The stage is set for Landon Donovan and only he can deliver.
The U.S. national team star won't find a better opportunity than the one that now stands before him. He is on loan with Bayern Munich, trying to convince the club's board that they should side with Juergen Klinsmann and buy him from the LA Galaxy. Luca Toni left Saturday's loss to Hertha Berlin with an Achilles injury that could keep him out of Saturday's upcoming match against Cologne, and potentially its UEFA Champions League match against Sporting Lisbon.
That leaves the door open for Donovan to impress and do well enough to lead Bayern to make MLS and the Galaxy an offer they can't refuse.
There are still other issues that could complicate a permanent move to Germany, but one thing is certain. If Donovan doesn't make the most of this opportunity he won't have to worry about the Galaxy accepting or rejecting a transfer offer because one won't come.
Donovan impressed during Bayern's stretch of winter friendlies, but he has yet to find the net in a Bundesliga match. He looked to have a great chance last weekend, when he came on as a first-half substitute for Toni, but Donovan saw a header saved and a clear-cut chance go begging.
Donovan can't miss too many more chances because the clock is ticking on his loan and the number of opportunities he has to impress the likes of Franz Beckenbauer and Uli Hoeness is dwindling. If Toni cannot play on Saturday the chances are good that Donovan will get the start against Cologne. A good game there could lead to another start in Champions League play. A poor performance on Saturday could wind up costing any chance he has of making a permanent move.
And that is assuming the Galaxy and MLS will even sell. With the David Beckham saga looking like it still has a ways to go, Donovan is faced with the very real possibility that the Galaxy won't let him go if it does complete a deal to sell Beckham to AC Milan. Would the Galaxy realistically consider selling Donovan after selling Beckham? Not likely, which is definitely a cause for concern for Donovan.
First thing's first. Donovan must play well and start finding the net if he is going to instill some confidence and serious interest in a Bayern Munich front office that needs somebody to step up and start scoring goals alongside Miroslave Klose. Yes, Donovan is still just 26, with plenty of soccer left in his career, but he may never find a better opportunity than the one he is presented with now.