Donovan Should Emulate Dempsey


Clint Dempsey is the model American player in Europe right now. Having gone through three managers at Fulham after rejecting any and all overtures to stay in MLS, Deuce is the inverse of Landon Donovan. Now Donovan appears ready to assert himself in a loan spell at Everton.

Rejecting his comfort zone for a challenge that would raise his quality and relevance as a player, Dempsey has become the signature American player for fans of the European game. His quality is so evident, that he was recently named to La Gazzetta Della Sports’ Premier League Best XI for 2009. This honor given by one of Europe’s leading football authorities, speaks loudly as to the reputation Dempsey has developed abroad.

Landon Donovan, on the other hand is seen as soft and a bit of a joke by leading European football pundits. For all his accomplishments on the international level, he has gone missing in several big US matches and in his previous stints in European club football. So laughable have Donovan’s performances been, that anytime his name comes up on the Guardian Football Weekly podcast, it becomes running joke.

A theory has been floated by people who don’t watch the Bundesliga that Donovan was somehow successful there. As someone who watched every League match Donovan played for Bayern, I came to the conclusion that he was over his head in a league that is not as strong as the one Dempsey features in.

FC Bayern Sporting Director, Ule Hoeness  is a good authority on what makes a quality player  observed Donovan’s work ethic in training and off the ball movements were not up to a Bundesliga standard. He claimed Donovan could not even make Bayern’s amateur squad based on his training and match performances.

Bayern’s spacing and tactics were often times negated by Donovan’s presence on the pitch. Many times Donovan floated inside causing Bayern players to bunch up, or pushed too far forward, and did not track back quickly enough. Additionally, his off the ball runs into space were poorly timed and often led to Bayern coughing the ball up in midfield. Donovan himself gave the ball away all too often.

Donovan’s performances in 2005 for Bayer Leverkusen were even more embarrassing, and occurred while fellow American youngster DaMarcus Beasley was impressing for Guus Hiddink’s PSV side. At Leverkusen, Donovan often got lost far up the pitch and ended up being a detriment to the clubs ability to actually maintain possession and play attacking football.

Contrast this with Dempsey’s work off the ball at Fulham. Dempsey times his runs to perfection and pushes inside and up when necessary. His work on the ball is remarkable also, as his technical skill has become among the best in the English game. So strong is the belief his team has in his quality, that he now takes the penalties for Fulham. This is remarkable considering originally Roy Hodgson had no use for the American midfielder.

Landon Donovan rarely ventures out of his comfort zone. He’s been marketed as the poster child for US Soccer at home, while another player has eclipsed him by a large margin abroad. Donovan has become an MLS superstar, while Dempsey and several other current and former national team players have had the confidence in their quality and skill level to stake their claim abroad.

My sincere hope is that as Donovan begins this short ten week loan spell on Merseyside, he takes the lessons of Clint Dempsey, Claudio Reyna, DaMarcus Beasley and others and really applies himself. In his previous European stints, Donovan has shown little character or quality, and has buckled under the slightest adversity.

His national team form is one thing, but he isn’t a Premiership or Bundesliga level player unless he proves otherwise in the next ten weeks. That may sound harsh but is the reality of the situation as I see it. Landon Donovan must prove he is on Clint Dempsey’s level both mentally and physically in his time at Everton.

86 thoughts on “Donovan Should Emulate Dempsey”

  1. there’s a reason why I don’t follow you at all any more, kartik.

    You so grossly misrepresent donovan – your clear bias against him – makes anything you write about him pure garbage.

    1. Oh, nice to see most people are agreeing with me.

      You don’t need to slag on Donovan to raise up Dempsey. Yes, Dempsey has had a wonderful attitude in the EPL (although his play hasn’t translated quite as well to his MNT performances..he’s just not as consistent and lively with the US for some reason). Dempsey is making a fine career for himself in Europe, and that’s good.

      One thing your “analysis” doesn’t address is: how was Dempsey’s off the ball movement in his first 10 weeks of play in Europe? How did he lift the team in those first 10 weeks, how many PKs did he take in those first 10 weeks? You see, you can’t compare Donovan’s 10 week play in a new league with Dempsey’s current play after being over there so long, and have a fair comparison.

      So your platform has been revealed: you like Dempsey, you don’t like Donovan. That’s fine…but you don’t need to conjure up garbage about Donovan. Just write stories about Dempsey. (Of course, you love writing about LD…why? Because it raises the hits on your web site, much more than a Dempsey article would.)

  2. I’ve watched a lot of Donovan – for club, country, and in Europe. Dempsey has become the consummate professional in England and deserves high praise for that. However, Donovan is a better player – faster, deadlier, and better on the ball. He is the best American footballer of all time – there’s not a remote doubt. With his goal against Brazil in the Confeds Cup final, Donovan put himself in a class that no other American has been in. He created an end-to-end goal out of nothing against the best team in the world. Dempsey – great as he is – cannot even dream of producing such a goal.

    I do agree that Landon is emotionally fragile. He’s a Mamma’s boy, in the sense that I think he actually did get homesick during his European misadventures. He is also a prima donna, and never responded well to “playing in a system.” That’s why the European coaches hate him. He won’t fall in line. He wants to be in a system that revolves around him.

    LD is like a Lamborghini. Fragile and tempermental, requires a certain baby-ing. However there isn’t a more lethal car on the road when it is handled correctly.

    1. I think Peter has come the closest in his analysis. Well done. I have not been a fan of Donovan, but I’ve noted that his play dramatically improved during the WC qualifying campaign, beginning with the match v Honduras in June at Chicago. The Donovan of the last 6 WCQ matches and the second half of the MLS season was vastly superior to the fragile ‘Landy-cakes’ that I saw before.

      I hope he shows that he has risen to a new level when/if he plays for Everton. That can only benefit the MNT come June.

  3. Donovan is emotionally fragile, but to call him our best player ever is SO disrespectful to the likes of Tab Ramos, Claudio Reyna, Earnie Stewart and Thomas Dooley who had the type of technical skills that Donovan could never dream of possesing.

