Landon Donovan: Brightest star

Whether he plays out-wide or up front, Donovan angers defenders with his ability to break away as soon as he senses a lead pass.

Landon Donovan wants to prove all the doubters wrong on the world’s biggest stage

Landon Donovan 

Born: March 4, 1982, in Ontario, Calif.

Position: Striker/midfield

Nickname: Landycakes

Clubs played for: Lauded as America's top talent at a young age, Landon Donovan was bred in Florida's IMG Soccer Academy before Bayer Leverkusen continued his education from 1999-2001. Although Bayer coaches spoke highly of him, Donovan was loaned out to the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer from 2001 to 2004, where he won two MLS Cups. Donovan officially came back to MLS in 2005 and signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy where he won a third MLS Cup and a U.S. Open Cup. Eventually, Donovan got his second crack at Europe with Bayern Munich in 2009, but he was unable to break into the line-up. Everton came calling in 2010 and on his third try Donovan impressed. Nevertheless, he has yet to secure a permanent move away from MLS.

International career: Donovan gives his all for his country and that is evident in his impressive, record-breaking goal scoring record, 42 goals in 121 appearances. Donovan was instrumental in Gold Cup victories in 2002, 2005 and 2007.

Why is he so special? Donovan's speed has always been an asset for club and country; and whether he plays out-wide or up front, the 28-year-old angers defenders with his ability to break away as soon as he senses a lead pass.

His most famous moment: The U.S. might have lost the Confederations Cup 3-2 to Brazil, but in the first half the Americans looked unbeatable, taking a deserved two-goal lead into the break. Donovan scored the second, a beautiful counter-attacking play between himself and Charlie Davies, which Donovan finished was a cool strike past Julio Cesar.  

He said it: "I won't make predictions but, as I said earlier, we feel that we are good enough to beat any team in the world if we play our best. The challenge will be to bring that effort to every game."

What they're saying about him: "If Landon was available again next January (2011), I would probably try to bring him back here." – David Moyes, Everton manager.

Here's an interesting fact: Donovan needs only four goals to surpass Mexico’s Jared Borgetti (46) as the leading scorer amongst NAFU (North American Football Union), which includes Canada.