MMCB: Donovan’s best and last chance to impress Bayern

Landon Donovan (Getty Images) 

The stage is set for Landon Donovan and only he can deliver.

The U.S. national team star won't find a better opportunity than the one that now stands before him. He is on loan with Bayern Munich, trying to convince the club's board that they should side with Juergen Klinsmann and buy him from the LA Galaxy. Luca Toni left Saturday's loss to Hertha Berlin with an Achilles injury that could keep him out of Saturday's upcoming match against Cologne, and potentially its UEFA Champions League match against Sporting Lisbon.

That leaves the door open for Donovan to impress and do well enough to lead Bayern to make MLS and the Galaxy an offer they can't refuse.

There are still other issues that could complicate a permanent move to Germany, but one thing is certain. If Donovan doesn't make the most of this opportunity he won't have to worry about the Galaxy accepting or rejecting a transfer offer because one won't come.

Donovan impressed during Bayern's stretch of winter friendlies, but he has yet to find the net in a Bundesliga match. He looked to have a great chance last weekend, when he came on as a first-half substitute for Toni, but Donovan saw a header saved and a clear-cut chance go begging.

Donovan can't miss too many more chances because the clock is ticking on his loan and the number of opportunities he has to impress the likes of Franz Beckenbauer and Uli Hoeness is dwindling. If Toni cannot play on Saturday the chances are good that Donovan will get the start against Cologne. A good game there could lead to another start in Champions League play. A poor performance on Saturday could wind up costing any chance he has of making a permanent move.

And that is assuming the Galaxy and MLS will even sell. With the David Beckham saga looking like it still has a ways to go, Donovan is faced with the very real possibility that the Galaxy won't let him go if it does complete a deal to sell Beckham to AC Milan. Would the Galaxy realistically consider selling Donovan after selling Beckham? Not likely, which is definitely a cause for concern for Donovan.

First thing's first. Donovan must play well and start finding the net if he is going to instill some confidence and serious interest in a Bayern Munich front office that needs somebody to step up and start scoring goals alongside Miroslave Klose. Yes, Donovan is still just 26, with plenty of soccer left in his career, but he may never find a better opportunity than the one he is presented with now.

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53 Responses to MMCB: Donovan’s best and last chance to impress Bayern

  1. Ives says:

    Apologies for the late posting of Monday Morning Centerback, but since it’s still morning in California, and this is about an LA Galaxy player, I figure it should be okay.

  2. chicagosoccerguy says:

    I wish Landon all the best and I hope he goes on a scoring binge or even just one goal. He deserves the chance to play in the big leagues.

  3. Zarathustra says:

    Nice article and you are spot on. By the way I have featured your site several times in my weekly “International Press Review” which is directed to German readers. You are doing a great job and you have become my ultimate source on US soccer.

  4. David says:

    I’ve caught each of his appearances with Bayern. Landon looks at his best running out of the midfield, either on the right or behind the forwards. The couple of times he was holding a position in the box as a forward against Hertha Berlin, he looked either unsure–or his teammates didn’t look at him as a primary or secondary option. He tracks back on defense very well. His passing has been superb. When Ribery and Landon are running together at full speed, it’s gotta be scary for defenders. I think he’s still learning how to fit in, and they’re still learning what he brings to the team. In the end, he doesn’t look out of place. I’d like him to be more assertive one of these times.

  5. East River says:


    How much longer does LD have on his deal with MLS?

  6. Frank says:

    You really think he will get the start over Podolski?

  7. beckster says:

    Ives, how do you think he is playing? Well enough to get an offer? There appeared to be some negative feedback on the blog this past weekend on his performance.

  8. Steven C says:

    I really hope he comes out on fire.. for his sake.. he finally gets the stage, and I don’t wanna see him blow it.

    Fall of us in the BMoA club. Thats – Balding Men of America.

  9. Steven C says:

    * for all of us

  10. Robert says:

    I think I agree with someone’s previous comment. At this point I hope Becks leaves although, I would prefer him to stay for this season, as this would be a victory for LAG and MLS. However, I see this as a problem if they are to make any money at all from Beckham once (and if) he leaves through that escape clause at the end of 2009. Donovan is in a position where his career, MLS’s image and USSoccer would benefit from a move abroad. What’s better than having the top scorer in US history play in a marquee league and team on European soil?
    Potential outcome: MLS sells both Becks and Donovan. Part of the package in a deal like this would be to get a player from Milan (Sheva?) as well as friendly games. I hope to post a longer version of this comment on my website soon.