    I do not always agree with Kartik, but I too try and watch movement off the ball, and I agree that often at the Euro club level Donovan has made clueless movements while Dempsey is always working hard with strong diagonal runs and interesting ideas when on the ball.

    Donovan in his previous Euro experience has looked scared and totally incapable of the type of movement we see from Dempsey every week at Fulham.

    Also, the end to end goal against Brazil was nice, but LD has scored a grand total of 5 non PK goals for the US IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS. So he is less potent in the run of play for the US than Clint is now.

    1. True Donovan is a less potent scoring threat-obviously he isn’t a strong forward and midfield has always really been the best place for him.
      Since you seem to be such a big fan of statistics-Donovan has 15 assists in the past two years compared to Dempsey’s 3 and, oh yeah, Donovan leads in all-time assists leader with 42 and goals scored leader with 42.

  4. You can also mention about two dozen other Americans including the much maligned Michael Bradley who have made the effort and then a name for themselves over there. I too watched Landy Cakes at Munich and credit him with destroying the season and getting Klinny canned.

    He will fail miserably at Everton.

      1. Just to clarify, “Klinny” was sacked because his team had a terrible defense, and despite having much superior talent at the club failed to ever have a strong lead in the Bundesliga. Donovan really was a non factor.

        And lastly there really are no indicators that could have you seriously know that Donovan will fail at Everton. All he has done since the Bayern stint is play well against the likes of Spain, Brazil, Italy, Mexico away with swine flu, and Honduras away, and dominated MLS. Also consider he is entering a very friendly environment with an excellent manager. Not to mention that one of the team’s leaders is a fellow American Tim Howard. Having someone there with you that you know and trust can only be positive. Remember the established Fulham player that welcomed Dempsey to Fulham.

  5. You’re “analysis” is so off the mark it’s laughable. Donovan was middling in his performances for Bayern, but nowhere near the disaster you make him out to be. In his time with Leverkusen he was actually quite good barring his horrendous outing in the return leg Champions’ League match v. Liverpool. And I also saw “every match” he played in both stints. Don’t quit your day job, your punditry is vapid.

    1. Nice to see your clueless about football come out in this post.

      Having watched every single Landon Donovan performance at Bayern Munich, he was pathetic. Yes, the team around him was not performing to the standard they allege themselves to have, but when you as a player decide to go into business for yourself (thereby destroying the little shape they had to begin with), you deserve to get the few minutes you get. The fact in one of his first few games he missed a sitter that ‘world class players’ don’t miss he should have been sent back to the states to be mocked at.

      His performances at Bayer Leverkusen were a farce as well. Yes he played only marginally better at Bayer than at Bayern, but when a player spends more time ‘on loan’ than fighting for minutes on a club that owns your contract, you deserve to be classed a wimp. When you allow yourself to make American football a mockery by playing so badly in the Champions League, quite honestly you don’t deserve to be considered anything but a failure.

      Sorry pal, your blindness for wanting Donovan to be better you probably dream of giving him things that are not mentionable on this site makes your analysis vapid. It’s okay though, you can always try again soon.

  6. Playing for a team that is terrible in the league they are in isn’t going to make his career. If his team fails to get to 10th place or he doesn’t score,
    or he does score a few and his team makes the tenth place won’t make/break him becoming a legend.

    Playing great in the World Cup will make his career. The chances that were missed in 2002 against Germany could have made him a legand. Instead he is talked about as the guy that didn’t play well in Europe and soft.

    He has another chance this year, but that chances are starting to fade.
    Playing for a losing team for money or whatever is just plain dumb and will hurt his chances to be considered great.

  7. Where to start with this post? hmmmm let’s begin with you mentioning a Uli hoenesse, one whom you refer to as ” a good authority on what makes a quality player”…It’s common knowledge that it was Klinsmann who forced Donovan on the board of directors and Uli, and when it Donovan didn’t put in world class performances on that abortion of a team, he was made out to be the perfect scape-goat and thus the comments from Uli regarding the reserve team coach’s view of Donovan… and if Uli is such a genius general manager, tell me why Bayern has stunk it up the past two years in what you call a league not on par with the premiership with the indvidual quality in their starting 11?…And don’t tell me that I am the only one disagreeing with this view because even the likes of Pep Guardiola feel that he could make it in whatever league he wants..should he aspire to have Dempsey’s attitude in Europe, YES, what American shouldn’t, but he is still a better player than Dempsey is even having spent the majority of his career in MLS (which I think was a mistake)…so in summation yes he should strive to behave like Dempsey in that he won’t cut and run when the going gets tough, but to base your argument and lambasting on Donovan’s short spell with an underachieving Bayern and what ignorant columnists at the Guardian have to say on Donovan is silly and stupid, the jury is still out and if Donovan puts in a lame duck performance this go-round, then you can slag him because he is in a fair situation

  8. I find it hard to imagine what kind of a twisted mind can come to this conclusion, watching what Donovan has accomplished in MLS, in international play, and ESPECIALLY in the previous year. The only thing that YOU have succeeded in doing is inciting a negative comment from a person who already thinks you’re an imbecile. Your articles have hit an all time low. Cheers.

  9. Kartik, I love you, buddy, but have you ever performed bench presses, ran sprints or done distance work? Donovan is a superior athlete, on par with Lance Armstrong.

  10. and what’s up what uli hoeness?

    if you ‘saw every league match’ that still doesnt mean you know **** about the league. donovan was seen as a scapegoat in all the politcking between hoeness and klinsmann, so donovan got thrown under the bus so hoeness could save himself.

    look where that led, the week after donovan left his last strikers got injured and they were screwed. serves them right.

    1. Yea you know nothing about the Bundesliga, just do yourself a favor and admit it.

      Uli knew from the start that this was going to be a failure and was saying it in the national magazine of record. When he was proven right, he had every right to question California Klingy’s manhood in public. When Klingy was finally sacked, they finally got a manager that has a clue about player management and tactics and almost won the league.

      But I’m sure you forgot about that also.

