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Landon – This Saturday is Why You Went to Everton

anfield and goodison 232x300 Landon   This Saturday is Why You Went to Everton

On Saturday morning, Landon Donovan will board a bus at Goodison Park, the stadium at the top of the photo amid all the working class houses, and travel about a mile to Anfield, the stadium at the bottom of the photo amid all the working class houses.    Escorted by a phalanx of security, Donovan and his teammates will walk into Anfield and then, eventually through he tunnel, onto the field, and into an experience wholly new to Donovan.  No matter what happens for the rest of Landon Donovan’s career, no matter what happens in South Africa, no matter whether he returns to the Galaxy or stays in Europe, the following two hours will be among the most memorable he will ever have.

Of all the great European derbies, there are few that can compare to the Merseyside clash.  The Old Firm game in Scotland may be rooted in religious rivalry and for a half century the Barca-Real battle in Spain stood in for the civil war after the bullets stopped flying.  However, it is the proximity of the Merseyside battle that drives the vitriol.  For these two teams, separated by only a park, a cemetery, and 100 years of hate, this game can often define the value of their whole season. 

Part of what makes this Derby so powerful is the sound.  Both Anfield and Goodison are relatively small, confined stadiums.  The crowd at Anfield is right on top of the action, and the noise reverberates around the stadium like shaken pennies in glass jar.  For a normal Liverpool game against some random opponent, Anfield is one of the loudest stadia in the land.  For the Merseyside game, noise is taken to an entirely new level.  The noise at Anfield has feeling.  You can sense it in your chest.  When Donovan takes a cornerkick, he will be taking it while leaning against a wall of sound.  To the extent he will be able to make out anything specific, the dialog would make a pornographer blush.

Ultimately, it is these types of experiences that will make his loan to Everton so valuable to Donovan.  Playing with great players, against great players in an electrified atmosphere is something that you cannot get in 2010’s MLS.  Maybe one day, but not today.  To the extent that Landon under-performed in the World Cup four years ago, one of the reasons why is that he did not have enough experiences like the Merseyside Derby. 

The games Donovan has played against Mexico are passionate, but really do not compare to a Liverpool/Everton match up.  Ultimately, both Mexico and the US have always known that no matter the result, they were both going to qualify for the World Cup.  Beating Mexico is fun mostly because it is so galling to the Mexicans.  Losing to Mexico is always disappointing, but rarely devastating.  What Donovan will experience on Saturday is of a completely different nature.  The fans on both sides are so emotionally committed to the game that they hold nothing in reserve to cushion the blow should they lose. 

For us west-coasters, we are looking at a 4:30 am kick-off on Saturday.  My advice – set your alarm.  With ESPN2 broadcasting the game in HD, it is time to wall –off the TV room, turn the volume up, and let the action wipe the sleep from your eyes.  You rarely get to see a game like this with an American playing a position other than ‘keeper.  It should not be missed.

58 Responses to Landon – This Saturday is Why You Went to Everton

  1. Tyler says:

    The noise is something that has certainly been missing from Anfield this season, but to be honest can you really blame them for it.

  2. Henry says:

    I agree with the author that it is certainly a great experience for Landon to play at Anfield, but I think it has more to do with quality and speed of play than with getting exposure to a hostile crowd. There is no way the crowd at Anfield is louder than 100,000 screaming Mexican fans in Azteca. I doubt there are urine bags being tossed onto the pitch and I also doubt that Landon will be the center of the opposing fans ire the way he is hen they play in Mexico. No player on the US squad gets under their skin quite as much. So, yes, this will be a great experience and an extremely high quality game for Landon, but it probably won’t be the most aggressive mob he has ever faced as a player.

  3. Joe in Indianapolis says:

    I was already pumped for this game. Now I literally can’t wait! Great article.

  4. LUCAS says:

    great article, really well articulated!!!

  5. Rod says:

    As an Everton fan I can tell you that while the Merseyside Derby is intense, there isn’t the degree of animosity in it you see in rivalries like Rangers-Celtic or Boca-River. Many Everton and Liverpool fans grew up in “mixed” families, with some of their relatives cheering for the Blue and some for the Red. There’s a lot of passion in the rivalry, but not too much hatred.

  6. Pip says:

    Great to see an american with such passion for football ( soccer ) ! Here´s to a great match and the royal blues to win.

  7. sarah everton says:

    come on you blues, my boyfriend is a red and i’m trying to convert him

    xx

  8. James Wilson says:

    Henry, you dont get it! And Rod your twenty years behind fella. Watch the game. From a blue in Liverpool

  9. terry texo says:

    c’mon you blues, lets batter these ‘orrible cheating, lucky, spawn of satan c***s.

