Landon Donovan is back, much to the delight of both LA Galaxy and United States men's national team fans. He made his Major League Soccer season debut on Saturday, coming on in the 61st minute of LA's 2-2 draw with Toronto FC.
After years of playing constantly, through numerous national team tournaments and three MLS offseason loan spells to Europe, the American attacker decided he needed an extended break before beginning this season. He hinted at a very long sabbatical from soccer, or even possibly retirement, but decided to return a month into the MLS season with the blessing of Bruce Arena and Galaxy ownership.
Because of his break from the Galaxy, Donovan was not considered by Jurgen Klinsmann for his U.S. national team squad to face Costa Rica and Mexico during the recent international dates. While the USMNT previously looked like Donovan's absence was hindering them significantly, they pulled out two great results during the international period, defeating Costa Rica and drawing Mexico away in qualifying for only the second time ever. However, the United States only scored once in those two games, and was held scoreless in their previous World Cup qualifying final round match against Honduras.
Donovan looked like he was going to make an instant impact on his first game back after he was played through on goal by Mike Magee, the LA goal-scorer, but he showed a bit of rust when he put a weak shot right into the arms of Toronto keeper Joe Bendik.
Unfortunately for the Galaxy, Donovan wasn't the most effective sub to take the pitch. Ryan Nelsen brought on Jonathan Osorio for the hosts, and he scored his first goal in MLS to put TFC ahead. In stoppage time, another Galaxy substitute was the hero. Assisted by a bad defensive header, Jose Villarreal netted a brilliant scissor kick to rescue a point for his team.