Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Rebirth of Landon Donovan

The USA's dominant 3-1 victory Sunday over Ecuador's A team at Raymond James Stadium was the most impressive performance by Landon Donovan since the early stages of World Cup 2006 qualifying. Donovan simply put has regained his confidence and has taken the criticism that many US fans including myself have lobbed at him to heart. Donovan's hat trick (which believe it or not should have been a four or five goal outburst since both he and Demarcus
Beasley were taken down in the box on separate plays with no fouls called.) and dominant attacking midfield play were signs that Donovan is taking his responsibility as the US' new #10 and best goal scorer seriously.

Donovan, long considered the most talented American player had a woeful World Cup 2006. What made Donovan's World Cup all the more disappointing was the build up and hype he has received in the lead in to Germany 2006. For the first time ever, a Soccer player in the United States had achieved superstar status. Donovan was on the cover of magazines and even on an advertisement in Times Square. Donovan it seemed was the great hope to make Soccer a mainstream American sport.

Then came Germany 2006, and a disappointing first round exit for Team USA. Donovan's play in 2006 was a serious step back from his spunky, spirited play as a 20 year old at Korea/Japan 2002. Donovan's failure to stick it out in the Bundesliga when he wasn't getting regular game action and his return to MLS, emboldened his critics including myself. After returning to the MLS, Donovan went 19 consecutive national team games without scoring a goal. That dubious streak culminated in a lackadaisical performance as the US was eliminated from the World Cup by Ghana.

This year Donovan got married to his longtime actress girlfriend on New Years Day and has celebrated by scoring five goals in three games for the National Team. If Donovan can continue his current form, expect to see the top European clubs tempt MLS into selling Donovan. However, with David Beckham slated to become a teammate of Donovan's in July, I wouldn't bet on him leaving MLS anytime soon.
Donovan's resurgence is good news for US Soccer. Regardless of how many other players such as Carlos Bocanegra, DeMarcus Beasley or Clint Dempsey we try and make superstars out of, Donovan is without equals among American players both in talent and skill level. He's the most talented player this nation has ever produced and hopefully as Donovan just celebrated his 25th birthday, he's beginning to reach the prime of his career as well.


Anonymous said...

He'll never ever again play in Europe.

Sams Army said...

This year guys who play in MLS have scored 8 goals for the USA

Those playing in Europe have scored none.

I rest my case.

Harvey said...

Donovan had a great game but his continued time in MLS away from regular competitive training and matches further retards his development versus his potential. He is our best player but if he got his rear end to Europe and swam with the big boys he could be one of the best attacking midfielders on the planet.

Hernandez said...

You miss Blanco scoring duo for Mexico today in a big win over Paraguay. Santa Cruz score late for paraguay but we win anyhow. 2-1 mexico.

donovan was determination today. wanted to show all the people bad mouthing him on this page and others where you can place it. he will dominate gold cup and copa america if he play this way.

Joe said...

Kartik- You'll be totally shocked. The Soccer hater I am was super nervous before the Gator game and I sat and watched this soccer match since nothing else was on and I wanted to kill time. I actually enjoyed it. Lots of back and forth action, and a great game from Donovan, the only player whose name I recognized. Believe it or not, I think I'll check out some future games. The only problem was the ESPN announcers. Dave O'Brien talks too much just like he does on the College Basketball and Baseball broadcasts. As you know I hate Soccer and Hockey, but have to say after watching this match I'd take Soccer in a heartbeat over NHL. Let me know when the US plays again and I'll check it out!

Rafael in LA said...

I can hardly wait to hear what those smug, ignorant English guys on Sirius Radio have to say tomorrow. They spend all their time building up the EPL and trashing MLS and ridiculing Donovan. They won't even mention Mexico even though they are here in LA.

England once again was humbled this weekend while Mexico took care of business against a very good Paraguay team. Landon Donovan proved once again that when he is playing well he is better than any player England currently has on their national team.

Donovan they make fun off and sing nasty songs about, but quite honestly I could have so much fun at England's expense it's too easy. Much like shooting fish in a barrel.

Anonymous said...

Dude, who the hell are you to rat on Nick and Steven????? They are honest blokes who have given MLS credit when earned but have been brutally honest about the poor state of the league and its negative impact on American soccer.

They dismiss Mexico because as they have stated, Mexico has a huge inferiority complex with Argentina and Brazil both of whom they respect.

And as far as "Landy Cakes" goes, he's a loser who has these sorts of great performances when nothing is on the line. I guarentee he'll bomb at the Copa America.

Anonymous said...

Also both of them know how bad England are!

One of them, I think Steven said England wouldn't qualify for the Euros even before qualifying started. Given that prediction, he may actually think the point they earned at Israel is mildly shocking.

Sams Army said...

I agree Rafael. I've listened to those clowns and they bash MLS and bash the USSF. They probably have no clue Mexico even exists! All they talk about is England and Spain.

Torres said...

A great game for Donovan and Bradley!