  10. Melissa says:

    As a Yank AND an Adopted Scouser (lived in Liverpool) I find this to be morally conflicting. I love love LOVE Landon and have been rooting for Everton since he joined. But I am a LFC girl through and through and I don’t feel right rooting against them because of the Yank connection on the other side of the pitch. So I think I’m going to operate under my standard rule. I want Liverpool to win, but if Landon scored, I wouldn’t hate it.

  11. Charles says:

    I like the different prospective. When the 5th place team plays the 9th place team and it is that passionate….well might give soccer in the US some hope, huh ? Portland is definitely joining the league next year. Vancouver probalby will. Rivals of the Sounders. DC-NY-NE-Philly, something will happen there.

    EPL is unwatchable in my opinion, with the next big game being Chelsea-ManU in April, but I might get up at 5:30 and watch because of your article.

  12. Charles says:

    Oh yeah, saying this is more memorable than his World Cups is a joke, right ?
    Exageration ?

    IF you say no, then you are just plain wrong.

  13. Great article! And Charles, couldn’t agree more!

  14. Richard Farley says:

    Good read, Eric, and way to set the table for this weekend, though I agree with some of the Liverpudlians who have offered some slight clarifications on the nature of the rivalry. I find the Merseyside Derby to be a very (relatively) respectful affair.

    There is a reason why some call it the Friendly Derby. There are a lot of families that have red and blue under the same roof and embrace it.

    It doesn’t carry the same antipathy as the North West Derby: Liverpool-Manchester United.

  15. chris says:

    Give me a break. Donovan has played in quite a few matches with more intensity than the Liverpool-Everton game. The 100,000+ fans at Azteca stadium go beserk for every home game, but take it up to an even higher level against the US, and much of that intensity is aimed directly at Donovan when he plays there.

    For that matter, many of the World Cup qualifiers that the US team plays in Central America outdo anything the fans in Liverpool will dish out. Fans are kept back from the field by chainlink fences topped with razor wire, and the guys guarding the field are armed with assault rifles. The night before the game, crowds gather outside the US’s hotel to try to keep the players up all night by laying on their car horns and beating on trash cans.

    Don’t believe me? Ask Tim Howard– a player who has seen both– he has said in several interviews that nothing he’s seen in England matches the intensity of the fans in some of these Latin American venues.

  16. Adam R. says:

    Additional note:

    Landon’s second foray into Europe, with Bayer Leverkusen, seemed to be going ok until Landon got a start in a Champions League match, where he was rendered invisible. He quickly faded and ended up with the Galaxy soon after.

    The opponent that day: Liverpool.

    • Charles says:

      More reason to watch the game, huh ?

      I gotta think this is such a low pressure game, not exactly going to be any big deal for anyone if Everton loses. It is the EPL, not really expected that Everton will ever be better than Liverpool.

      On the other hand, it is crazy the similarities that could exist, team could get outplayed ( although Liverpool is struggling ), now what does Landon do in that context?

      • Tom says:

        Charles- Low pressure 5th verse 9th? You like play-offs, the final spot is 4th, so it is certainly a big game for Liverpool. Plus, unlike the MLS play-offs, Champions League qualification impacts a team financially for multiple seasons. If Liverpool miss out, they will loose out on keeping and recruiting players; and thus are more likely to miss out again next year. Everton would love their city rilvals to decline as a club because this would be an opening for them.

        I am a Rapids fan, I like going to MLS games and watching them on TV. But I am really looking forward to this game tomorrow morning.

        • Charles says:

          Liverpool will not miss out, as pathetic as the goalie played today.
          They have to be in fourth now. I meant it more from the perspective of Landon however. Everton stinks, or those that were worried that Landon wouldn’t be able to make it in the EPL, you have to be doubting your talent scouting abilities right now.

          That game showed one thing, he is wasting his time there.

  17. kevin_amold says:

    If he has a good game, it will really help his rep, but he has shown enough that if he has a mediocre game, it won’t kill his star at Everton. At least in my opinion.

  18. Patrick says:

    You can not compare World Cup qualifiers, as several comments before mine have stated about the Mexico games there is no comparing. I mean do Liverpool fans toss bags and cups filled with Crap and Urine at Everton Players when the take a corner kick.

  19. Steve says:

    Donovan

  20. TomM says:

    Thanks for the great article, explaining the geography, the history, and the passion behind this rivalry- can’t wait to watch Sat morning.

    But suggesting this is a bigger deal for LD than playing at Azteca in a qualifier is absurd.

