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Redemption for Donovan Brings Greater Expectations

There was much to be excited about for U.S. soccer fans after Landon Donovan's emphatic hat trick led the U.S. men's national team past Ecuador, 3-1, in Tampa on Sunday. If Donovan could start showing that kind of form, producing the type of finishes he did, he would easily solidify the title of this country's best player. The sheer quality of each of his goals, the first inside the first 40 seconds and then two within a minute of each other midway through the second half, will have L.A. Galaxy fans salivating over the prospect of Becks and Donovan linking up this summer.

Like Ronaldinho (but on a much smaller scale, of course), Donovan has endured more than his fair share of criticism in the last year or so, particularly for his inept World Cup performance. If anything else, the talented striker proved the American press right on Sunday: he is capable of more-it's almost scary how effective a confident Landon Donovan can be.

Aside from that dominating performance, which was complimented by an impressive Benny Feilhaber in center midfield, former national team coach Bruce Arena didn't sound all that impressed: "Landon makes a coach look good on days like this," he said throughout the ESPN broadcast. But that's what great players are capable of; indeed, the lack of so-called "great players" is often singled out as the national team's main problem. It's certainly what was lacking last summer in Germany.

Read the whole story at Orlando Sentinel »

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