      1. German football is still the most watched football in the world, yet, very few world class footballers ply their trade in Germany and may who do want to get out. Why? German football right now is worthless, and so is Bayern Munich. I used to watch German football all the time, it used to be the best football in the world, now it’s boring and uninspired. Landon arrived in Bayern with no support from the players. They felt Bayern needed to get another Luca Toni type player. Plus, he was only on a 10 week loan. Bayern never gave him a chance, even though he scored goals early in some friendlies. As for your technical assessments, pure rubbish. The problem with Bayern was their defensive shape, not Donovan.

  11. Sorry, but England goes to the world cup thinking Dempsey is our best player and our biggest threat than Donovan will crush them. Dempsey knows how to score for the national team, but doesn’t do much else. He was absolutely awful the two games and most of the 3rd game until he scored. His goal against Spain was a Sergio Ramos mistake that was forced by Donovan. Kudos for the goal against Brazil. Don’t get me wrong Dempsey is a good player, but he doesn’t show up for the Nats as he does for Fulham. Donovan is by far are most important player and our best, and for those who disagree needed to only watch the previous friendlies against Slovakia and Denmark. His drive, pace, and ability to unlock defenses is crucial for the team otherwise there is no real offensive threat.

    1. No England already knows all they have to do is get a little physical on Landon and he’ll disappear from the game.

      A few hard tackles and he won’t be heard from the entire World Cup.

      Seesh people learn the international game. You might get educated.

      1. Do you have any recent evidence that would indicate such an attitude from Donovan? Or are you just generically going to insinuate I’m not “educated” about the international game because i can do the same. In fact i’m just going quote you because it was such a witty remark?

        Seesh people learn the international game. You might get educated

        1. When I can wake up and come up with the second half against Brazil and the Mexico game at Azteca, try again pal.

          You really are an uneducated tool. Quit following the sport and find something that might be on your IQ level.

          1. Patrick, insults and anger don’t make any points more valid.

            I, for instance, agree with you. I went to the MLS Cup and he was shoved off the ball a number of times by Salt Lake, he was never a factor in the game. Many might disagree but I thought he showed a lack of heart.

            But, I read your post and think what an idiot, I don’t want him on my side of the disagreement. You may be the biggest genius on the blog concerning the international game, but you come across as a total moron.

            ps. I hope he single-handedly WINS the World Cup.


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    1. I agree, GYU. I urge a full boycott and efforts to reach the USSF. While we are at we must also stop this jerk off.

      In the linked post he slanders the good names of Sunil Gulati and Don Garber who have worked so hard to build the game in this country.

      In this one, the jerk off says Algeria will beat the US and we will finish last in the group! Nobody who knows anything about this sport would pick Algeria ahead of the US.

      Nobody who knows anything about anything would say Dempsey is better than Donovan. Anybody who claims such, should have their credential to cover the sport revoked and their website, like this one, shut down.

      1. In this one, the jerk off says Algeria will beat the US and we will finish last in the group! Nobody who knows anything about this sport would pick Algeria ahead of the US.

        That jerk off as you describe him, Richard Farley happens to have actually sat down, watched all the teams in the group, studied the players at club level and then made an observation.

        Since you are so convinced the US will beat Algeria and says that anybody who knows anything about the sport says so, please break down for our readers, or better yet the readers of World Soccer Digest, why Algeria is so weak, and exactly how the US will exploit these weaknesses. I am dying, as I am sure everyone else is also, to learn from your remarkable knowledge of the world game.

      2. Ronald,

        Break it down for us then . . .break down why the US will beat Algeria. This is a sports site, you want to criticize somebody for their position then you should explain why you have a different opinion. Throwing out accusations without being required to back up your accusations may be okay in the world of political news sites/tv/radio but this is sport, things are measured on the field, and you better be able to back up your position. So, give us your analysis.

        1. Algeria lost to Egypt 2-0 in the most recent qualifier. We beat Egypt 3-0 in a huge game at the Confederations Cup.

          Algeria has no player that is being talked about on the trade market and no player that anyone has ever heard of or discusses.

          We have Donovan, one of the best players in the world, and Howard who is maybe the best goalkeeper in the world. Onyewu, when healthy is among the elite central defenders. That is why AC bought him. Chelsea previously wanted him but his club in Holland wanted too much money.

          We beat Spain in the biggest game of the year and finished second in the 2nd biggest event in a four year period. England, Algeria and Slovenia did not even qualify for this event.

          No one except Richard Farley who hates American soccer as evidenced by his slanderous remarks towards our leaders Sunil Gulati and Don Garber would seriously pick Algeria to beat the US.

          I wish like the no-fly list we had a list of writers whose work to avoid. These writers hate America and condict a form of cyber terrorism against those who love this country and our national soccer institutions.

          1. Ronald:

            What about Algeria beating Egypt in the playoff?

            You say Algeria doesn’t have players that anyone has heard of? Well some would say the same about the US. Algeria’s current national team pool includes players who play at Lazio, Hull, Portsmouth, Rangers, Bochum, Wolfsburg, Nantes, Siena, Athens, Mainz, Hearts, Lorient, Nantes, etc.

            I’m not saying that US won’t beat Algeria, what I’m saying is that if Bob Bradley and the USMNT underestimates Algeria, like you seem to want them to do, then we most likely will lose.

            And let me just say, for the record, I know for a fact that Richard Farley and Kartik would love to see the USMNT win the World Cup, but they aren’t going to lie to themselves or to you about the chances of that happening. This is a sports site, there is no need for you to go around bashing people as Anti-American just because they understand the sport they are analyzing and don’t sugar coat their analysis.

    2. Dont have cow man. You sound like young Michael Bradley.

      I agree with a lot of what you said about LD but bashing Kartik is unnecessary. He inspires conversation and injects an opinion to be rejected or upheld. That’s it.

      LD will be instantly effective. Everton is lucky to have him.

    3. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but this post has been censored for good reason.

      Death threats are not funny.

      Now to some of your points.