    He’ll be ready for this…

  21. ko says:

    Article here on Landon Donovan and Everton move options.

    http://footballgolfrugby.blogspot.com/

  22. derek thomas says:

    The rivalry USED to be friendly-ish. But what was once ONE divided in 1892 and is now TWO. But the change in fortunes of the 2 clubs which used to be evenly matched and the (relative) success of the, to give them thier politer tag, darkside, has lead to an arragance, that the once equals have a no God given right to win against the seeming up starts. Think Benitez = darth vader and Moyes = Obiwan… well who do you support and want to win??

  23. Dave A says:

    As an Evertonian for 50+ years, born and raised in Liverpool, and having experienced Merseyside derby games at Goodison and Anfield, I take great exception at the word ‘hate’ as used in this article. My dad and my brother were both ‘reds’; I had school and work mates who were and are ‘reds’, but I never hated any of them. Admittedly, the rivalry between the ‘blues’ and the ‘reds’ has become more intense in the last 20+ years but generally it is still a rivalry that is friendly. Before fan separation at games was introduced you could find youself standing – yes, standing – next to an opposing fan and it could be good fun!
    However, in recent years, the Merseyside derby has lost some of it’s edge, for the national media, due to Liverpool being one of the so called, ‘Big Four’ and Everton only recently starting to regain lost ground. Locally, however, this game still means a lot – especially for bragging rights back at work on the Monday morning!
    Make no mistake about it, the ‘reds’ are going through a bad time and the ‘blues’ are on the up at this time, due to some long term injured players returning to the squad. Which all makes for an intersting scenario!

  24. John says:

    The atmosphere in the Merseyside derby is electric and the intensity you could cut with a knife.
    Whether you’re blue or the other colour (you know the s**t one) every ball, every tackle and pass will be cheered.
    Abuse will be given out to the opposition players, managers and fans – not a lot of it good natured but said with feeling and meant with ferocity.
    Some of it will be humorous but most meant to hit where it hurts.
    As for hatred, I don’t believe there is hatred (except for a small minority that do not come from the city and an even smaller few that do)
    How can most of us from here that live and work together hate each other?
    (Immense dislike I can live with).
    Families are split (I blame the parents) and whatever your persuasion you have to go to work on Monday alongside the opposition.
    Yes arguments become very heated and animated but generally the banter is funny although occasionally it does come to blows.
    I was at Wembley for a Merseyside Derby Cup Final and saw twin brothers, one blue one red knocking seven bells out of each other with fans of both sides trying to break it up – so it deffo can happen.
    Yes Landon will have experienced high intensity games before, but this derby is unique in its passion, its tempo (its played at 100 miles an hour) but most of all the fear of losing.
    I actually hate the derby for the feelings it gives me, it makes me feel sick with nerves.
    I don’t even like it at Goodison and certainly wouldn’t set foot in Anfield – the only place in Liverpool you have to wipe your feet on the way out :)
    Anyway Landon, have a great game, enjoy it and make the blue half of Merseyside proud by coming away with a win (and the bragging rights until next time at least).
    COYB (come on you blues)

  25. John says:

    Here are a couple of Everton web sites you may find interesting.

    http://www.bluekipper.com/home.html

    http://www.toffeeweb.co.uk

  26. John says:

    Sorry, please ignore above link, this is the right one for Toffeweb

    http://www.toffeeweb.com/default.php

  27. TX Bill says:

    I’m pretty sure that Claudio Reyna said he’d never experienced anything like playing the Old Firm derbies and he’d played in a fair few World Cup qualifiers in his day.

  28. JFK San Diego says:

    Well done with the article. I think you have hit the nail on the head and have really given the virgin Evertonians an insight as to what it means to play for EFC and what the derby means to us and the Darkside. I hope Landon reads this piece. As a lifelong blue, born in the Bronx to a Cunard Yank (google it!), and having been raised on Merseyside, I trully hope that Landon’s stay will last longer than the loan period. He can only build on what Joe-Max began and what Shake and Bake continued in his brief but valuable stay. I only disagree with the 100 years of hate reference. Although my Dad and I are Blues, my brother and my best mate are Reds. You can’t truly believe there is ant hate there? As others have said above- during the match we cannot even look at each other but as soon as the whistle blows and the emotions settle, there is nothing that a few pints bought by the victor can’t overcome. Then its right back to hating Chelski and Man. U. COYB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Richard Farley says:

      Who’s this Joe Max person? Just kidding (a reference to a previous thread on this blog).

