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The Rebirth of Landon Donovan

p1 032507 usa getty 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.

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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
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