Landon Donovan made a substitute appearance in Bayern Munich's friendly against FSV Mainz tonight, scoring just ten minutes after stepping onto the field. Then in the 90th minute, he scored again! That makes three winter friendlies in which Donovan has scored a total of four goals for the Bavarian giants - a strong statement that he plans for this stint in Germany to be much different than previous ones.
Just five days before their German Cup match against VFB Stuttgart, Bayern appears to be firing on all cylinders, putting five past Mainz in a 5-0 romp.
And as promised earlier, here is a better rundown on the match from our man in Germany, the one and only Keith Richardson, an old friend from my Germany days. Keith, a fellow Nuernberg fan, used to be part of the cabal of expats covering Americans Abroad for Soccer Times (along with Harris King, Mark Flannery, and others). More recently, Keith is the English language translator for Borussia Dortmund's official website while readers who hang out on BigSoccer probably know him better as Footyfan1
Take it away Keith...
By the time Landon Donovan entered the match in the 60th minute, Bayern was already ahead 2-0 through goals from Germany international striker Miroslav Klose in the 4th minute and Italy international striker Luca Toni in the 55th minute.
Let me note now that I am not a big Landon Donovan fan. I’m one of the few USA fans who still have a hard time with the way Landon’s first two tries here in Germany ended. However, some of the guys over at BigSoccer have convinced me that I should finally totally forgive him. Which I am working on, but I can’t say I’m a fan.
Now, given my feelings, it should not be a shock to anyone that the first thing I noticed when Landon entered the match is how much shorter he was than every other player on the pitch. But I also knew what Landon lacks in physical stature, he more than makes up for in talent and hustle. I may not be a fan of his, but I certainly have an open mind and I am fair whether dishing out praise or criticism.
Having said all of this, you will understand why I was laughing my head off on the 70th minute of the match when Landon scored on a HEADER of all things after a cross from Italian Massimo Oddo out on the left wing. Oddo’s cross went over Bayern’s Germany international midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger in the middle of the Mainz penalty area. And before you ask, no, not all of Bayern’s players are internationals, but the majority of them are! Anyhow, as the ball flew over Schweinsteiger, Landon was behind him unmarked and Landon then put a perfect header into the left corner of the Mainz goal to give Bayern a 3-0 lead.
Two minutes later, the aforementioned Schweinsteiger raised Bayern’s lead to 4-0 after simply tapping the ball in from about eight yards out after a nice cross from Bayern’s Germany international midfielder Tim Borowski.
In the 82nd minute of the match, Donovan, who has had quite impressive performances in his test matches for Bayern, put the ball in the back of the Mainz net once again. However, before he could even begin to celebrate, he noticed the lineman’s flag up. The call was a tight one, but television replays confirmed the call was correct.
However, on this night, Donovan was not going to be denied his second goal. Just before the end of the 90 minutes, a pass was pulled back to Donovan who had just entered the Mainz penalty area. Landon put a blast straight at Mainz goalkeeper Christian Wetklo. However, the shot was so hard, that Wetklo, despite getting his hand up in time, allowed the ball to deflect off his hands and just behind him before he could slap it back into play. The Mainz defense played on as if the ball never crossed the line, but the same linesman who denied Donovan goal glory in the 82nd minute made it clear that the ball did indeed cross the goal line after deflecting off Wetklo’s hands.
Shortly afterward, referee Dr. Jochen Drees sounded the final whistle sealing Bayern’s 5-0 victory at Mainz.
I don’t have any problem in saying that my Man of Match was indeed Landon Donovan. Donovan kept up his string of good performances for Bayern, now having scored at least once in Bayern’s last three test matches. Landon has showed hustle and desire for Bayern. He hasn’t faced 1st Bundesliga level competition yet, but Bayern’s last two matches, against 1. FC Kaiserslautern this past weekend and Mainz tonight were against top 2nd Bundesliga sides who are both in contention for promotion to the 1st Bundesliga for next season.
With Lukas Podolski’s downturn, if Landon Donovan can continue the impressive performances he has been turning in when Bayern starts German Cup, Bundesliga and Champions League competition, Bayern may have a pretty tough decision to make when Landon’s loan expires in March.
Donovan's First Goal:
And the Second: