Staff Writer Phil Collin asks whether this is an early-season novelty act or represents a new reality for the club after Saturday’s win over Vancouver in Carson (featuring one lucky Chivas USA goal and one well-taken strike) in his game story.
And a class last-gasp goal it was too, capping an entertaining game that had a little of everything: defensive errors on both sides, excellent goals by both teams, the return of Landon Donovan, Mike Magee building on his cult-like status with yet another goal and fine performances by attack-minded local youngsters Jack McBean and Jose Villarreal.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena did not blame central defender Omar Gonzalez for failing to shut down the Toronto attack that led to their second goal:
“It was a long week,” Arena said referring to Gonzalez’ starring role for the U.S. against Mexico earlier in the week. “He can see he was a little bit tired at the end. It’s a lot of games and a lot of travel. It’s not surprising his legs were heavy in the second half.
“He had to run more today than he did on Tuesday in Mexico. He did well, the whole team obviously as a defensive effort by the U.S. team was outstanding.”
Donovan conceded he has some work to do after missing a chance he usually would have put away as a matter of routine just seconds after coming into the game, but also appears to have rediscovered his zest for the game:
“I gave away a lot of passes that I wouldn’t normally give away,” he said.”I’m just not sharp in a soccer way and I’m probably going to need a week or two and then that will come back. … It was a lot of fun. I haven’t felt that way playing in a very long time. That was the desired goal when I stepped away and it was nice to be back.”
I’ve drawn parallels between Rogers and Donovan before and do so again here in part because Rogers said in the interview he might seek to train with the Galaxy. Hopefully coach Bruce Arena and the supportive likes of Donovan will make that happen because if Rogers has any hopes of re-starting his soccer career his home here in Southern California may well be the place to do it.
Rogers has received criticism in some quarters for retiring from the game — although it’s unclear whether he has stepped away for good — but Donovan’s cry for more acceptance of mental health issues Wednesday resonates even more this morning in light of Rogers’ interview.
The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan, pictured second from left above during the Galaxy’s White House visit earlier this week, spoke to the media for the first time today since his self-enforced exile from the game while he attempted to reclaim his mental and physical verve.
A teleconference Thursday furnished an honest, candid, revealing look at the psyche of a world class player: “In this society and a lot of societies we have a sort of stigma that being in a difficult mental place is not acceptable,” he said, adding that while recovering from physical injury is acceptable, mental exhaustion is viewed differently. “It’s a little peculiar to me. … If you’re really in a place where you’re struggling mentally then we need to be more compassionate with people in all walks of life (who need time off).
Donovan said that some had believed his desire for time off was not “captain-like,” although he would like to reclaim the captaincy of both club and country if possible. He also contended he believed his conduct showed responsibility, not the opposite, since ensuring his level of mental engagement was healthy was the sign of a leader.
However, Donovan conceded his loan at Everton early last year may well have contributed to his physical and mental exhaustion.
Donovan said he was unsure how much of a role he would play in next week’s CONCACAF Champions League semifinal first leg: “I could potentially see myself playing some role. I think it may be a little early to say I’m going to be playing significant minutes but you never know. Obviously I understand the importance of this tournament to this club, this team and this organization.”
Hot Dog: A skeptical-looking Landon Donovan watches the Commander-in-Chief display his command of a soccer ball at a White House ceremony today honoring the championship-winning LA Kings and LA Galaxy (AP Photo).
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann doesn’t sound fazed by the criticism he and his team faced last week ahead of the Costa Rica game and now it’s his Mexican counterpart on the hot seat after blowing a two-goal lead against Honduras.
Where are you going to watch this one — and with who?
I definitely told a guy that I had plans tonight and I was too busy to go out with him.And by plans I mean #USAvMEX.#SorryImNotSorry.
You can watch the ceremony, which will also the NHL champion LA Kings, beginning at 10: 35 a.m. here.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter already know Landon Donovan will rejoin the team for the occasion. Presumably, Donovan will stay with the two-time defending MLS champion for its road trip that includes a game Saturday in Toronto as he works toward match fitness.