By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (May 26, 2014) US Soccer Players – Just days after failing to make the USMNT World Cup roster, Landon Donovan achieved a major feat on Sunday night. Donovan passed Jeff Cunningham to become the MLS all-time goal scoring leader. His two-goal performance in the LA Galaxy’s 4-1 win against the Philadelphia Union put him at 136 career goals.
Donovan already holds several other MLS records. If you count the playoffs, he leads the all-time list with 158 total MLS goals. He is also second overall in assists with 120, just 15 away from leader Steve Ralston.
Donovan’s pace, tenacity and ability to score are legendary. How do you quantify that statistically? How did Donovan get to break the all-time MLS goal scoring record? Altogether, Donovan has compiled some very impressive numbers over the past 14 seasons. Sunday night, Donovan played in his 311th MLS game – starting in 291 – while also amassing 349 shots on goal.
A highlight video of each goal lasts nearly 11 minutes. Below is a timeline of Donovan’s notable statistics and five of his most-memorable regular seasons.
The Stats: 7 goals/10 assists in 22 games.
The Story: Donovan had a splendid MLS rookie season with the San Jose Earthquakes. His 10 assists remained a career-high until the 2007 season, while also adding seven goals in 22 games. Donovan and the Earthquakes would go on to win MLS Cup that year.
Highlight: His first goal came on May 19, 2001 in a 2-0 win against the NY/NJ MetroStars. Donovan scored his breakaway goal against none other than future USMNT teammate Tim Howard.
The Stats: 12 goals/6 assists in 22 games.
The Story: Donovan entered his third MLS season in top form. Part of the MLS Best XI and voted team MVP after recording 12 goals and 6 assists. He was consistent through much of the season, winning Player of the Month in April and September. Donovan also started in all but one game that season. Again, the Earthquakes won MLS Cup.
Highlight: He scored his first MLS hat trick on September 20, 2003 against the Kansas City Wiz.
The Stats: 12 goals/10 assists in 22 games.
The Story: Following a loan spell with Bayer Leverkusen in Germany, Donovan returned to Southern California for the 2005 season, only this time as a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy after signing a contract a week before the start of the season. He entered the season having scored 32 goals over his first four MLS seasons. Again, he showed his scoring prowess – recording 12 goals over 22 games. By season’s end, Donovan once again lifted an MLS Cup when the Galaxy defeated the New England Revolution in the championship game.
Highlight: Scored against his former club in a 2-1 loss to the Quakes.
The Stats: 20 goals/9 assists in 25 games.
The Story: Donovan was in his prime entering the ‘08 season. It remains his most successful in terms of individual numbers. Donovan’s 20 goals are the highest tally in a single season to date and helped him win the Golden Boot as top scorer, forming a powerful attacking trio alongside David Beckham and Edson Buddle. Donovan also recorded a hat trick against DC United on August 28, 2008. However, despite Donovan’s personal achievements, the Galaxy failed to make the postseason for the third straight year.
Highlight: Named Player of the Month for April after a torrid pace of eight goals over four games.
The Stats: 12 goals/6 assists in 25 games.
The Story: The ’09 season was another one in which Donovan excelled – and that helped revive the then-ailing Galaxy. His 12 goals and 6 assists catapulted the team to the best record in the Western Conference despite missing most of June after leading the USA to the Confederations Cup final. The Galaxy would go on to lose in the MLS Cup Final to Real Salt Lake in a shootout.
Highlight: Donovan won the MVP award – to date the only time he has won the honor.
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