  11. J-Bag says:

    Zarathustra: Ives /IS/ pretty much the ultimate source on US soccer. You should check out Steve Goff’s blog at the Washington Post, too, but Ives has really been on point with the Donovan news over the last couple months.

  12. Justin O says:

    If Donovan isn’t sold, when is his MLS contract up?

  13. Nicole says:

    I’m wishing Donovan all the best and hope he scores. He’s got it in him – if he’d just believe in himself. Go get ’em, Landon!

  14. rg says:

    @ Frank

    Klinnsman quoted in his press conference after the Hertha match that “clearly he (donovan), is ahead of podolski at this stage”

    Remember, Podolski has been consistently in and out of form (playing wise and health wise) for the entire season.

  15. J says:

    solid writeup, ives. well done.

    also curious about East River’s question. when’s landon’s contract up?

  16. Tim says:

    Ives no worries we love you too much to care.

  17. onionsack says:

    i think he has already impressed. Its just a matter know of how well he plays (goals notwithstanding) with the team as to whether he has an offer made for him.

    If he starts he should do fine, remeber he only has played what, a total of 80 bundesliga minutes so far.

  18. Jeff Darling says:

    I personally have always thought Donovan is a tremendous player. However, I think he already lost his chance after coming on for 55 minutes at the last game for Luca Toni. The team needed inspiration and he and the chance to deliver that, and he didn’t. Thats why he will remain in MLS.

  19. effmanny says:


    #1 Can anyone confirm if LD is on the Champions League roster? I can’t find that anywhere.

    #2 This sounds nuts, but he may count as a local german on the roster because of his youth years at leverkusin.

    Love someone to shed some light on these two issues.

  20. mcjonesssss says:

    I’m a fan of any Euro league over MLS (a Euro-Snob as Ives calls it), I hope LD can make the move. Love to see an American striker on a top team.

  21. Erik says:

    Is it just me or has anyone not factored in that Donovan played 90+ minutes against Mexico and a cross Atlantic flight just 2 days prior? Could he have been just a bit worn out?

    I agree with what someone else said in that he doesn’t seem to be the first person that the midfield looks for when going forward. Bayern as a whole looked pretty rough on Saturday (I am sure just about the entire team played Wednesday in some capacity).

    Let him have a go this weekend and see how it pans out. No need to get down on the boy, he’s barely settled in.

  22. ACMilan Sux! says:

    LD to Munich is best for Donovan and the Galaxy. Donovan’s heart is not with them anymore…With all the goals he was very inconsistent last year….Shevchenko and Damarcus Beasley would help the Galaxy much more…especially if Beckham returns.

    Break a leg Donovan!

  23. BJR says:

    Nice write up, Ives. Any word on whether Donovan’s loan spell has led to interest from other clubs in Europe?

    Is there any possibility that he could be going to a club other than the Galaxy and Bayern before the MLS transfer window closes?

  24. lasoccer says:

    I watched the Hertha match and thought, like is typical for Donovan, that he disappears for too much of the game. Having said this, his header was tremendous and required a truly remarkable save by the Hertha keeper. Donovan’s other opportunity, a one-on-one with the keep resulted in a weak effort to slot it with the outside of his foot. In stoppage time, Donovan received the ball on the outside of the box and then passed it back. Is this the response you want from a striker in the waning moments of the game? Donovan is brilliant when running forward with the ball, but why does he not have a move to take on players from a standstill? Shouldn’t he have a move at this point? Does he not have the mentality?

  25. Ulrich says:

    If Donovan is on their UEFA Champions League roster then he’s already impressed the Munich front office. They wouldn’t waste a roster spot on somebody that would only play a single game in an important tournament.

    To write the article with the Doom & Gloom stance is CREATING news rather than REPORTING news….. NOWHERE in the press has anybody from the Munich front office said anything about the Cologne match being the last chance to impress or no offer will be made.

  26. kofi_x5 says:

    I really hope he plays well. You can see how much he wants it.
    But, if not, he comes home and maybe LA can get rid of Beckham for just enough cash to snag Beasley.
    That would be gnarly.

  27. Steve0 says:

    BM will only offer $3-6m to MLS if he impresses in the next 2-3 matches.

  28. Steve0 says:


    Ives is right his loan expires on March 9, and unless BM.

  29. Igor says:

    LD is on the Bayern Champs LEague Roster:

    link to

  30. Frank says:

    There appears to be some pressure on Klinsi to play Podolski.

    Anyway, Donovan had a decent match but he certainly should have scored that one about halfway through the second half.

