September 6, 2013
By Michael Lewis
AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME
Donovan: 'this is the best I've ever played'
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- Here's some bad news for opponents of the U.S. National Team and LA Galaxy:
|Landon Donovan says that he is playing the best soccer of his career.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Landon Donovan says that he is playing the best soccer of his career.
That is not exactly what the Costa Rican National Team wanted to hear on the eve of its crucial World Cup qualifier against the U.S. at Estadio Nacional on Friday night (beIN, 10 p.m. ET).
“I guess if I had to evaluate, I’d say this is the best I’ve ever played,” Donovan said on Thursday. “The energy I had when I was 20 is pretty close to being matched now, but I have the experience of all the years. Everything has really slowed down for me now. I see everything very clearly on the field. Everything sort of makes sense.
“Not every play is perfect, but I feel like every time I get the ball I have a real chance to impact the game. That’s a great feeling. I’m just going to keep enjoying it.”
Of course, the 31-year-old Donovan is coming off a sparkling return to the national side with a magnificent performance in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July. Donovan demonstrated he had not lost a beat, scoring five goals and creating seven others en route the Golden Bowl as the U.S. captured the title.
The U.S. (4-1-1, 13 points) has rolled into first place in the CONCACAF hexagonal without Donovan playing in the opening six games. But that doesn't mean the U.S. doesn't need the talented 31-year-old in the four remaining matches and at Brazil 2014.
“If we want to play more than three games at a World Cup, we need Landon,” midfielder Michael Bradley said. “Whether that’s as a starter as a reserve, who knows. The same holds true for any of us. If we’re going to be a team that goes to Brazil next year and has a real chance of making a good run at things, we need him around.”
While Donovan was exceling with in the Gold Cup, it essentially was with the B team. He is now with the A team, ready to suit up for a World Cup qualifier for the first time since a 1-1 tie in Guatemala on June 12, 2012. That's 420 days ago come Friday.
"I know those guys well," he said. "It's easy to integrate off the field."
On the field, it has not been easy to stop Donovan, given his recent performances.