      Leverkusen was the original European club of Claudio Reyna, and also had Frankie Hedjuk and John Thorrington for a few years. Yeah, they want Americans to fail.


      Cahill, Yakubu, Piennar, Arteta, Baines, Fellani, Jagielka, need I go on?


      You are a jerk and a racist. Go away.


      Having an opinion means you should be shut down? I did not know this was Iran or the Soviet Union of yesteryear.

      1. Now I definitely disagree with A LOT of what kartik says but was does MLS Talk even allow this post to be published.

        Also I don’t think you could go on when it comes to players better than Donovan on Everton. The only ones I would absolutely agree with is Arteta and Jagielka. Felliani had an awkward first year, and has found his feet in his true position of CM this year. He has a lot of potential, but I wouldn’t say his it just yet. Pienaar is good, but I wouldn’t rate him better than Donovan as clearly cut as you do. And the Yak hasn’t been in good form since he first got to Everton. He was injured most of last year, but he was very good.

        1. Tim, I censored the racist and threatening parts of the comment, and I’m leaving the rest in there.

          The Gaffer

  13. I think your post is spot on. The MLS is a third rate league whose claim to fame is that it allows USA players to develop until they can start to get touches overseas. Donovan’s row with Beckham exemplifies the fact that his ego exceeds his abilities.

    1. You are entitled to your opinions, but the National Team will never be good until the US league is….period.
      Just think about that when you watch Hull vs Wigan or whatever joke of a game, they are serving up in Europe.

  14. Donovan’s comments about Beckham being “unprofessional” when he mouthed off about not getting in and out burger in Germany and also has been an abject failure in Europe makes me think he is a jealous, spoiled brat. Actually, I thought that already.

    Landy Cakes also as someone said above has only scored five goals in the run of play for the US since the 2006 world cup.

    Simply because a player has been built up by the US advertising campaign and is revered because instead of pushing himself to improve by toughing it out abroad, he wilted every time the going got tough.

    Donovan will almost certainly fail again in Europe.

  15. I do wish Donovan well for Everton. They do need the help, but he won’t immediately be their best player. Comments to the contrary are an insult to Tim Howard among others. Donovan has the chance to make his game better, I hope he has the good sense to take it.

  16. I am shocked this piece is so controversial. If anything, Kartik was too nice to Donovan. The fact that we are even comparing a player that is a complete failure in Europe to one of the best EPL players on a non big 4 club is itself an indictment of everyone on this comments thread and even Kartik himself.

    Would you compare Denilson to Kaka? I did not think so.

    Let me point out a few things the average MLS Talk reader seems to miss.

    – Dempsey’s strike rate for the national team when Penalty Kicks are eliminated is much higher than Donovan’s.

    – Dempsey scored the goal that kept Fulham in the Premier League in 2007. He did this versus Liverpool in only his second start for the club. Donovan has NEVER EVER EVER played in a club match with that much pressure.

    – Dempsey has scored at least six goals in each of the last three Premier League seasons. Donovan by contrast has never once scored a goal in an official game in Europe.

    – Donovan was terrible at Bayern. Kartik is right about his terrible off the ball movement. One thing he also fails to mention is that Donovan kept pinching inside on Riberry’s territory. Who would you prefer? Donovan or Riberry?

    – Dempsey may seem “lazy” to some USMNT fans who hold him to a different standard than they hold chosen prodigal sons like Donovan, Altidore and Bradley, but part of his issue is that his team mates are regularly in the wrong place on the field. Dempsey is a flair/tempo player being forced into a nonsensical tactical system. He is not the problem, the system is.

    If Bob Bradley had any tactical sense and understood the game and how it is played around the globe, he would build the team around Dempsey and not Donovan or some mythical target striker whether it is McBride, Casey, Ching, Altidore, whomever.

    Dempsey’s problems with US team stem from terrible tactics and coaching. His success with Fulham under three different managers prove he is a winner and a one of a kind player in the recent history of American soccer.

    1. I was not comparing the two. I am stating that going on 28, it is about time Donovan learned from Dempsey and other US players who have excelled in Europe (like DMB, Reyna, Michael Bradley, John O’Brien, etc) how to cope abroad.

      I would not compare the two players. Donovan is far better for the US against CONCACAF level opposition.

      Against top shelf opposition in major tournaments, Dempsey is better, as evidenced by his World Cup 2006 play and his bronze ball award at the Confederations Cup as voted by the FIFA Technical Study Committee, who contrary to the sentiment on this message thread, actually do understand the game.

      1. I’m sorry but I thought I saw DMB and “excelled in Europe” in the same sentence. Wait a minute…I did. I guess if excelling in Europe is barely getting playing time for the Rangers and not even getting a glance from his National Team Coach, then yeah he is doing fantastic! Admittedly, he has had a nice run lately, but he practically complained to the media about wanting to leave his team to gain playing time. The fact that Bob Bradley doesn’t look like he will give him a call-up for a national team that some think will place last in their WC group is just kind of sad.

    2. Footy Guru,

      You are 100% on target in your analysis, the sad thing is so few US fans can see the obvious as evidenced by the ranting attacks on Kartik; what’s even sadder is BB doesn’t get it either.

      Well, 90% on target. In the pre-season friendlies with Bayern, Landon scored maybe 5 goals, but yeah those didn;t count. What killed him there aside from the long knives already out for Klinsi, was Landon had 3 easy chances to score in his few minutes of playing time in Bundesliga games – his teammates evidently remembered his friendly goals and were looking to set him up, seems to me – but Landon flubbed every one of them.

      It’s a woulda coulda shoulda thing – if Landon knocked in a couple of those sitters who knows maybe klinsi’s job would be saved and….but that’s not what happened.

      Still let’s hope Landon does well at Everton, would definitely improve the rep of the USMNT if there were 2 middies/sometime strikers making a difference in the league.

    3. Umm didn’t LD win the MLS Cup a few times ?

      You are going to compare the race to finish 16th in a joke of a league with the most important finals of our country ? Not trying to take anything away from Dempsey, I am not a huge LD fan, I think it is unfortunate he is one of the superstars for US, but he has played in some big moments.

