Landon Donovan's World Cup Exclusion Is Good for LA Galaxy, Bad for Rest of MLS

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistMay 22, 2014

Apr 12, 2014; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan (10) stretches prior to the game against the Vancouver Whitecaps at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Landon Donovan's exclusion was easily the biggest story after Thursday's release of the United States' 23-man World Cup roster. Now, he can also be included in one of the biggest storylines in Major League Soccer history, depending on how he responds to the news handed to him by U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann. 

If history is any indicator of how Donovan will respond to the biggest adversity he has faced in his career, there is no doubt that he will lead the L.A. Galaxy to what could become an historic run to the MLS Cup.

We only have to look back to the summer of 2013 for the most important example of Donovan laughing in the face of adversity. 

After being on the outside looking in following his self-imposed sabbatical to Cambodia, Donovan returned to the international stage with a vengeance at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The 32-year-old midfielder blazed through opposing defenses for five goals and seven assists on his way to earning the Golden Ball for most valuable player. 

Thanks to his impressive showings against the best in CONCACAF, Donovan regained his regular spot in the national team setup, and he was thought to have clinched a spot on the plane to Brazil. 

Looking further into the past, Donovan used another rejection by a certain German named Klinsmann to fuel a successful 2009 campaign for the Galaxy.

Donovan went on loan to Bayern Munich during the winter of 2009. Despite showing that he could play with one of Europe's best clubs, he was denied a contract by the club that was then managed by the current United States coach. 

Christof Stache/Associated Press

After being turned down by Klinsmann for the first time, Donovan lit the American league on fire for 12 goals and six assists. Those numbers helped the Galaxy make it all the way to MLS Cup before losing on penalties to Real Salt Lake. 

Donovan also recorded nine goals and 14 assists in 2012 on the way to winning the MLS Cup after he was not taken on a permanent basis by Everton. During his loan spell with the Toffees, Donovan made a lasting impact on the club, with six assists during his brief second span with the English Premier League side.

Tim Hales/Associated Press

Based on those three examples from recent footballing history, Donovan is no stranger to responding to adversity and thriving for the Galaxy.

With more motivation than ever to succeed on home soil, Donovan and the Galaxy should be poised to make a run toward the MLS Cup once again. 

The United States legend has plenty of terrific talent around him this season in Robbie Keane, Juninho, Omar Gonzalez, Jaime Penedo and many others. A Galaxy team at full strength will strike fear into any MLS side, and that is even more likely to happen for Bruce Arena's squad with Donovan looking to prove a point. 

Aug 24, 2013; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; LA Galaxy forward Robbie Keane (7), goalkeeper Jaime Penedo (18), forward Landon Donovan (10) and defender Omar Gonzalez (4) stand in the tunnel before player introductions against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Donovan and Keane are already one of the best attacking duos in the league, and now that Donovan has more reason to thrive, the pair have the chance to combine for between 20 and 30 goals by the time the season concludes.

Keane has already netted six goals in nine games. Donovan hasn't scored the goal that will make him the all-time leading scorer in league history just yet, but something tells me that streak won't last long once he's back with L.A. 

CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 11:  Robbie Keane #7 and Landon Donovan #10 of the Los Angeles Galaxy celebrate Keane's goal in extra time of the first half against the Seattle Sounders in Leg One of the Western Conference Championship at The Home Depot Center on N
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Another thing going for the Galaxy is the fact that they have played the fewest games of any Western Conference team, with nine. 

The schedule also hands the Galaxy a big lift, with two of their three games before the World Cup break coming at home against beatable opposition in Philadelphia and Chivas USA.

If the Galaxy can get rolling during the stretch, where they also play Chicago on the road, the team will have a two-week break that will see some banged-up players recover from injury. After that, they can hit the ground running with Donovan, Keane and the rest on June 28 against San Jose, a game that just happens to be nationally televised on NBC Sports Network. 

If that wasn't enough fuel for Donovan, he has consecutive home games against three of the league's toughest teams in Portland, Real Salt Lake and New England to follow. 

By that time in the season, Donovan should be firing on all cylinders. No matter how well the Yanks do in Brazil, he will be well on the way to proving that Klinsmann made the wrong decision. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.