Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Politics, parts and partiality
The Republican campaign manager has accused the NY Times of no longer being a "journalistic organization".
It's not that often that I identify too much with an old gray lady, but in some ways I feel I've fielded some similar criticism when I write about Landon Donovan, the whole "if you're not attacking him, you're not objective" spin.
It's puzzled me that there's such polarity on Landon, however, when he plays a very different part than any candidate in this political season. He's certainly not going to be in charge of anything other than how he plays. No one has to choose him at the expense of anyone else - people can have a favorite USMNT player without denigrating Landon's accomplishments. He's simply a soccer player - and by any measurable degree of performance, a good one.
19 goals, 8 assists, in 20 games.
For comparison, Cuauhtemoc Blanco is renowned (rightly so) as a playmaker, and he has 7 assists this season. Guillermo Barros Schellotto more than doubles Donovan's assist total (18), but LD more than triples GBS's goal output(6). Both CB and GBS have also played a few more games than LD this MLS season. With the U.S. national team, the stats are even more staggering - at barely over quarter-life, LD holds the U.S. records for both all-time goals and assists.
I'm often asked to write about LD because I'm local to LA. Part of my job isn't just to report, but also to analyze. My opinion of Landon is that he's a good player who is near his peak right now. It amused me to hear LD say nearly the same thing.
But my point about LD going overseas has long been thus - it's too late to make him any better. He is, I believe, as good as he gets right now. Going abroad and doing well there won't be doing well because he's abroad, it will be simply the same guy doing well abroad. Going abroad and playing badly will probably illustrate something about the MLS level, as well as how much Landon relies on feeling settled to play well. There's a lot of good players in MLS who fail to do well abroad, for whatever reason.
In other words, if he fails abroad or if he succeeds, Landon is still essentially the same player. Whether the hype about him goes up or down and whether anyone changes their opinion of him based on the outside context of where he plays is another matter.