Landon Donovan's a hit, again, in his second loan stint to Everton, and his performance in Saturday's 1-1 English Premier League draw at Aston Villa has Toffees fans again clamoring to acquire the Galaxy captain on a full transfer.
Donovan became a fan favorite in a terrific loan spell at Goodison Park two years ago, and he's picked up more or less where he'd left off in four appearances since joining the Liverpool-based club at the end of December.
He's stepped into Everton's lineup, on the right flank, and brought tremendous energy and creativity. The high point was a superb through ball for Victor Anichebe to finish and win a share of the points against Aston Villa, for which Galaxy teammate Robbie Keane was starting a short-term loan.
His effort won praise from Everton boss David Moyes, who looked into acquiring the U.S. star two years ago but found his price, based in part on his marketing value in America, a bit too steep.
“Robbie Keane and Thierry Henry [with Arsenal on loan from the New York Red Bulls] have come back to the Premier League from America, and they need a bit of time to settle because of having a break since the end of the MLS,” Moyes told media. “But Landon has come in and played three or four 90-minute games already on the bounce since he arrived, and that says a lot. It's a testament to the professional he is.
“He was the best player on the pitch at Villa. His work rate was terrific. I played him on the right, left, then down the middle because he was the one who looked as if he had the energy. We've never had the chance to take him off in games because we need him so much with his running and the quality he has on the ball.”
Donovan has two assists in four games and might have a few more with cleaner finishing from teammates. He was asked to assess his performance following Saturday's game in Birmingham.
“With my form, I'm getting there,” he told media. “I don't think I've been at my absolute best yet, and I think I have more to offer.”
Everton (7-10-4) is winless in three league games with Donovan, who noted that the departures of Spaniard Mkel Arteta to Arsenal and South African Steven Pienaar to Tottenham has made for a “difference in quality.”
“But the mentality is good, and I think we are just a little bit away from being special again,” Donovan said. “Everton always seem to do well in the second half, but you don't want to count on doing that. It's a little dangerous. But if we can get the four or five injured guys back, then the manager will have decisions to make, and it will strengthen the squad a lot.''
Donovan, who will return to the Galaxy in late February, in time for L.A.'s CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal opener March 7 at Toronto FC. The Galaxy meets Real Salt Lake in a Major League Soccer opener three days later at Home Depot Center.
Moyes says he's keeping that in mind.
"Now we are going to try and give him a couple of days off,” he said, “so I don't burn him out before he goes back to L.A.''