  31. Gerald says:

    What is Donovan’s contract status? If I remember correctly LA only has one DP slot and that belongs to Beckham. Donovan made well over Non-DP max last season as he was exempted last season

  32. DC Josh says:

    Nice article, keep up the good work chap!

    Donny (my new feminine nickname for him) will impress. There is no excuse for being tired after the flight back, i.e. Michael Bradley’s 90+ minute performance. He needs at least an assist to Klose, who is on FIRE, to keep him on the team though.

    The stars seemed to have aligned, I am hoping and praying the best for him. I’m hoping he can finally quiet all of the “Landycakes” supporters out there.

  33. Nicole says:

    Donovan is indeed on their Champions League roster.

    Rumminege (sp?) was quoted today saying that “Donovan is an interesting player, but we already have Toni, Klose and Olic. We generally like our 4th striker to be a younger guy.”

    So maybe their mind is made up already no matter what Donovan does in these last games.

    I think he’s done well, just not spectacular. He’s shown he can play in Europe and I think other clubs will come calling. I just hope MLS does not price him out of the market.

  34. Roche says:

    Not a Donovan fan by any stretch but his header in the 2nd half was kept out by a GREAT save from the keeper. The entire Bayern team had trouble with him…not just Landon. Even on their goal, the Hertha keeper made the first three saves before Klose finally put it in. Point is, Donovan took his chance very well, keeper just made the save.

  35. jen says:

    Donovan is a grandfathered-in DP in MLS, so his salary doesn’t count against the salary cap (after the first $400,000).

    Is it just me, or does anyone else see the possibility of LD vying for Ribery’s spot when/if Ribery heads to Real Madrid? In that position he would be in his element — creating chances for other players, and running at the defense from the midfield.

  36. The Gentleman Masher says:

    No one (except maybe Ribery) impressed for Bayern in that loss. Donovan did have two nice chances…and even on the second one, it took a boot save from the keeper to keep Donovan off the scoresheet. The Hertha keeper just played out of his mind in that one.

    I would imagine Donovan also is adjusting to his super-sub role…I mean, when was the last time he had to come off the bench?

    He hasn’t set the world on fire, but he hasn’t looked out of sorts either. I think it will just come down to whether or not MLS wants to part with him right now.

    To be fair to Donovan, though, he’s done a great deal of good for the league…if it is his wish to leave, and the money is right, they should let him go.

  37. BlueWhiteLion says:

    German Sportbild summed up the top brass of Bayern as pointing to Poldi as a worthy player to add to the playing stable (implying a good person to put in, especially with Toni out, perhaps). But Klinsmann has stood firm in opposition to that view, saying “Donovan is the clearly ahead of Poldi” and would be the first to be inserted for an absent Toni.

  38. BlueWhiteLion says:

    Jen, I have wondered about Donovan replacing Ribery, if he does move on. Of course the move is still up in the air. There are some similarities between them.

  39. MiamiAl says:

    I think the Beckham situation is different to the Donovan situation. Donovan has been the ultimate “company man” for the MLS. He has done everything he was asked to do by the MLS and more! Is there any doubt, that at one point or another, Donovan eventually will be back in MLS? The league grew tremendously, thanks in part to Donovan. He will get as much leeway as he needs to stay at Bayern.

    Now Beckham on the other hand is a two faced, closet cased- huckster, who entered the league based on the false premise that he was here to help the American game get to the next level. I am glad MLS showed him who was boss, and in essence stood up for the league and the fans, who have been judged quite unfairly by the world’s international soccer media. Even a well respected team like Mexico, who game in game out is handled by US Soccer, fails to ever give our program and our soccer fan nation any credit or respect.

    Make Beckham come back and then bleed the SOB. Pimp him for every Pan Pacifc tournament you can find. Play as many exhibitions in New Zealand and Australia as you can set up until the end of his contract. Squeeze every last nickel you can out him this year, and then let him go…Peace!

  40. Al17 says:

    Donovan made the impression a long time ago and Bayern Munchen won’t state publicly how much they like him. Remember German clubs very seldom get into mad ass bidding wars for players and especially Bayern. Ribery and Toni were exceptions and even then those were not bidding wars when compared to other players. The fact that Landon’s getting time in matches tells how much they like him. I expect him to return to Bayern for the start of the 2009/2010 Bundesliga season. Podolski’s issues when it comes to Landon are irrevelant. Fact is Landon’s a great fit.

