certainly been aggressive since his voyage back to California, committing the third most fouls of anyone on Los Angeles (1.5 per match, 19 total) and receiving one yellow card. Only Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas have committed more fouls for L.A., having been whistled 1.5 (26 total) and 2.9 (46 total) times per match respectively. Sarvas’ figure is the highest total in all of MLS 2013.
Donovan has always been a finisher. He has the most goals in U.S. national team history (49) and the second most caps per goal with 2.8 just a notch behind current U.S. captain, Clint Dempsey (2.9). He also has the third most goals in MLS history, having tallied 127 times and only trails Jeff Cunningham (134) and Jaime Moreno (133).
He has picked up where he left off in that category, having notched the second highest (three) amount of goals for current Galaxy players so far trailing only Robbie Keane. Mike Magee’s total of six still leads L.A. even though he has been traded to the Chicago Fire.
Donovan’s goals have come with the fourth highest shots-per-match ratio on L.A. (1.7, 22 total) giving him a 13.6 percent conversion rate.
While Donovan’s contributions in scoring have been needed for L.A., a look at chance creation and Donovan’s playmaking statistics clearly shows where he shines brightest for head coach Bruce Arena.
Since his first MLS match in 2013, a 2-2 draw with Toronto FC, Donovan has dished out 27 key passes, just over two per match (2.1). That figure is second behind only Keane (28 total key passes, or 3.1 per match) on the Galaxy. Donovan’s 2.1 key passes per match is also the seventh highest total in all of MLS. The Columbus Crew’s Federico Higuain leads the league with 4.3 key passes per match.
It makes perfect sense that Donovan has been able to dish out such a high rate of key passes so far considering he is tied for second in all-time MLS assists with Carlos Valderrama (114), looking up only at Steve Ralston (135).
Once again, Donovan has not missed since his break in regards to assists and is having one of the best seasons in MLS so far in the aforementioned category. He has notched four total, tied for the ninth highest figure so far in MLS. He is not so far off the league leaders (David Ferreria, Sebastien Le Toux and Robbie Keane) either; who are tied with six assists each. The California native is also tied for eighth in assist per MLS appearance with 0.3.
Donovan is connecting three out of every four of his passes (75 percent). This figure is almost exactly around L.A.’s team average pass success rate (75.1 percent) when including players with at least nine appearances in MLS 2013.
The Galaxy’s captain is far more likely to look short with his pass attempts than he is with longer passes. In fact, Donovan connects on average 2.1 long balls per match. Midfielder Juninho connects the most long balls per match for L.A., linking up with a teammate on a long pass 5.9 times per match.
The MLS legend has always been capable of beating defenders off the dribble, so it comes as no surprise that he is tied for the lead for L.A. with Robbie Keane and Marcelo Sarvas in successful dribbles per match with 1.3.
Not too much to report in terms of defensive statistics for Donovan who has mostly been deployed as a winger or striker by Arena.
Indeed, Donovan is certainly continuing to do what he has always done in MLS: score goals and create for teammates at a serious clip.
One team stat, though, might well nag at Landon Donovan: only 24 points so far for L.A., just one ahead of the Colorado Rapids for the last Western Conference Playoff spot. He will undoubtedly make it his mission to dramatically increase that figure once he returns from Gold Cup duty likely in early August.
All data based on MLS matches through July 2, 2013. MLS Statistics gathered from WhoScored.