      IF you want to rip on LD, have people go watch WC2002 against Germany…man he missed some easy goals.

  17. lol now I see why you’re being called anti-american – this and the de-ro post. I guess you have a thing against Landycakes. While I think he has been at times and has the talent to always be the best player on the USMNT, facts are facts and Landy’s impact overseas, desire to go overseas, and whatever tactical il-discipline those in the know claim reduces his value to some. I don’t see it as right or wrong, just a matter of opinion. I’ve seen people say the reason Dempsey looks lost on the national team is because he’s not playing in Fulham’s system. Either way Landy has the opportunity to put that right at Everton. I’d say the odds are against him given he’ll only be there 2 months (and didn’t even try to arrive early and train over Christmas with the team), plus the English game doesn’t seem the right fit for his talents, but who knows – Luca Modric isn’t that big and he’s found a way. I really hope Landon excels and maybe stays on until May, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he fails. But if he excels, we can finally say he’s found a way to translate the MLS/USMNT form into a European league. He has the talent – he just has to apply it and “get stuck in” as they say. And even if he fails, I still think he’s going to be the biggest factor in our success and/or failure in June.

  18. The smarmy, know-it-all, constantly negative attitude on this blog is tiresome and suggests that the writer cares more about his own ego and proving his soccer knowledge than educating the public. Every phrase written on this blog is with an air of unquestionable authority, and if someone expresses a different opinion they are promptly voted down or given the inescapable “you obviously don’t watch much soccer”.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that this blog functions mainly as an ego-soother for someone who wants to be perceived as a soccer expert, yet can’t get a job in the soccer establishment and so tears down those who are successful.

    1. So basically Thomas, if whatever written on this site does not agree with you and your dumbed down footballing knowledge (which truthfully, it doesn’t seem like you have any legitimate understanding about football), all you know how to do is bash the writer of said article.

      Listen people, there is such a thing as backing up your opinions with facts. Fact it, the author of this post does it time and time again and does a damn good job doing so. The only problem is, he’s too damn good for this site having to deal with all the malarkey form idiots who don’t have any understanding of tactics (because the only thing they watch is MLS or the UsMNT…places where you’ll never learn tactics…outside for maybe Sigi), or of actual off the ball movement (which rarely happens in MLS or the USMNT), and of the international game (something folks here seem to not understand unless it is USMNT only) makes me wonder why people want to put their stupidity in full view.

      So please, if you can’t back up your opinion with a fact or two; just shut up, actually read the article, do some research for yourself and when you realize you learned something about the game: be grateful for it.

      I’m starting to wonder if a big ‘I told you so’ is coming immediately after full time of the Algeria game.

  19. I’m amazed at the hatred Kartik gets for simply voicing an opinion.

    I come here for OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY. This is not a news site. The EPL Talk network sites are all the same- opinionated writers providing commentary and analysis, not serving as rubber stamps for Alexi Lalas and John Harkes biased opinions.

    I don’t always agree with him nor disagree with him, but the personal attacks and slanders on every comment thread is disturbing and frightening.

    I think the majority of you posters are insecure internet tough guys that cannot handle someone actually analyzing the games and contradicting your options or the constant positive hubris based spin coming from ESPN, and websites like the US Soccer section of Soccernet.

    Again, I probably only agree with Kartik half the time, but this is sickening.

    As far as this post, it is a no brainer. Until Donovan proves otherwise at Everton or some other decent sized club in a top European league, he is not on the same level as Dempsey.

    Sorry, it is just that simple.

    I guess when you say the emperor has no clothes you get nothing but abuse.

  20. So Donovan didn’t arrive early to work with Everton. That show lack of a good work ethic which good, top notch players would have. While I do wish him luck, I hope he doesn’t embarrass us too bad. American players have worked too hard to be devalued as a whole by Donovan.

    1. He needed Christmas and New Year’s off so he could hang out in Manhattan Beach!

      I also agree that we’ve made too many strides with our players in terms of perception for the whole lot to be devalued by Donovan whom we insist wrongly is our best player.

      Once Donovan fails again, every European manager will say ” if he is the best MLS and USA have to offer, why would I sign another American.”

      Donovan being finally taken down a peg or two by our fans and our writers would be the best thing for this sport and the future prospects of our players.

    2. Watch out, your ignorance is showing.

      One reason Donovan didn’t arrive early is because his work visa didn’t go into effect until Jan. 1. Had he gone over early, it would have been on a tourist visa and he would have had to fly back and then re-enter the country on Jan. 1. Lots of unnecessary, needless flying.

      Also, Donovan would not have been eligible to play in their game on Jan. 2 vs. Carlisle. In order to play, he would have to have been registered by noon on the Friday before the cup match…which happened to be Jan. 1 and the registration office is closed on Jan. 1. He couldn’t be registered earlier (in 2009) because he couldn’t officially become Everton property and eligible to be registered until after 2010.

      So if you’re going to criticize LD, please get your facts straight first.

  21. Donovan is among the top 10-15 players in the world. His commitment to MLS, where he has sacrificed his own career and money to better our league allows eurosnobs like the author to call him a failure and claim marginal players are better than him.

    Nat Borchers, Ramiro Corrales and Robbie Russell lasted a while in Europe. Are they better than Landon?

    Dempsey is about to be eclipsed by Stuart Holden. Bradley needs to really think about whether he wants Dempsey’s bad attitude and poor work rate on the team this summer.

    I personally would not pick him. He should be a bench player at best.

    As for the author, I agree with those complaining that he does carry an aura of arrogance and self assurance. But that is what blogs and hard hitting commentating/sports radio are all about. Besides, he’s right about many things like the MLS owners and the league’s awful TV ratings since we have not kept most of our good Americans at home , but he is dead wrong this time around.

  22. “Greatness” shouldn’t be defined by succeeding in European club football. It’s a wonderful accomplishment, however it isn’t as important as World Cup accomplishments. And it probably demands its own qualities – yes, toughness, playing in a system, etc. But is that greatness?

