LA Galaxy beats Orlando City in Landon Donovan's return to MLS
CARSON, Calif. — Landon Donovan returned to the LA Galaxy as a second-half substitute Sunday night, ending his 21-month MLS retirement in their 4-2 victory over Orlando City.
Donovan, the top scorer in the history of MLS and the U.S. men’s national team, announced his comeback with the Galaxy three days earlier.
Wearing a No. 26 jersey instead of his usual No. 10, the 34-year-old got a lengthy standing ovation from the StubHub Center crowd before entering in the 83rd minute of his first game since the 2014 MLS Cup final.
Giovani Dos Santos scored two goals and Alan Gordon added another during a first-half barrage for the Galaxy (11-4-14), who took sole possessions second place in the Western Conference with their second straight win.
Captain Robbie Keane also scored as a second-half substitute as LA extended its unbeaten streak to five matches.
Kevin Molino scored on a rebound in the 20th minute for Orlando City (7-8-13), which struggled defensively when the Galaxy’s high-powered lineup got rolling.
Dos Santos, the Mexican star now wearing Donovan’s No. 10, scored in the 35th minute on a sweet setup from Emmanuel Boateng. He banged in a penalty in the 44th minute after his incredible pass set up Gordon to be taken down in the box.
Gordon scored his 50th career goal in the 39th minute on a pass by Jelle Van Damme, who was chest-bumped to the ground by Gordon in the celebration.
Keane then scored in the 70th minute off another setup from Dos Santos, who played an inspired game.
The Galaxy supporters began to sing for Donovan in the 70th minute after Keane’s goal. When he took off his warmup shirt to don the No. 26 jersey, Donovan got another ovation that continued when he checked in.
Donovan waved to his wife and young son after stepping on the field. He hadn’t been training extensively before deciding to return, but his fitness was enough for a late-game run along the left side of the Galaxy’s formation. Donovan has committed to return for at least the rest of this season, which he hopes will end with his record seventh MLS Cup championship.
Brek Shea added a goal for Orlando City on the final kick of second-half injury time.
Keane replaced Gordon as a second-half substitute in his first appearance in three weeks for the Galaxy, who hope to get their full roster healthy before the postseason. The Galaxy’s run of injuries was among the main reasons cited by Donovan for his comeback.
Van Damme returned to the Galaxy’s defense after a two-game absence with a sprained knee ligament, but Steven Gerrard and Gyasi Zardes remained sidelined with injuries.