Record-tying Landon Donovan sets bar for MLS Week 29 standouts
Landon Donovan has played with the flair and enthusiasm of a player in his prime the last few weeks. Of course, he’s supposedly past the peak of his career in his final season, but Donovan has always played best when he feels no burden.
Having already broken the MLS regular-season goalscoring record in 2014, he also tied the regular-season assist record with three on Sunday night in a 4-0 win against the New York Red Bulls. Donovan now holds the record with Steve Ralston, as both assisted 135 goals in their MLS careers.
Before the match, he led MLS in assists this season, and now his single-season career-best 18 is four more than Portland's Diego Valeri has. Donovan also scored on Sunday, giving him a role in each of LA’s four goals.
One record that Donovan probably wouldn’t mind breaking: most MLS Cups won by a single player. Currently, he’s tied with Jeff Agoos and Brian Mullan on five titles, but if LA continues its upward trajectory, Donovan could be on the way to No. 6 in his swan-song season.
Donovan is joined by 10 others on this week’s MLS Best XI:
Planet Fútbol MLS Best XI — Week 29
• Jeff Attinella (Real Salt Lake): RSL may have lost, 2-1, to Vancouver, but it wasn’t because of Attinella. He made seven saves, including a Pedro Morales penalty, before Morales scored on his second attempt from the spot and on a cheeky deflection from inside the six-yard box.
• Nick Hagglund (Toronto FC): After a poor giveaway that led to Portland’s first goal, Hagglund battled back to score twice in Toronto’s 3-2 win over the Timbers. His short memory and ability to bounce back directly affected the result, bringing TFC back from a 2-0 early deficit.
• Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake): Borchers scored RSL’s only goal against Vancouver. Defensively, he led the team with five tackles and also made four interceptions.
• Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United): In a win by the slimmest margin over Philadelphia, Birnbaum anchored D.C.’s back line with 15 clearances. He also had the second-highest passing percentage in the match among starters, with 86 percent of his 36 attempts finding a teammate.
• Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew): Trapp completed 90 percent of his passes in a 2-0 win over Montreal, working in tandem with Federico Higuaín to dictate play for the Crew. Trapp assisted the game-winning goal, threading a through ball beyond the defense in just the second minute to Ethan Finlay.
• Michael Bradley (Toronto FC): Besides his game-winning goal in the 89th minute, Bradley also created three goalscoring opportunities and completed 86 percent of his passes. He varied long and short passes to great effect to unlock the Portland defense.
• Pedro Morales (Vancouver Whitecaps): After missing his first penalty attempt against Real Salt Lake, Morales stepped up again on the second his team won and put it away. Then, he scored a goal from the run of play to cap Vancouver’s vital win, which put the Whitecaps back in a playoff spot.
• David Texeira (FC Dallas): Texeira scored twice in Dallas’ 3-1 win over the Sounders in midweek. He hadn’t started a match since May, but when he had his opportunity Wednesday, he took full advantage.
• Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy): Donovan scored a goal and assisted the other three in the Galaxy’s 4-0 win over New York. His final season in MLS marches on toward a storybook ending, as both he and the team around him are getting hot as the playoffs draw ever closer.
• Obafemi Martins (Seattle Sounders): Martins scored twice and added an assist as Seattle defeated Chivas, 4-2. His 14th and 15th goals of the season broke Seattle’s single-season franchise record.
• Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy): Keane scored the first and final goals in the Galaxy's big win over New York. The first was another sublime effort that Keane has come to be known for, calmly rounding a defender before chipping a ball over the goalkeeper and inside the far post.