Landon Donovan Injured In 2-1 Galaxy Loss To Real Salt Lake
But of much more concern to the team as it battles for second place in the Western Conference is the health of its captain, Landon Donovan, who went down with a knee injury late in the 2-1 defeat to rivals Real Salt Lake.
Donovan, the team's assist leader and second-best goal scorer, was injured on a tackle from Salt Lake defender Jámison Olave nine minutes before the final whistle as L.A. chased for the equalizing goal that never came.
The Galaxy striker is expected to undergo medical tests by Monday at the latest to determine whether or not he will face any time on the sidelines. While the extent of the injury is currently unknown, Donovan did not sound optimistic after the match.
"It didn't feel good," Donovan said.
Luckily for the Galaxy, but perhaps not for the U.S. Men’s National Team, the upcoming international break means L.A. doesn’t play again until an Oct. 21 matchup at San Jose before finishing the season at home to Seattle a week later.
The Galaxy came into Saturday's game in third place. They could have leapfrogged Salt Lake with a win Saturday, but they now find themselves five points behind the second-place team and only one point ahead of Seattle, who sits in fourth. But the Sounders have two games in hand over L.A., which could prove crucial in the quest to avoid the fourth seed.
The third-place battle is important because the team in fourth will be forced to play a one-game knockout match against the fifth-place side. The winner of that game will then advance to the two-leg conference semifinal against the top seed. Donovan said that's a scenario the Galaxy want to avoid.
"The goal is to be at least third, and if you're fourth, obviously, there is a disadvantage in playing the extra game," Donovan said.
But he expressed belief in his team's ability to meet that challenge if necessary.
"We're deep and if we have to do that then we have to do it," Donovan added.
The Vancouver Whitecaps occupy the fifth spot right now with 42 points, four above FC Dallas. Should the Galaxy meet Vancouver in the elimination game, however, L.A. might do so with a certain degree of confidence. With a record of two wins and a draw, they are undefeated in three games against Vancouver this season. The Galaxy outscored the Whitecaps 7-2 in the process.
After learning this week that defender A.J. DeLaGarza will miss at least a month due to a knee sprain suffered in a 1-1 draw against Colorado, the Galaxy were already set to miss a key starter for the stretch run before Donovan’s injury. The loss of their talismanic captain would only compound the team’s injury woes.
If L.A. does manage to stay in third, they will likely find themselves up against Salt Lake once more. Unfortunately, the Galaxy have not fared as well against them this season, as evidenced by last night’s result.
Saturday marked L.A.'s second loss to Salt Lake. On the bright side for the Galaxy, they were able to come away with a 3-2 road win against head coach Jason Kreis' men on June 20.
Donovan was the Galaxy's man of the match that night. He scored the game winner in the 68th minute, his second of the match, not long after setting up teammate Mike Magee for the equalizer in the 50th minute.
That’s the type of leadership and skill L.A. would miss if Donovan isn't ready to go before the playoffs start in November.