    There are many of the all time greats who never set foot in Europe, preferring to stay in an inferior domestic league. For example Pele. He plied his trade for Santos in the Brazilian league and then for Cosmos in the NASL. Both of those leagues are considered worse than the Prem. Garincha – same story.

    Zico, another Brazilian World Cup genius. Played one successful season for Udinese and then flamed out. Carlos Valderrama failed in Europe, but gave the world many spectacular World Cup moments. Socrates failed in Europe, but was captain of Brazil’s 1982 dream-team. The list goes on.

    We’ll see how Donovan fairs at Goodison. Personally I think he’ll be terrific. As for Reyna, Ramos, and McBride, they are all awesome players. But Landon did things at the last two world cups that none of them did and this goes beyond goals. He is a force to be reckoned with. Yes he is mercurial, tempermental, fragile, etc. But if I am picking a USA all time best 11 team to compete in a World Cup, Landon is my first pick.

    1. Donovan’s performance in the last World Cup was far worse than anything Zico or Pele ever produced at the international level. In fact Donovan was so bad that he made Bobby Convey and Eddie Lewis look like world superstars in comparison.

    2. You’ll have to remind me what it is that Donovan did in the 2006 World Cup, because as I remember it, Dempsey scored the one U.S. goal, and I have trouble remembering that Donovan was even present in Germany, as it seems he didn’t show up for the most part, the way I had expected him to after his performance in 2002, along with Reyna and McBride’s.

      And even though he didn’t score a goal, I remember McBride contributing more and playing his heart out more in 2006 than Donovan’s, so again I need to be reminded, what did Donovan do in the 2006 World Cup that the rest of us are missing?

      Also, McBride was the only U.S. player to score a goal in our abysmal showing at the 1998 World Cup. The fact that McBride found success and Dempsey has found success at Fulham isn’t lost on this USMNT fan and love that both are revered by the club.

      I do hope that Donovan has success at Everton and want to see him have success. Again, after he and the team has some success at the 2002 World Cup, I personally was very disappointed in Donovan’s showing at the 2006 World Cup.

  23. Wow, that analysis of problems with Donovan’s game pretty much sums up most American players (and I am a yank myself) – poor spacing, poorly timed runs, bunching, giving away the ball….this is a systemic problem because we currently only teach counterattacking offense, not a patient and possession based attack.

    I still love Donovan because he’s the best at our balls to the wall style, but yeah, Deuce is better at the spread offense

    1. Totally agree. Donovan plays better for the national team because he fits the limited style the usmnt and these backwards thinking domestic coaches have advocated for all these years.

      Dempsey has much more flair, better technique and a better tactical sense than anyone else in our player pool. That also means he’s restricted in out bunkering, quick passing counter attack style which we’ve played without fail since 1990 when we had much less talent.

      Besides, Donovan went to the elite US Soccer Academy in Bradenton, so he must be built up, while Dempsey whom the elite academies did not recruit and who played college soccer at a third tier school, Furman must be torn down.

      That’s the way it is in the insular culture of US Soccer..

  24. “Donovan being finally taken down a peg or two by our fans and our writers would be the best thing for this sport and the future prospects of our players.”

    Really? You cant be serious. I’ve never understood the LD hate and perhaps I never will. Statements like this only illustrate, painfully, how deranged some are when assessing LD as a player. Whether it’s his passing, pace, or goals, it’s pretty obvious LD is a superior athlete than Clint Dempsey, and a superior footballer.

    What gives a commentator authority is not whether s/he is always right or wrong, but whether the stated opinions are reasonable and well thought out. Kartik fails here.

    “His work on the ball is remarkable also, as his technical skill has become among the best in the English game.”

    Um, no it isn’t.

  25. kartik…… is not even funny you would compare dempsey to donovan.

    donovan is usa leading scorer all time and ran circles around dempsey when they both played in mls……….. dempsey is more a hindrance than anything on the national team. i do not even think he should start but does so because of his reputation you describe…………..bradley should have the courage to sit his rear end on the bench…….this article is so wrong……if anything dempsey should play more like donovan…….when has dempsey scored a meaningful goal for the usa or even played at the same level as donovan when they have been on the field together?…….someone needs to write a blog discussing what dempsey can learn from donovan.

  26. This article is so insulting on so many levels.

    The writer is taking a far inferior player, Dempsey whose claim to fame is a few hip hop records he rapped and comparing him favorably to the best soccer player the richest country on the planet has ever produced.

    Whatever this writer has stated before now has to be questioned. He has written many decent pieces on specific players, MLS, USL, The National Team and has done an excellent job of covering the NASL2 controversy with the USSF.

    But I can no longer take Kartik seriously after this post. He is so wrong in so many ways on this issue. The things he says Donovan does badly, Dempsey actually does badly, and the things Dempsey does well he claims are actually things Landon does well.

    So in other words he is lying and thinking we are all too dumb to figure it out.

    Either that, or this post is an early April Fools Joke. Call it January Fools Day.

  27. Kartik says a lot of stupid things but this post is so well thought out, and backed up with actual tactical observations it is very difficult to find fault with, unless you simply do not want to believe Donovan is not as well thought of or as effective as Dempsey.

    Then again maybe I claim it is well thought out because he agrees 100% with me

  28. Iker, regarding Dempsey, do you agree with Kartik when he says

    “His work on the ball is remarkable also, as his technical skill has become among the best in the English game.”?

  29. I think Dempsey is a fine player and I am GLAD that he plays for our national team. However, I would never describe his ball skills and technical ability as “among the best in the English game.”

  30. Can’t we all just get along?

    This article makes some valid and/or interesting points. However, it is flawed because Donovan’s true motivation in agreeing to this ten week loan is not understood. The circumstantial evidence tells the tale.

    Landon’s success or failure at Everton is a big deal to those who have not thought this through as analytically as they should. Is a ten week loan really an opportunity? No. In fact, hell no! Be real. It is a small fraction of an opportunity. It has taken Clint Dempsey three years to achieve his current, well-deserved EPL stature. Luca Toni played 2nd division before he became the start he is today. Will Donovan be a failure if he can’t dazzle the EPL in just ten weeks? Of course not. He’ll go back to MLS and reap the benefits of his new contract.

