Confidence is Key
Remember back like 5 months ago when the U.S. forward pool looked barren and there seemed to be no goals in sight? Weep no more, America, for the harvest is bountiful and the soccer gods compassionate.
Diving header from @JmoSmooth13! 1-0. #SEAvVAN https://t.co/hQtqPmRdFe— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 17, 2016
HT: Michael Bradley with a beautiful run late in the half.— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 18, 2016
It's 2-1 #RBNY at the break https://t.co/QJpPjpZYb6
Saturday's word: selflessness pic.twitter.com/uDNLsuHqYV— Ethan Finlay (@EthanFinlay13) September 18, 2016
FT: @JozyAltidore's second-half brace brings @torontofc back for a 3-3 draw https://t.co/GFvz7REdqn— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 18, 2016
AND ONE MORE TIME FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK
.@JozyAltidore https://t.co/s8qJVpgg93— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 18, 2016
This is in addition to goals from Bobby Boswell, Chris Pontius, Tommy McNamara, Khiry Shelton, Kelyn Rowe, and a certain American who will be named later on in this article. Yeah, it was a pretty good week.
Keep It On Juan
Juan Agudelo looks like a player intent on making good of the spot he’s been given.
For those that missed it, here's Juan Agudelo's opening goal of #USOC2016 - great turn https://t.co/qLHAYGemyy— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) September 14, 2016
Agudelo scored 2 in the midweek U.S. Open Cup final (a losing effort for the Revs, ultimately) , and added another assist on the weekend in New England’s 3-1 win over Montreal. Most impressive has been Agudelo’s hunger to keep pushing for goal despite changing lineups and circumstances, sometimes playing as a long forward, sometimes playing in a two-forward set with Lee Nguyen providing some false-9 trickery, and other times in an out-and-out striker pairing with Kei Kamara. Through that, Agudelo has stayed productive.
In his last four games (really just 3 games and change) Juan Agudelo has 4 goals and 2 assists. #MTLvNE— Matthew Doyle (@MLSAnalyst) September 17, 2016
That’s a brilliant stat line, not even mentioning the fact that Agudelo hit post twice in that game against Montreal as well. 5 months ago, folks would be clamoring for Agudelo to get a shot with the national side again. As it stands, the striker picture is much cloudier now. When everybody is scoring, it’s hard to break in. But if Agudelo can sustain that form through the rest of the season, there’s a good money on him at least getting an invite to January camp.
Landon to the Rescue
Landon Donovan didn’t seem to have some hidden agenda behind coming back to play out the rest of the season. He’s getting paid a substantial amount of money, but not anything that would measure up to money from sponsorships or commercials he’s already in. There’s no way he’s really measuring up a surprise return to the national team. He just saw a bunch of players on his beloved Galaxy get hurt, and he felt he still had something to give in their hour of need.
Here's Landon Donovan's first goal since his comeback (via @foxsoccer) https://t.co/U30VJIL047— SB Nation Soccer (@SBNationSoccer) September 18, 2016
It’s nothing inherently special, but it epitomizes the value Donovan has to the Galaxy right now. I like Raul Mendiola and his energy, and Emmanuel Boateng has speed to burn. I’m not even sure if Donovan’s burst beats either of those two going forward the rest of the season, and it certainly wouldn’t over 90 minutes. But Donovan’s experience and soccer brain brings a layer of depth sorely missing with the squad injuries LA faced. Donovan plays the quick 1-2 with Robbie Rogers, sees his marker pull up, and immediately gets himself into the open space for a look at goal. That’s just smart, opportunistic soccer, seeing the chance before it fully develops and making sure you’re a part of it. That got the Galaxy a point away from home, and don’t be surprised if Donovan’s name pops up on the scoresheet a couple more times this fall.