Landon Donovan is just fine with not making the final list for Major League Soccer's MVP award -- he's got a rooting interest anyway, and it's not the honor he really wants.
The Galaxy midfielder/forward, the league MVP last season, was ecstatic to see Edson Buddle's name among the finalists -- along with FC Dallas midfielder David Ferreira and San Jose forward/midfielder Chris Wondolowski.
"Hope he wins," Donovan said after training Thursday. "I voted for Ferreira, because you can't vote for your own [teammates], but I hope he wins. If not, you don't take anything away from what he's done, and I think he'd tell you he'd rather win MLS Cup than MVP. But he fully deserves it."
Buddle said just that, noting that making the final three is "a great honor" but that his "main concern is getting back to the final."
"I didn't expect it," said the striker, who scored a career-best 17 goals and won the Galaxy's team MVP honor. "I still don't believe that I'm one of the finalists. It wasn't one of my goals. My goal was to play well, and this is what happened."
Buddle, 29, is in his 10th professional season -- he's been with the Galaxy since June 2007 -- and he's been a fairly prodigious goalscorer, reaching double figures four times in nine MLS campaigns. He's been something else this year, and it led to a role on the U.S. World Cup team, almost gave him the Golden Boot and now this.
Winning, he admits, "would be great. My family would be very proud, and it doesn't stop there. I still want to play some good, quality soccer the rest of my career."
NO HONOR, NO CRY: Donovan, too, was among more than a half-dozen legitimate candidates for the MVP award. "That's OK," he said. "I won one."
He deserves a spot on the Best XI all-league team, but that looks unlikely now that two players listed as forwards -- Buddle and Wondolowski -- are MVP finalists, and there are only two forward slots on the Best XI.
Donovan, who has spent more time in midfield this season, also was listed as a forward on the ballot. That decision was the Galaxy's. Primarily head coach Bruce Arena's.
"Landon's basically played as a forward half the time and as a midfielder half the time," Arena said. "If we had to nominate two forwards on the ballot, who are we going to nominate? You know the answer. ... Listen, if people decide not to vote for Landon on the all-XI, that's their business."
If the Galaxy had listed Donovan as a midfielder, he'd unquestionably be on the team. As a forward, good luck.
"I'd be pretty bummed if I didn't make the [Best XI]," Donovan said. On being listed as a forward rather than a midfielder, he said: "It doesn't matter to me, to be honest. I'd like to make the team, though."
TROPHY CASE: Donovan has captured just about every award there is in soccer -- including a FIFA Golden Ball as MVP of the U-17 World Cup 11 years ago and the Best Young Player honor at the 2002 World Cup. And add an unprecedented six Honda Player of the Year Awards, the most prestigious U.S. soccer honor.
In MLS, he's won MVP, a Golden Boot (with 20 goals in 2008), the assists title (16, this year), All-Star Game MVP (in 2001) MLS Cup MVP (in 2003) and three Best XI mentions (in 2003 and 2008-09). He's won three MLS Cup titles (with San Jose in 2001 and 2003 and with the Galaxy in 2005), a U.S. Open Cup championship (Galaxy, 2005), three Western Conference titles (San Jose, 2003; Galaxy, 2009-10) and now, finally, a Supporters' Shield.
The team awards, of course, mean more to the Redlands (Redlands East Valley HS) product.
"[The Supporters' Shield] was probably the last piece that I hadn't gotten that I wanted," he said. "But I want more and more MLS Cups. I want the most all-time."
The Galaxy, which Sunday in Seattle begins its path toward the MLS Cup final, coud give him a fourth. The record for one player is five, by Donovan's former U.S. national team and Earthquakes teammate Jeff Agoos, who won five: three with D.C. United (1996-97 and '99) and two with the Quakes (2001 and '03).