    Oh, I know a few people whom have posted will have a hard time believing this but Landon is as good and possibly a better player than Podolski. I’ve seen both play an awful lot of games and the differences in quality are about the same but many here will assume otherwise solely on the fact that Podolski made a name at Bayern and therefore must me great and….you know the EuroSnob thing.

    Oh, just because he’s on the Champion’s League roster means nothing. As long as he didn’t play in a Champion’s League match for another team, his name will appear on that roster – same reason why Beckham’s is on the UEFA Cup roster for Milan.

  41. dieterhansi says:

    “Best and last chance to impress Bayern,” while provocative, seems wrong way to frame the issue. LD has not gotten enough playing time IMO to argue that lack of goals is a problem..i’m not keeping track but if 80 mins cited above is correct, thats clearly not enough playing time. Also agree that Berlin GK made the save on the header, you simply cannot argue that Donovan wasted a chance there. I think if he keeps playing as he has he deserves, and will get an offer.

  42. jai says:

    Yes, this seems to be the window for Donovan to show Bayern what he’s capable of. But you got to empathize with the guy because he’s got such little time to prove himself. I would love him to stay in Europe, especially Spain, if Bayern does not work out. Go Donovan, we’re pulling for ya!

  43. bottlcaps says:

    Landon Donovan is a truly gifted player. To say he or the Galaxy won’t get any more offers should he not get a transfer offer from BM is pure rubbish. He might not get an offer from a top-notch club in a top league, but there are many,many,many other clubs who would purchase his services for a lot more money than the MLS could afford. Several mid-table Premier league teams, teams from Spain as well as at least one Italian Serie A team has expressed an interest.

    I think that he has suitably impressed enough of the management of the club at BM, that a offer will be forthcoming. How much is another question and it may not be as much as some believe he is worth. We will see.

  44. mark says:

    It’s been very cool to follow Donovan as a member of one of the top ten clubs in the world. He’s been given a real chance thanks to Klinsmann.

    I guess you could call me one more fan who hopes that Donovan can combine a little luck with some strong performances so he can secure a spot with Bayern.

    go landon!

  45. Mig says:

    Whatever happens with the transfer, I think it’s safe to say that this loan spell has been a good thing. Anybody watching his appearances for Bayern should see that he is perfectly at home with that level of play. If he is signed to a contract, great. If not, I can’t look at this stint as a failure.


  46. JustinG says:

    Donovan has done fine. He has played better than Toni has since he has been with the team IMO. All I see Toni doing is ball hogging and missing chance after chance. Landon has come on and given the team a spark lately. Klose has scored most of his goals AFTER Donovan has been subbed into the game. I watched the Hertha game, Donovan had 2 of the best chances Bayern had to score, but that keeper played like it was a World Cup final. Hopefully Bayern sees that and that he has been playing well given the conditions of playing time and the pressure of trying to impress enough to get bought outright.

  47. 1.FCK - TuS says:

    link to

    Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is against a purchase from Donovan.

    He think behind Toni, Klose and Olic, Bayer should give as a young player a chance as 4th Sriker.

  48. Nicole says:

    As I said earlier – and now the English-speaking papers have picked up on it. Rummenige (sp) the chairman, has stated that they’ve already got their 3 strikers and a young guy from their reserve team(Mueller) so they’re probably not going to buy Landon. And it’s really got nothing to do with how Landon has played.

    They signed some folks over the winter break – all on a free transfer. Olic is free, Tomoshyk (sp) is free. Bayern don’t like to buy if they don’t have to. They usually get players for free. Sure, if Landon were Lionel Messi, Bayern would fork over some cash.

    But Landon has done well enough that somebody will buy him. Of that I have no doubt. I hope in his remaining time with FCB he plays super and scores and has a good time. His stint with them is definitely not a failure. And it’s been fun to see an American play on a big club like Bayern Munich.

  49. 1.FCK - TuS - Spartak says:

    Tymoschuk is definite NOT free!
    Bayer will pay 11 Million € for him! 😉

  50. Anthony says:

    With Bayern Munich doing well, I wonder if Donovan will be at the bottom of the pecking order here. There will be the sale of Ribery, but there also is big money for Munich to invest in players. So I can’t see them wanting to keep him past the loan period – they’ll be looking for players to buy, and they’ll be more expensive than Donovan.

  51. Nicole – Gotta agree with ya here babe…hugs:-)

  52. Eric says:

    Karl-Heinz Rummenigge may definitely be against purchasing Landon Donovan. But, he also may just be posturing to try and get the best deal he can for Bayern. If he comes out and says Bayern really want to sign Donovan, then MLS is going to up the ante. It’s a good move by Rummenigge either way.