This Is the Los Angeles Galaxy: Landon Donovan

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IApril 14, 2010

CARSON, CA - APRIL 01:  Landon Donovan #10 of the Los Angeles Galaxy looks on after putting a shot wide of the goal during their MLS match against Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center on April 1, 2010 in Carson, California. The Galaxy defeated Chivas USA 2-0.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Part 1 in a series of articles on the players that make up the 2010 Los Angeles Galaxy.

In the early history of the Los Angeles Galaxy, players like Cobi Jones made an indelible mark on Major League Soccer and the sport in the city of Angels.

Fast forward to the past decade, and a similarly storied footballer that has continued the legacy of the Galaxy and of American soccer in general is a man by the name of Landon Donovan.

A career that has seen him rise to greatness as a member of the USA Men's National Team, the San Jose Earthquakes and the Galaxy to go with numerous accolades in the MLS, the mystique and aura of the Galaxy's No. 10 continues to build with every minute on the pitch, every touch of the ball, every crisp pass, every penalty, and every shot that kisses the nylon of the net.

Landon Timothy Donovan was born on March 4, 1982 in Ontario, California and raised in nearby Redlands, both located at the heart of the Inland Empire. The son of special education teacher Donna Kenney-Cash and ice hockey player Tim Donovan, Landon's mental and physical toughness forged with unusually gifted playmaking ability was first brought to the world at a very young age.

As a young child, Donovan had a difficult childhood. At the age of two, his parents divorced, and Kenney-Cash's position earned enough just to make ends meet.

It was not very long before Donovan was first introduced to the sport of soccer by his older brother Josh. He taught him the basics: dribbling, passing, trapping the ball, and shooting. By the time Donovan was five, he knew his calling early. Perhaps Josh may not have known it at the time, but he had set the wheels in motion for his younger brother's rise to success.

In his very first game-a match involving peers aged six and seven, he scored seven goals. Seven goals! And this is a five-year old player competing with peers one or two years his senior.

This was no ordinary star in the making. This was the real deal. In his youth, Donovan played a key role in the success of Rancho Cucamonga club Cal Heat under manager Clint Greenwood. And while Donovan was a stud academically and musically (he could do a thing or two with a fiddle at Redlands High and later Redlands East Valley High) while earning a wage as a paperboy, the calling proved too strong to resist.

At the age of 15, Landon Donovan was accepted into the U.S. Youth Soccer's Olympic Development Program. As a member of the U-17 national team, Donovan scored 23 goals to go with 13 assists in 1997-98 to go with 16 goals and 12 assists as a sophomore for East Valley High.

The following year, Donovan collected 15 goals and 19 assists to be named on the 1999 Parade Magazine High School All-American Team. At the IMG Soccer Academy, the USA defeated Argentina's U-17 4-3 combined with a victory over the Tampa Bay Mutiny 2-0.

Donovan got his first big break as a member of Bayer 04 Leverkusen of the German Fussball-Bundesliga. He was unable to start, however, for the Factory Squad and would be loaned to the San Jose Earthquakes in 2001.

The payoff was huge for Donovan, who utilized the high standards, discipline and work ethic set by his former club, aspects that had never been implemented as strongly before. And it was also huge for the Earthquakes, who were reeling from a dismal 7-17-8 record in 2000, good for the worst in the league that year.

In 2001, the Earthquakes finished second in the MLS Western Conference behind the Galaxy (13-7-6, 45 points). Series victories over Columbus and Miami was followed up by San Jose's first-ever MLS Cup championship, a 2-1 overtime victory. In that match, Donovan scored late in the first half.

In 2003, Donovan helped pace the Quakes to a 14-7-9 campaign to win the MLS West. The opening round saw San Jose rebound from a 4-0 aggregate score early in the second leg to score five unanswered goals-one by Donovan, the game winner off his assist-and advance. After a 3-2 overtime victory against Kansas City in which Donovan scored the deciding goal, his brace helped lead the Quakes to their second MLS Cup with a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Fire. In 87 appearances over a four-year run with the San Jose Earthquakes, Donovan scored 32 goals.

Eventually, Donovan expressed his desire to return to MLS for good. Not even a late offer from Barclay's Premier League side Portsmouth could prevent the inevitable.

In 2005, Donovan was traded to the Los Angeles Galaxy, and a new chapter in his football career began. And it started off...with a bang.

In his first season with the G's, Donovan scored 12 goals and 10 assists in the regular season to go with four goals and an assist in the playoffs to earn Los Angeles their second MLS Cup, also his third to date.

2006 saw more individual success for Donovan, with 12 goals and eight assists. As a team, the Galaxy failed to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs and lost the US Open Cup final to the Chicago Fire. With the arrival of David Beckham in 2007, he relinquished his captaincy while finishing the SuperLiga as the top scorer with a goal in every game except for the final against Pachuca.

A strong offensive partnership with Beckham and Edson Buddle was the springboard for Donovan scoring heist in 2008. An otherwise underachieving year for LA resulted in 20 goals and nine assists in 25 matches for the Galaxy's #10.

Donovan reclaimed the captaincy for Los Angeles in 2009 and was met with some controversy across the pond with remarks questioning Beckham's leadership and capability as a team player. The two later reconciled, setting the stage for Donovan earning MVP honors and the 2009 MLS Goal of the Year to go with an appearance in MLS Cup 2009.

Donovan would then agree to a four-year extension to his contract, which allowed him to seek loans over the close season. After training with Bayern Munich in November 2008, Donovan played for Barclay's Premier League side Everton FC in January, scoring two goals in 13 appearances. While the Toffees had an intention to extend his loan, however, Donovan returned to the States for the 2010 Major League Soccer season.

As a member of the USA Men's National Team, Donovan has made his mark, scoring 42 goals in 121 career appearances with the Stars and Stripes. He made his debut with the MNT on October 25, 2000, scoring in a 2-0 win over Mexico. In the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Donovan was instrumental in defeating Mexico yet again, 2-0.

2007 and 2009 will both go down as Donovan's greatest years in international competition.

In 2007, Donovan scored nine goals and four assists in 12 appearances for the USA. And while 2008 saw him become the all-time leading scorer in a January match with Sweden, Donovan set a new season record for assists with 10, registered a goal or assist in eight of the 10 matches in CONCACAF 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualification, scored two goals and an assist at the 2009 Confederations Cup, and delivered the game winner in the 75th minute against Honduras on October 10, 2009 to send the USA to South Africa. For his efforts, Donovan won his sixth Honda Player of the Year and third U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year Awards.

Born and raised in the Inland Empire, to this day Landon Donovan continues to add to his empire of success as a midfielder. Throughout his life on and off the field, he turned his dreams fueled by desire and gifted ability into reality by bringing out the best in what he could do, overcoming all obstacles in the process.

Now, in this World Cup year, one can be certain that on the hollowed pitch of Victoria Street's Home Depot Center, the continuing saga of one of America's greatest soccer players will shine on like the stars in the sky that float above Los Angeles.


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