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Just how good is Landon Donovan? An in-depth look at the greatest ever MLS striker

Photo: Noelle Noble

As the dust is beginning to settle on the remarkable record set by Landon Donovan on Sunday and as his achievement starts to sink in, it’s a good time to judge how good he really is.

A striker will always be judged on the goals they have scored and how regularly they manage to score them.

But for a striker to be regarded as the complete player, they need to be capable of creating chances for others as well as sticking away the ones that fall their way.

In view of this, and taking in to consideration the top ten goalscorers in MLS history, how does Donovan compare and is he really the best of the lot?

He has a shots-attempted-to-goals-scored conversion ratio of 20.5%, which is second only to the retired Roy Lassiter who had an impressive ratio of 22.1%.

If you combine the total amount of goals contributed in a game by any player, which includes goals scored and assists, Landon Donovan has the best record of all-time with an impressive average of 0.82 goals contributed per game.

The next most successful player is ex-New England Revolution man Taylor Twellman, who had a ratio of 0.74 goals contributed per game.

So not only is Donovan now officially the top goalscorer in MLS history, if you study the game and stats more closely you can see that he is genuinely the best striker to have graced any MLS pitch.

Once again – a big well done to Landon Donovan.

So how has he missed out on being selected in the squad for the World Cup in Brazil?

In a nutshell, nobody really knows because statistically, he is more than good enough to have earned a spot in the team.

By not selecting Donovan, it suggests that there are 23 other American players better than he is, or that they will serve the team to a better extent, but this is hard to agree with.

Various critics have stated that it’s about developing for the future as the likes of Julian Green, 18, who plays for the Bayern Munich reserve side, have been given an opportunity.

But when you look at the ages of the other strikers included, you can see that surely this isn’t relevant to the selection and that for whatever reason it may be, Klinsmann just isn’t a fan of Donovan.

His league goals per game ratio is better than 3 of the other strikers selected, so one can only assume that it comes down to personal preference for Klinsmann.

League Goals per game average:

  • Landon Donovan (aged 32) – 0.44 league goals per game

Strikers Selected for the World Cup squad:

  • Chris Wondolowski (aged 31) – 0.47 league goals per game
  • Aron Johannsson (aged 23) – 0.43 league goals per game
  • Jozy Altidore (aged 24) – 0.31 league goals per game
  • Clint Dempsey (aged 31) – 0.30 league goals per game

The mystery surrounding his absence may never be solved, but it is clear that the USMNT would be in a better position were Landon Donovan set to fly out to Brazil next month, and it is disappointing to see the best striker MLS has ever seen miss out on the chance to represent his country for the fourth time.

All 136 of Landon Donovan’s MLS goals can be viewed below courtesy of mlssoccer.com:

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About Ben Ashton (226 Articles)
MLS and Premier League reporter. Sub-editor and writer for mlsgb.com. All views are my own.

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