Ruminations on Landon Donovan: a Yankee Perspective
Donovan. Another solid performance. While all the nay-sayers are stewing, waiting for him to stumble, donning the ill-got rep they bestowed on him after a couple short stints in Germany, I want to see him score goals. I don’t care if Everton go down in a smoking mass of decaying blue matter (occasionally… of course I want the big four disrupted). I just want to see Landon score. If they lose by five, can I at least get a Donovan goal?
I’m a west coast Yank. This guy represents the best of what our country is as a footballing nation at present (alongside Dempsey and our slew of goalies). No, I’m not in the market for blue shirts now, and the only reason I’ve ever rooted for Everton is so they’ll put an end to the big four monopoly that discredits the EPL’s financial system (No salary caps means a big four that is seldom interrupted. But I digress. That’s for another post that’s surely been beaten past death already). But Landon’s short stints in Germany? They didn’t start like this “let’s-plop-you-on-the-pitch-and-see-how-you-do” run at Goodison Park has. Of course the big difference has been that, to the German teams, he was just another pick up, relatively. In England, from the get-go, Donovan has been necessary. Most of us know how that feels. What it does to our psyche and confidence. It allows us to settle quickly into who we are. And in the world’s strongest football league, on a team scratching their way back to reclaim some of the form that has people dreaming of a big five or six, he is necessary. The Toffees need Landon right now and Landon needs the Toffees. And he has risen to the occasion. So far.
Ok. Now to rip on him a little. Just a little. If there’s one thing he does well, it’s running at people top speed. With a good first touch he’s gone, and it’s green lushness and a goalie waiting to get beat with a cool finish in most cases. But what we probably noticed, if we were sitting on the edge of our seats hoping he never gave license to the haters- or if we were watching with a critical eye (or just hating on him from the gate)- is that he failed in every 1v1 opportunity without his requisite head start. Where were the step overs? The shimmies and shakes? How can a 6’4” defensive midfielder (6’8” with afro) do a pirouette past the fastest Welshman in the game, but a nimble-footed, rocket-fueled winger can’t create space for himself unless he’s got ten feet to work with and is already at top speed? Landon did great making the simple pass, the easy play, staying connected and putting the ball on Fellainium’s cranium from the corner all day long. And to be fair, there weren’t that many of said 1v1’s, but when he was faced with one, he served it up to Man City’s defenders on a silver boot. This touch was too heavy here, or he was obviously “in two minds” there. Hmm.
We all have our gifts; our talents. And we all have our areas we could work on. We can choose to work on them or not. But if we’re being paid to be the best we can be, should we not expect improvement in areas with deficiencies? Should we not expect Donovan to have some doozies in his “juke” repertoire by this point in his career? Can we expect some in the future when their lack is made so abundantly clear in the EPL? I hope so. I mean, I know that player differences are what make individuals and teams unique, but is it too much for us to ask Landon to stay late at work until he’s got some moves to get around someone without a head start?
Ah whatever. I just want to see him score.