      I love seeing “San Diego” on the blog ;)

  29. Jason says:

    Wow its incredible how the parks there are situated on the map. Its like you have normal ubran townhouse neighborhoods and deadsmack in the middle of it you have two soccer stadiums tighthly packed in there. I did not even seen a parking lot. How the heck to the fans get there. How long does it take to walk between the two stadiums? If I ever go to England I would love to visit Liverpool just to do an Anfield-Goodison walk. Pretty neat I think.

  30. Kevin says:

    Nice write up. Looking forward to the game.

  31. Colin says:

    It’s a big game and there is lots of passion but it depends whether you are a stakeholder or not. I am a Blue and will feel pain if we lose. Not a sharp pain but akin to anxiety/heartburn. If England play and lose I feel disappointment not pain. I hope Landon is a painkiller. We’ll see if Landon has become a TRUE BLUE on Saturday. Come on you Blue Boys!!!

  32. free bet says:

    ure putting too much pressure on him lol

  33. Charles says:

    Seeing as this topic has been up there for a while. And I have already left my opinion….here is another subject, discuss:

    “Seattle is continuing to surprise us all. They haven’t announced it yet, but they’ve sold out their available season tickets (for 2010). They’re now at 32,000 and expect to go well north of 40,000 for their attendance.”

    Please let the rest of the league catch up…we can quit discussing Landon playing on a loser team in a league that plays meaningless games at 5:30 in the AM on illegal internet streams.

  34. Tom says:

    Illegal internet streams? It’s on ESPN2.

    • Charles says:

      one game, plus call me crazy, I seem to be in the minority, but I would much rather be able to see him in person.

      • John says:

        Ok Tom you’re crazy – you asked for it LOL
        But where do you get off calling Everton “a loser team playing meaningless games ”
        Ask the 44,000 that will be at the derby and tell them this games meaningless, you are just showing your ignorance about the tradition and passion of the beautiful game in England.
        And as for Everton being a loser club have a look at the history and trophies we have won and then call us losers – the only loser here mate is you with your sad attitude.
        Ask Landon Donovan what he has got out of his short spell with us, I’m sure he’ll put you right.

      • Lars says:

        Then travel to go see him, and stop whining about it. He’s going to play in a superior league, on a team that is better than ANY MLS alternative.

        Bye bye Donovan, go play where you should and free up a spot for a young american who, just may someday, be a world class player like you.

  35. Joey Clams says:

    I’ve really enjoyed reading the posts from the Everton fans. Good stuff. I used to do business with a Liverpool company and I did my share of kibitzing during conference calls. The company was divided in its loyalties but its workers always discussed the Red-Blue rivalry with great humor. In fact a buddy of mine from Leeds, an old time fanatic, insists that the city where he must enjoyed himself as an away Leeds supporter was Liverpool. He said that they’re intense during the game but once things are decided they’re hospitable. You guys in Liverpool have something special going. Continue to enjoy it and make it what it is.

  36. Alan T says:

    Charles get a grip, ‘Landon playing on a loser team’. We are the mighty Blues, Nil Satis Nisi Optimum. Good Luck Landon & also watch out for Tim Cahill the blue kangaroo, coming to corner flag near you! COYB

    • Lars says:

      Don’t worry. Charles thinks that his local club is better than Manchester United, and thinks that Major League Soccer is a higher level of play than English Premier League…he’s a typically delusional Seattle Sounders /fan/. You’re just not worthy of the word supporter, Charles, because a supporter is something of a higher level, of higher knowledge and not always pimping inferior products, while knocking down vastly superior alternatives.

  37. smith says:

    “Please let the rest of the league catch up…we can quit discussing Landon playing on a loser team in a league that plays meaningless games at 5:30 in the AM on illegal internet streams”

    That’s why football will never take off in the US. They just don’t get it.

    As for compairing the Derby game to a World Cup Qualifier – the article never makes that link. All the author is talking about is the difference between the EPL and the MLS. Donavan will never have played a LEAGUE game like this before, and proberly never will.

  38. BlueBoy says:

    I am sat in Liverpool enjoying this thread greatly.
    The geography of the grounds does make the fixture unique. Tomorrow, the Evertonians will congregate at their pubs and the Liverpool fans vice versa. The two rituals will develop within a mile of eachother. It is also unique because it splits so many families. Hatred is a strong word and best reserved for Glasgow or Milan derbies. Here the greatest hatred is definitely reserved for losing.
    Everton are the working class club, rooted in the alleyways and backstreets of the city. Liverpool are a global success.
    Go to London and you will find appreciation of Liverpool.
    Come to Liverpool and you will see Everton shirts on every street corner.

