A few months ago I did my worst piece ever…it was on Landon Donovan.
I’m back to make amends now….hopefully.
I’m not delving into whether or not Landon Donovan is best served or likely to overstay his loan with Everton. My position has remained firm that the MLS contract is a bargaining chip to getting more value from Donovan more than anything else.
No, this piece is about what we’re learning about LD10 as he comes up some of the best club competition in the world, fresh of Donny helping the Toffees to a 3-1 home victory today.
Here’s some quick thoughts on Landon’s play at Everton:
• Donovan is starting to look a little to me like Kaka, in terms of his impact on the game as well as his style.
Update: Skip in the comments section suggests Ryan Giggs…that might be more a more apt comparison.
I know that is a heady compliment, but I’m starting to see his game that way.
One of the things that I appreciate about players is their ability to make the simple pass and make it perfectly placed and accurate. This is why I enjoy Kaka’s game so much. Whether it’s just a quick square pass or a pass that threads the line on an attack it is often, with Kaka, perfect.
I’m starting to see that in Landon’s game. When people talk about Landon’s impact on Everton–and I’ve been an Everton fan for about 3 years–what I see is how his passing and team game play is contagious. He distributes with ease and his teammates are starting to emulate this, most specifically Steven Pienaar, who is a classic overdribbler.
On the unselfish side the interplay between Louis Saha, a noted keeper of the ball, and Donovan has been excellent as well. I think I counted about 5 times in the game when Donovan had the ball in the offensive third and he made the right play, which was a simple lay off to Saha.
The tactical difference between Kaka and Landon…Kaka is a much more vertical player (I think this makes him a little more dangerous) while Landon needs to attack more laterally to be effective.
• Where is Landon’s legendary fitness?
This is a more global observation than just Landon, but where is Donovan’s notorious fitness of being able to run all day?
I think what you’re seeing is Donovan struggling–in a good way–to adapt to the rigors of European and EPL competition that’s coming at him in spades.
So far what we’ve learned is that Donovan is about a 70min participant against the highest quality competition in the world.
That’s not a bad thing, just an observation. He’ll get better. Right now Donovan’s picking his spots, but he’ll get to that “always-on” mode.
• Adding multiple creators equals direct success
With such players as Louis Saha, Steven Pienaar and even Leighton Baines around Donovan, you are starting to see the impact that Landon can have when you surround him with similarly attack-minded players.
As we’ve said ad nauseum about Landon, “It’s the threat of the pass that makes him effective” and Landon’s nattie team success changed without Davies in front of him.
With multiple creators and finishers around him, you’re seeing this on display even more.
This goes all the way back to our third column in our Davies Striking Series in that position-wise Bob Bradley needs to find something ahead of Donovan to unlock his pitch genius and impact on the game.
Is it Jeff Cunningham? Gasp, Freddy Adu? Don’t think that Coach USA is not watching the interplay of Pienaar and Landon.
Also, Landon alternates between being authoritative in the run of play and complementary. You wonder if he presses too much for the States while seeing his actions on the Goodison pitch.
Also an addendum here in case you missed it in our Man United – Everton preview piece:
On Donovan improving viewership and buzz:
TSG had a hypothesis that Landon Donovan’s presence likely increased the ratings for the February 6th derby with Liverpool.
Not the case. That match did a .3….thanks ESPN for getting us the data we couldn’t find.
Seven others matches have done a .3 this year and somewhat incredulously Liverpool has been involved in three of them.
Will the ratings go up for this one now that football is over…we’ll be watching (no pun intended).
Donovan, thanks to our friend Google Trends, has likely increased the search queries for the keyword “Everton.” Here take a look.
Note: As soon as the ratings come out for Saturday’s affair, we’ll let you know.