    In my opinion, success or failure at Everton is not what he most cares about here. He just signed a new four year MLS deal. He’s set. He is playing better than ever on his club team and he has made the likes of Germany (2002), Portugal (2002), Brasil and Spain (2009 Confederations Cup) understand that he is one to be respected. He knows the U.S. is the beneficiary of a pretty good draw for South Africa. Landon knows that he must play exceptionally well if the U.S. is to realize any degree of measurable success at the World Cup. He fully understands how important a role he plays in this. So, ladies and gentlemen, LD is going to Everton to participate in a ten week training camp that will better prepare him for the crucial game 1 in South Africa. That’s it! Any other benefit will be gravy.

    Donovan and Dempsey are both great players. Each has strengths and weaknesses. It is not about which is better, but about how to extract synergistic results when having these two fine talents on the pitch at the same time. The Confederations Cup run tells me that BB is finally understanding how to make that happen. You can be assured that Donovan and Dempsey will both be ready June 12th.

  31. I’m so surprised at Krishnaiyer’s choice to write this post at all. Donovan’s qualifications include MLS MVP, Honda Player of the Year (for the 6th time), and being captain of both his club and national team, which just completed a successful campaign to qualify for the World Cup.
    Donovan has been given a chance for 2.5 months to play in the Premiership and his performances will speak for themselves.

    Additionally, to cite Donovan’s stay at Bayern as evidence of a lack of quality shows ignorance of the highly politicized rats nest that was FC Bayern football during the failed Klinsmann regime, turmoil that has even yet failed to subside. Donovan’s subsequent performances improved after his stint at Bayern and earned praise for him having reached a new level of effectiveness.

    To write such a post before Donovan has played a single minute at Everton, when the only required action to learn more about him is to wait and observe for less than 3 months, strikes me as stupid and snarky.

  32. Surprised Brian McBride isn’t mentioned, since he went on a similar loan spell to Everton, and did very well.

    He might be a more useful point of comparison, especially since, aside from good size, he didn’t have a really great set of natural physical tools but became a mainstay in the Premier League.

  33. I think Donovan is a poor man’s Arteta, and he would fit in well with Everton given more time. 2.5 months may not be enough to make an impact. I think Kartik is overly critical and not a fan of Donovan’s game, which is fine. I think he is a fantastic talent, but as the article argues, will probably never maximize that talent because it was never tested against the best competition. A handful of USMNT games against top competition just isn’t enough. I wish Donovan was more like another crybaby attacker, Adriano. Bring it in a top league, then go home enjoy the comforts of a familiar setting and weak competition.

  34. some of Krishnaiyer’s previous pieces I have seen his side of the argument even though I have believed he is wrong.

    For instance, I do believe the number of foreign coaches in USL does lead to tactical variety unlike MLS, but I disagree entirely with his premise that these coaches should be hired because they are foreign.

    Also, I do not believe that TV ratings are a big deal when MLS attendance is so strong and we have built several SSS. But he does make a case for why MLS should be cocnerned with the overall struggles on TV.

    However, this piece I just cannot get my head around in any way shape or form. Donovan is like a BMW or Mercades, while Dempsey is a Chevy.

    Donovan has the skill, speed and quality Dempsey will never have. Dempsey is servicable and can get fill in to a spot or get you from point A to B which would be avoiding relegation in England, but he’ll never win the accolades that Donovan has.

    6 Honda Player of the Year Awards for Donovan compared with 1 for Dempsey.

    1 Golden Ball at the U-17 level NONE for Dempsey

    1 Olympic fourth place NONE for Dempsey

    5 Youth Tournament seclections 1 for Dempsey

    42 National Team goals, 17 for Dempsey

    2 transfers to Champions League team and 1 to Europa League teams. NONE for Dempsey.

    I guess where Dempsey wins is if you are fighting relegation and need a cheap player with limited ability, you buy him.

    Donovan on the other hand is still, in MLS because he is a player of the highest caliber and teams like Fulham, Sunderland or Rangers are simply not high enough profile or caliber for him.

    Is Donovan a Manchester United or Chelsea type player? I personally think so, although Everton is a good starting point.

    I almost always disagree with Kartik, but can respect his perspective. He is simply more cynical and critical than those of us that want to defer to our leaders. But on this issue he has no case whatsoever.

    1. Do not forget the cover of SI, a billboard at Times Square and always the player reporters flock to interview after games.

      Dempsey, by comparison is anonymous. A total nothing whose success has come by riding Donovan’s coat tails.

    2. I don’t think Kartik is saying that Dempsey is better than Donovan, he’s just saying that if Donovan wants to succeed at Everton he’d be smart to follow Dempsey’s example at Fulham, which is:

      Shut-Up and Work Hard

      1. Brian has summarized my beliefs.

        I don’t want to get into a tit for tat thing.

        I have nowhere in this post said Dempsey is better than Donovan, but have stated that he has had a better European club career, and that Donovan’s reputation abroad is that of a bad joke, while Dempsey is very well respected.

    3. Talk to the folks at the Guardian. They would argue Donovan is a rented mule while Dempsey is at worst a high end Toyota or Honda. It is all about perspective. American fans have a very different view of Donovan than European writers and analysts. In fact those same European based writers respect Michael Bradley, Mo Edu, DaMarcus Beasley and probably Eddie Lewis and Gregg Berhalter more than they respect Donovan. Given some of the vitriol on this thread simply because I had the “audacity” to compare Dempsey to Donovan, I can only imagine the reaction to those people.