    We welcome our American friends and will urge Landon on with every last breath in our lungs.
    Nil Satis Nisi Optimum.

  39. smith says:

    “I did not even seen a parking lot. How the heck to the fans get there. How long does it take to walk between the two stadiums?”

    The rectrangle of grey opposite Anfield (stadium at the bottom) is commonly used by both clubs for parking. Although it is closer to Anfield, it is only a pleasent 10 minute walk through Stanley Park to get to Goodison Park. As for getting their, their are good rail links, and the CIty of Liverpool provide dedicated buses to and from the town centre on matchday.

  40. Charles says:

    1 Landon was the best player on the field, we can now officially quit being insecure American soccer fans, oh I hope he makes it there.
    2 All those people that tought Everton was not a loser team, please apologize, without Landon they would have had zero scoring opportunites against a defense that didn’t look good and a goalie that looked downright awful. Does he know how to punch the ball ?
    3 That stadium was a joke. Comparing it to an Oakland Raiders game ? What are you thinking ? IF you still think that, you are smoking something. What a joke. My nine year old soccer team parents are more aggressive than that. Most were suits sitting down the whole game. A guy on Everton deserved a red and noone even booed him.

    • Lars says:

      Once again, you show just how ignorant you are of the game of football. You wonder why people think Sounders fans are all cockbites? It’s because of arrogance and ignorance displayed in posts like the above.

  41. raoul castro says:

    Oh for pete’s sake, EVERY derby is teh greatest!!

    I’ve seen games in over 15 countries and they all have great derbies.

    Have you ever seen one of those crazy greeks ones where the flares are so many that all you see is a flame of red?
    Ever go to turkey and those chanting maniacs? scary stuff.
    How effed up do you have to be and not be freaked out at seeing those lunatics cut the throat of a live goat right on the pitch…its good luck you know.

    I remember the US basketballs players being impressed at the 2004 Athens games and those crowds were waaay tamer that regular season derbies. Club games are always more intense, no matter the sport.

    I have south american friends who have seen games all over their continent that swear that I dont know nhat Im talking about, some of the games they saw there are a new level of insane that cant be matched anywhere.

    To them I said the same thing: Yes, its an electric atmosphere but not one of a kind.

    Here is a list of famous derbies:
    http://eurorivals.net/derbies.html
    i’ve seen 5 out of the 8 that have five stars (#2 to 6) on this list so I think I have a good idea of what is a great derby.

  42. Gary Rimmer says:

    What our American cousin must realise is that we just don’t support our team because they are doing well we Love & support our team because of the History, Heritage and tradition. Luckily enough at Goodison we have all three in abundance. Many clubs start small and become big. Here at Everton we were born BIg and stayed Big. The first ever league championship won at Analfield was by EFC. COYB

  43. Richard Harris says:

    Hi all,

    I’m a lifelong Everton fan from the UK and i’ve been reading some of the posts here wandering why all the arguments!!!
    Here in ‘lil o’l England I have watched over the years quite a few yanks coming to play in our league & to be honest I have been surprised how many have fitted in really well – Obviously a few keepers come to mind (must be that you play your football with your hands from a young age!) But Harkes, Dempsey,Supa Joe Max-Moore and now Landon Donovan have shown how well your players have progressed. I was at the Arsenal game and was really pleased how Landon played
    He will learn so much playing at our club & maybe our players will learn things from Landon. Already there is talk in the stands about how David Moyes should buy him now – I hope that there is substance to the rumours!
    I don’t think you’ll have many beatings at the World Cup if all your team have the same drive, determination and effort that Donovan posseses. I wish you well and hope to meet you in the final – Rooney scoring 3 to Donovan’s 2 would be a great ending!!!!!!
    See y’all later’
    Richard Harris
    Evertonia
    England
    UK

    richard.harris@hylton.co.uk

  44. Richard Harris says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwgCvO8-6fM

    Goodison Park Redevelopment proposal

  45. SSReporters says:

    Charles did someone lace your Starbucks coffee with serious PCP?

    • Charles says:

      You obviously live in England, as you would know that no sports fan in the city of Seattle would go to Starbucks.

      You didn’t think that Landon was Everton’s best player ?

      I can see you loving the 9th best team in the EPL, fine we disagree, I have seen them 4 times now and without Landon, they don’t look good.

      You really thought that stadium was rocking ? Even if you say so I wouldn’t believe you. The Superbowl ( played on a neutral site ) was a rougher crowd than that.

  46. His collections now include espadrilles, sandals, boots, pumps and evening shoes in heels ranging from flat to skyscraper high.
    A handbag line (priced $700 and up) was launched this year.

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