Landon Donovan Memories: 2002 World Cup (VIDEO)


SUWON, SOUTH KOREA – JUNE 05: WM 2002 in JAPAN und KOREA, Suwon; GRUPPE D/USA – PORTUGAL (USA – POR) 3:2; Landon DONOVAN/USA (Photo by Henri Szwarc/Bongarts/Getty Images)

It’s hard to believe it’s been 12 years since the United States’ most successful World Cup.  I hadn’t yet started High School.  Nelly’s “Hot in Here” was blasting over the airways and the first Spider-Man movie was in theaters.  I was just a youngster who still thought that maybe someday I would be a professional soccer, basketball, and football player (that’s right, all three, wow I was naïve). 

Live Feed

Who are the all-time top goal scorers in MLS history?
Who are the all-time top goal scorers in MLS history? /

MLS Multiplex

  • The LA Galaxy are far out of the MLS Solar SystemMLS Multiplex
  • Former USMNT head coach takes over at South KoreaFanSided
  • LA Galaxy trio among National Soccer HOF 1st year eligible playersThe View from Avalon
  • San Diego Loyal: Landon Donovan did the right thingMLS Multiplex
  • MLS: Top 5 attacking midfielders in league historyMLS Multiplex
  • That World Cup was special.  Not only did the USA make an incredible run all the way to the quarter-final and knock off Portugal and arch-rival Mexico along the way, but the world was introduced for the first time to our nation’s brightest young star, Landon Donovan.

    In the first match of the tournament the United States was paired up against world powerhouse Portugal, who just two years earlier made it to the semi-finals of the European Championship and would make it to the final of the Euros in 2004.

    The United States grabbed an early 1-0 lead on a goal from John O’Brien in the 4th minute.  Just as the match neared the half hour mark, a US cross was sent into the box which deflected off Portugal defender Jorge Costa and into the back of the net.  That cross was made by none other than a 20 year old Landon Donovan.

    That was the first time I remember hearing Landon Donovan’s name.  But it certainly was not the last time he would make an impact in this World Cup.

    The US would go on to upset Portugal 3-2 and advance out of the group stage for the first time on foreign soil since 1930.  Donovan would score his first World Cup goal against Poland on June 14, 2002, which is Flag Day.

    His goal against Poland was nice, but the US still lost the match.  His greatest contribution came against Mexico in the round of 16.  The US led their rivals 1-0 when in the 65th minute a cross from Eddie Lewis was sent into the box towards the back post and connected perfectly with Landon Donovan and his full head of hair.

    Dos a Cero.  The United States had taken a 2-0 lead over Mexico.

    Donovan went all Brandi Chastain and ripped off his shirt announcing to all that he was the king of American soccer.

    Landon Donovan in the 2002 World Cup

    And so he it has been ever since.  Donovan would go on to score 57 goals wearing his county’s jersey, including five in the World Cup, both records for an American.  Although his 2010 goal against Algeria may be his most famous one of all, I will always remember when I first watched him play for his country in the 2002 World Cup.

    I remember going to my mailbox and pulling out that week’s edition of Sports Illustrated.  Tiger Wood had just won the US Open, the Detroit Red Wings took home the Stanley Cup, and the Los Angeles Lakers were NBA champs, but it was Landon Donovan who graced the cover SI.

    Fast forward 12 years to July 4, 2014.  My first son was born on America’s Independence Day during the World Cup in Brazil. It only made sense that we name him after the greatest soccer player this country has ever seen, and so we decided to call him Landon.