Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Landon's life

Ever since Landon Donovan started telling us that he would prefer to stay with the Galaxy instead of going to Copa America, critics have been vocal from all corners of this land. It seems that it's many of the same critics who bash Landon and are quick to point the finger at him when the U.S. does not do well but often don't hold others to the same standards.

Still, the criticism seems to be growing louder as Copa America nears, and especially when you consider the amount of games he could miss. The Galaxy hosts Columbus on June 23, the day before the Gold Cup final. Their next game is on July 4 at home against Chicago and then Kansas City at Home Depot Center on July 7. The United States' last Copa America match is on July 5. Even if the U.S. makes the final, Landon wouldn't miss any more games - after July 7, their next game of any kind is on July 17 against Tigres UANL in the World Series of Football.

So yes, the critics are holding up their bullhorns now.

Except, there is one thing they probably don't take into consideration. Landon actually lives his own life. He's not a figure in a video game; he's actually flesh and blood.

So although he would only miss two games, he could potentially miss a big chunk of the buzz and excitement in what could be the biggest moment in Galaxy history and a big part of his own life - the arrival of David Beckham. We don't know yet when Beckham will arrive but if he joins the Galaxy while Landon is killing time in some Venezuelan hotel room, that doesn't seem right.

I asked him directly about the time he'd miss and how it would be just the two games and said he wanted to be here for the excitement this summer will bring, both on and off the field.

"I want to be here for part of that. Aside from soccer, that's an experience in life that's going to be amazing. I don't want to miss that and I don't want to be gone that long, period. I've done it pretty much every year for eight years. I can comfortably say that I deserve to have one tournament off."


A.C. said...

A lot of those who don't take into account that Landon is flesh and blood are also overlooking the toll of playing group games and travel to another continent. They point to the literal number of Galaxy games he'll miss instead, like the rest will have no effect and he can come back and play the next day.

Siva said...

Landon has always displayed an amazing maturity for a young player: from deciding that staying in America is a better idea for him at that point in his life and career to "eating healthy and taking care of" himself (as he has mentioned in several interviews), to carefully balancing club and country soccer... (for example, there was no question of skipping any world-cup qualifier in the past cycle regardless of what was going on with his club).

He is clearly the finest, most sophisticated US soccer player of this generation; in due course, I am sure we will see him Spain or Italy where he shines because he enjoys playing there.

Yes, if he puts club before country during Copa America, he has earned the right to do so.

I am actually a bit miffed that Bradley has not chosen this brilliant and mature player as his first-choice "permanent" captain.

briguy said...

Easy on the Landy-love there siva...

I'm fine with LD staying put, especially given the Beckham factor and his reluctance to let DB take over "his" team.

The other thing I'm always in favor of is the opportunity for younger players to get caps. The MNT will be fine without LD for Copa. He's one player, a good one I'll admit, but his taking a tournament off will just give someone else the opportunity to step up, thereby making the MNT that much stronger and well-positioned for the future.

Anonymous said...

I've never been a big landon fan. I just don't like his playing style, although, it's true he's carried the U.S. team at times.

I belive, it'd be best for Bob to call in a largely untested or U23 team and give new players oppportunities.

Richard said...

Its fine if he wants to stay home. There will be european players who have played more games and will play more games this year competing in copa america and you dont see them asking for time off. But Donovan is flesh and blood and lives his own life, but he also doesnt need to be considered an automatic starter and the captain of the team anymore either.

Anonymous said...

Talk about a double standard AC and LB you are guys are talking as if Donovan will be the only US player to play in both competitions. What about KC missing EJ or TT missing Revs games? Brad Guzan missing Chivas USA games. Beckman arrival over playing in one of the worlds biggest soccer competitions. Cry me a river! As soccer player he should be much more interested in the latter then in the not to far off circus. You both talk about the experience of the great ones arrival but playing Argentina and Paraguay in South America in the prime of one careers is also a once in a chance life experience. MLS had plenty of opportunity to correct this. Think about they actually had LAG sit out all these weekends knowing two competitions were coming up then gave them games during those same competitions. I get the point you guys love LD. Now can you both be little bit more objective and talking about how other MLS teams or players are conflicted or will be hurt by this should I play in both or not dilema.

L.B. said...

Look, I know it's different with Ronaldinho and Kaka because they are in their vacation whereas Landon is in the middle of his season but my main point is that if Landon wants to decline the invite, he should be able to. If Brad Guzan wanted to decline the invite, that would be his right. He might jeopardize his international career but he has the right to do so. As far as I know, a player is not obligated to join his national team. African players are pressured by European clubs to turn down invitations and stay with their clubs often. I'm not saying Bob Bradley and/or Sunil Gulati should back off. They have jobs to do as well.

And we are objective with Landon. We've written stories recently about his own lack of production in recent games and we've written stories about his poor performance in last year's World Cup. And I was hard on him during his brief stint in Germany. Of course I'm objective. It's my job to be objective.

Anonymous said...

