It was a record that previously stood for 12 years. And like every other scoring measure in U.S. Soccer history, he was bound to break it.
On this date eight years ago – January 19, 2008, to be precise – a then 25 year-old Landon Donovan set the all-time Men’s National Team goal-scoring record when he scored for the 35th time in international competition, surpassing Eric Wynalda.
Donovan’s record-breaking tally came as part of the annual January camp when his 48th minute penalty-kick secured the MNT’s 2-0 win against Sweden in a friendly in front of his home-town fans at StubHub Center (then known as The Home Depot Center), in Carson, California.
After the game, a most unusual and unexpected question arose: had he actually broken the record?
The controversy lasted until March of that year when the history maker was declared ‘officially’ official, since at the time there was discrepancy that had to be settled. The previous year – on Jan. 20, 2007 – Donovan had scored in a 3-1 win against Denmark on the same pitch. However, the visitors had not registered the match as an ‘A’ international, which is necessary in order for caps to be earned and statistics officially counted. It took FIFA more than a year to declare the match an ‘A’ international, thus certifying Donovan’s goal and confirming that history had indeed been made.
In case anyone still had doubts, Donovan went on to score 22 more goals before retiring from international play in 2014 with 57 career goals in 157 matches. Donovan’s record still stands, although Clint Dempsey is currently only nine goals back at 48. The next active player on the all-time goal-scoring chart is Jozy Altidore, who sits fifth with 29 career goals.