By: Jamie Trecker
Landon Donovan went from goat to hero in the space of an hour Saturday afternoon, rescuing what had been a lackluster performance with a game-defining penalty kick. For long stretches of the match, the American star had played with his head down and what seemed like a heavy heart, summed up in an atrocious 13th minute miss. With time and space, and off a fine ball served by Robbie Keane, Donovan inexplicably missed the target with a chance that it would have been easier to simply put on frame.
The final months of this season have been strange for Donovan, a player once considered the golden boy of the American game. So much had been heaped on his shoulders over the years – the endorsements, the responsibility of winning big games for the national team, and in many ways, the spirit of the modern American game itself. This year, the toll that pressure took surfaced in a series of interviews Donovan gave late this MLS season, where he indicated he was considering walking away from the game entirely.