I didn't mean to come off so hard I'm addicted to this blog its my favorite. You guys put in top quality post and I can tell you love what you do. But enough with all the LD doesn't want to go to Copa. Well at least let us discuss other players. At times it has come off as if you guys are making US Soccer into the big bad monsters. I comes off as if you want us to feel bad that LD is going to miss all the flashing light bulbs, celbs, and parties and lets us night forget a little bit of soccer. At times lately it sounds as if you saying look US Soccer going to make LD play against Argentina ooh don't you feel sorry for the guy! I feel you have missed many other angles to something that so initially excited the American Soccer community. You guys have wrote about LD's angle but what about the many other angles and voices? It is his life and his career and if thats his choice he should be ready to take it on the chin from media and fans about his decision. Many fans want to know can he score on such a big world stage against such quality competition. Its a fair to be critical of such a highly talented player who states his lack of interest. You both are very objective reporters but on this issue your post have been very one sided. Sorry to all if my post made no freaking sense.

L.B. said...

Hey, no problem. I didn't take any offense. I kinda agree. At this point, it's been hammered home. It's just that there was this little outburst recently about how Landon would miss only the two games and I had an interesting quote that I hadn't used regarding just that.

I get it though. I was about to post an audio clip of an interview with Landon but decided against it. Instead, I'm writing about the Gold Cup.

Thanks for your interest and for reading our blog. And thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. We always like to hear from readers, regardless if you guys agree with us or not.

Anonymous said...

LB: Landon is wanker.

The sooner that US Soccer wakes up to the fact that they hitched their wagon to a loser--the better.

He is a good player but that is it. He is not a superb amazing talent like Kaka, Cristiano, or Ronaldo or Ronaldihno. Part of that is his own quitter heart. He came back with his tale between his legs to orchestrate a selfish trade to LA to be with his lady.

I wish you guys would spend more time decrying the fact US Soccer has yet to develop all the talent in this nation instead of making excuses for Landon's absence from his beloved third rate Galaxy and his fear of playing against and being embarrased by the great South American powers.

John said...

If Landon is all those things you say, then the entire US soccer community is entirely pathetic, because LD is the best it has ever produced.

LD is a counter-attacking MF/F that is as good as there is in the right style of game, like end to end soccer against Italy with 9 men.

His game isn't suited for the tactical rigid German soccer where you have to be clever in tight spaces.

And you wanna talk quitters, how bout US Captain America, who QUIT during a game (Ghana) in the WC after he gifted them a goal? US fans have long pointed the finger at the wrong guy for the last WC failures, start with the Captain.

Landon played a big part and two of the biggest WC wins, Portugal where he played very well and Mexico where he was named MOTM.

He's done it in big games for the US, if he wants to concentrate on the Galaxy for the summer, I say let him.

Anonymous said...

Landon is not the best player the US has ever produced. Sorry but John Harkes, Tab Ramos, Hugo Perez and Christopher Sullivan were all equally as talented at their respective positions and had bigger hearts than Landon. They would have given anything for all the oppurtunities coming Landon's way.

As for Landon being a quality counter-attacker, that is very accurate but there is a long list of players in the world just as good at counter attacking, albeit not in the US at the moment.

You make a good point about Captain America v. Ghana. That was dissapointing. However, the whole team played like garbage inlcuding the vets so it's pointless to over analyze three sub-par performances at this juncture.

Looking forward, Landon needs to just shut up and play for the US.

john said...

John Harkes as good as Donovan, that's funny.

And Hugo Perez was produced outside of the US.

Donovan should play for the Galaxy and all the "wankers" that keep crying about where Donovan plays this summer should realize that these National team competitions are not that important and it's time for the US to exercise some depth and stop relying on one player.

Siva said...

Regarding this comment:

And you wanna talk quitters, how bout US Captain America, who QUIT during a game (Ghana) in the WC after he gifted them a goal? US fans have long pointed the finger at the wrong guy for the last WC failures, start with the Captain.

Whoa there. You write like Reyna felt in the middle of the game, "ah, we're not going to win this one, let me just fall down and get subbed". Please go back and watch the replay -- it started with the poor back-pass by the much-heralded Mr. Dempsey (I am glad to see he's back to good form, though). Reyna got INJURED on that play and Ghana scored. Blame Bocanegra for the other goal.

I don't want to get into the "greatest ever" arguments, but Claudio Reyna is easily one of the best soccer players to don a U.S. jersey, and Landon Donovan is the best U.S. player right now.

John said...

If Reyna was injured, what was his injury? A bruised ego? Hurt pride?

Come on, you gift a goal to the other team in a World Cup and then come off the field because of a little knock? That is outright pathetic! From the US CAPTAIN no less. He should have been darn well certain that his leg was broken before asking off. That's what a captain with any type of heart would do.

Secondly, what was Reyna doing looking for a back pass in that situation? Don't try to shift the blame to Dempsey when Reyna is looking for one of his standard back passes, trying to slow down the US attack, as usual.

When did the US finally score a goal in the WC, I ask you. Less than 10 minutes after Reyna finally pulled himself. It's no coincidence.

There has never been a more overrated US player than Claudio Reyna. Just watch him in the MLS, he's an average player. A tidy little possession guy. He'll look good as long as Kovalenko and Stammler are in the midfield doing all the dirty work, and he can play his safe little possession balls.