Landon Donovan had an ovation-worthy performance in Sunday's win over the Philadelphia Union. (Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Landon Donovan’s record-breaking day seemed destined to come. Finally, after a circus of a week in which he was surprisingly axed from the United States’ World Cup roster, Donovan broke Major League Soccer’s regular-season scoring record with the 135th and 136th goals of his illustrious career.
He kicked off Sunday’s match against the Philadelphia Union by finding Leonardo’s head with a pinpoint free kick two minutes in for his third assist of the season. In the second half, he ended the wait for himself and fans by scoring twice and taking the record he had shared with Jeff Cunningham all for his lonesome on his first tallies of the year.
Without Robbie Keane’s efforts, though, the record would not have been possible. Keane set Donovan up on both of his relatively easy goals, and he scored one of his own after scoring in midweek against Dallas.
WATCH: Donovan's record-setting goals, other landmark strikes in his storied career
Any other week, Keane would take the Player of the Week award. His passing was superb, and he set up several opportunities in both games. Along with Federico Higuaín, who also netted two assists on the weekend, Keane is probably the most skilled player in the league in terms of pure ability.
However, because of what his goals symbolize, as well as the context surrounding his unexpectedly early return to the Galaxy, Donovan gets top honors this time. Ten others join him on the MLS Best XI:
Planet Fútbol MLS Best XI — Week 12
• Jon Busch (San Jose Earthquakes): The 37-year-old MLS veteran put up a series of impressive stops early and one diving save in the second half to earn his third shutout of the season.
• Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids): O’Neill scored his first MLS goal on a long-distance strike to help bury Montreal.
• Matt Hedges (FC Dallas): It was another good defensive performance for Hedges in Salt Lake, including a save off the line and a couple crucial interceptions.
• Eric Gehrig (Columbus Crew): Gehrig carried the Crew back line in a shutout win over Chicago.
• Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution): The youngster scored a goal and added an assist in New England’s win over D.C.
• Khari Stephenson (San Jose Earthquakes): Stephenson scored twice, first on an indirect free kick and then on a penalty, to bury Houston.
• Federico Higuaín (Columbus Crew): Columbus scored twice on Saturday, and as usual, it was the otherworldly Higuaín who made both goals happen with his playmaking ability behind the Crew’s front line.
• Dillon Powers (Colorado Rapids): Powers scored half of his team’s goals in a 4-1 romp over the Impact.
• Fabián Espindola (D.C. United): Espíndola had a hand in all three D.C. goals last week, finishing two and adding an assist on another.
• Robbie Keane (L.A. Galaxy): Keane assisted both of Donovan’s goals on Sunday as well as scoring his own, hitting the crossbar with an audacious chip and scoring against FC Dallas in midweek.
• Landon Donovan (L.A. Galaxy): The MLS goal king scored twice and jumpstarted the Galaxy offense with an assist in the first two minutes against Philadelphia.
SI Now: Twitter is sick over Landon Donovan being excluded from USMNT
On Friday's SI Now, host Maggie Gray and Sports Illustrated senior writer Grant Wahl discuss the Twitter storm that's Landon Donovan being excluded from the USMNT and Wahl discusses if Donovan will be called up if an injury takes place.