  35. This Kartik article puts way too much praise on Dempsey in the EPL and is way too critical of Donovan’s failures in the Bundesliga. It doesn’t take much to change any player’s fortune from being in the dog house to being the star player in the top leagues. It is correct in that Donovan should try to contribute to Everton as much as Dempsey has to Fulham, but it’s gonna be tough considering the length of the loan. My thinking is that his main goal is to stay sharp for the world cup. Donovan is the key player on a USA Nat’l Team that is consistently qualifying for the WC finals so it’s not like he’s a soccer failure when going against the top competition in the world. And Everton is mainly looking for a warm body to give a little help in their offense to try to avoid relegation. I don’t think Everton is stupid enough to be anticipating a Donovan miracle to turn the season around.

    Why are people like Kartik so critical of Donovan when they also seem to be counting on him so much to prove to the world that usa players are so great? Doesn’t make sense to me. Let’s just wish that Donovan, USA soccer, EPL and Everton all benefit from this.


    1. Glenn:

      Um prazer.

      And I think it is important to give Kartik credit. His article has stimulated great discussion, which is exactly what a good story should do (unless you live in North Korea). It will be interesting for all of us to come back in May – after the EPL season and before the World Cup – and see how accurate the opinions expressed here prove to be.

      Passe bem.

  36. It is amazing how ignorant the us fan who only watches the nats and mls areabout the world game. This thread of Landy Cakes lovers proves you people either have no understanding of what you are watching or are simply to biased to accurately asses the situation.

    For me at times Kartik is too American in his perspective and too defensive of Americans. This time he nailed it. The truth hurts suckers.

  37. Basically, if Donovan wants to have success in his short stay in the EPL he should follow Dempsey’s work rate? Or run off the ball? This is pretty much what I get from this article. I would say however, that comparing Dempsey (who probably only came into his own for his club team since fall of 08, after how many seasons? ) to Donovan’s first attempts and then a short loan to Bayern (where expectations to play in new system and have immediate impact) is not a fair comparison. I might even argue the opposite is true when playing for our country. Obviously Dempsey won the bronze ball at confederations but was that more to do with the fact that he got a scrappy goal or two and a good header? Donovan had my vote for one of the best players of that competition.

    It is probably hard to truly judge these guys because the teams, system of play and coaching tactics are so different. Does anyone think Clint Dempsey would have done well after a few preseason games, odd minutes here and there for a few months at Bayern? It is quite possible that if Bayern had actually been able to buy Donovan and eased him into the squad bit by bit he might have had an impact by now. How long did it take Dempsey to have his full impact?

    I really want Donovan to do well at Everton and if you read some of the Everton forums you will see that a large percentage of the English fans are accepting of him and don’t think he will be any kind of savior but hope for the best. If he can not fit in the system right away then I am sure that will damage his rep but after this past summer he does not have all that much to prove to me. For all those that think Kartik and company are Donovan haters then go back and check out his podcast after the Brazil game. There was a pretty good Donovan Luv-fest going on.

  38. This article is a bit ridiculous. Donovan and Dempsey can be compared in two ways: a) Club form; b) MNT form. Dempsey might play world class football when he is in England but he is sporadic at best with the MNT. He coughed up the ball so much last year and sure he made up for it with big goals but my point is Donovan is the engine that runs the USMNT. Dempsey does not raise the level of play for the whole team like Donovan does. True Donovan failed in Germany but would Dempsey have made it there???I am not so sure. Would Donovan have made it at Fulham after the trail that Brain McBride had blazed there???I think so. Dempsey has blossomed into a great talent at Fulham and the USA will need both players if they want any chance to make the knock out rounds. Donovan has done something in his time in the USA that the rest of the world said was impossible. He has improved his game domestically. You can even argue that since his loan stint with Bayern he has been a better all around player. Plus Klose said he has what it takes and I believe a player over a political executive anyday. Good luck Landon, I believe you got what it takes and your leadership will result in our best players staying home and developing a style that is all about American flair.

  39. I think Krishnaiyer’s writing skills are soft and a bit of a joke. Since he doesn’t really have the quality or ability to write professionally, he will have to stick to unpaid blogging, unfortunately. Sorry. Just in this post, for example, I found three sentences with glaring mechanical errors (see below). Of course, for a professional caliber sportswriter, error free grammar and solid mechanics are a given. A pro’s real job is to write with style, logical consistency, and wit. Krishnaiyer’s posts exhibit none of these qualities, or not enough of them to make them worth paying for, and they’re riddled with mechanical errors.

    At least Donovan has sufficient talent to succeed as a pro and have a career.

    “FC Bayern Sporting Director, Ule Hoeness is a good authority on what makes a quality player observed Donovan’s work ethic in training and off the ball movements were not up to a Bundesliga standard.”

    “At Leverkusen, Donovan often got lost far up the pitch and ended up being a detriment to the clubs ability to actually maintain possession and play attacking football.”

    “That may sound harsh but is the reality of the situation as I see it.”

  40. Another very poor effort Kartik. I think you actually have some decent comments to make on LD but as usual you would prefer to write an artical that “get’s comments”, instead of an insightful review.

    Dempsey has really come good for Fulham, and he should be praised for his excellent form. A much more interesting subject would be “why is he so good for Fulham and can’t really put it together for the USMNT”.

    LD has his faults. Specifically, he is soft, not mentally tough, and not very tactically aware. He also, without question, has some real talents. He has pace, pretty good first touch, can shoot with both feet, and can run all day. It’s hard to dispute his resume’ as the best ever American field player. I comepletely understand your praise for Reyna but I can’t say that he is necesarrily better.

    I don’t understand where you are going with the Munich comments? How relavent can a 10 week loan to a loaded team where the board didn’t want him be? He barely had a chance to play and when he did play it was hardly a “disaster”. How can you possibly critique his off ball runs by watching ontelevision? I watch a ton of soccer and the field of view is pretty limited. That comment is a load of bull and your just repeating what Hoeness said. The guy didn’t want him and so he cracked on him. Huge surprise? What sample of games are you talking about…..4.

    If you want to bash Donavan, how about pointing out that he was a non-factor in the MLS championship game and he topped that off by fluffing a penalty kick. I’m a fan of LD, but his performance in that game was worthy of criticism.

    It’s not that you have an irritating opinion, it’s that you seem to go out of your way to try to irritate that get’s old.

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