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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?

Is it?

Ah whatever.  I just want to see him score.

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  1. Daniel

    January 19, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    I think dragging Haiti into this is a bit sanctimonious, and football’s on the verge of a major breakthrough in the USA (gut feeling) and any site is going to be courting the fans if it has any interest in increasing revenues and it’s global reach.

    I’m a brit and a spurs fan, but I’ve been following MLS for years and, to use a yankism, am really psyched about Donovan’s loan spell; to the point where I wish I’d watched the Everton-City game at the weekend.

    I reserve the right to volte face this opinion should they stiff us at the cup this year.

  2. jrad

    January 18, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    right on!!! LD needs to get back to what made our 2002 WC run so successful–take on defenders, beat them 1 on 1 & go to goal

  3. scott smith

    January 18, 2010 at 10:48 am

    As much as I hate to say but Donovan is playing well. He seems to have a good relationship with Saha. Extending his stay will only make him stronger going into the world cup. However, he was critical of Beckham last year and now he is wanting to do the same.

  4. Aaron

    January 18, 2010 at 7:10 am

    First & foremost: Excellent “Fletch” movie reference by using 6’8” with afro! I particularly enjoyed that subtle touch.

    It may not be to everyone’s liking, however, I appreciated this piece on Donovan. I was curios to read the perspective of a non-Everton, U.S. fan; much like myself. As such, I only occasionally tuned-in to watch Tim Howard’s performance; since he is the U.S. keeper. Though with Landon’s arrival, my Toffees viewing motivation is now doubled for precisely the same reason.

  5. robert

    January 18, 2010 at 12:48 am

    You, sir, write well. Perhaps you could submit something about Cesc, Green, Lampard, Anelka or maybe Rolladega. I’d read it.

  6. Simon Burke

    January 17, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    I agree with Tyson – this is getting really silly. Dont you have an MLS blog Gaffer? I am sorry but do i see a post (or TWO) dedicated to Brad Friedel, or Marcus Hahneman every weekend?
    Last I checked I don’t see that EPLTalk’s about section focusses solely on Landon Donovan. I don’t mind the odd article particularly as it garnered a lot of heavy Everton response this week (all in favour it seems). Great.
    But 3 articles in 2 weeks?
    I see no articles about Gerrard’s reported leaving? Fabregas fantastic return, Dempsey’s injury (if you want to present yourselves as caring about the USA in World Cup 2010).

    I say this because if this blog turns into a blog for a player who has played 2 games reasonably well but not been man of the match in either; and doesn’t focus on the EPL itself which is far more important, then I dont need to be here. I like Donovan but I prefer reading about the Haiti disaster far more than the Donovan love-ins which have suddenly popped up. Did anyone else spot it took 2 days to write about Haiti because of the Donovan love in last weekend? Whats this blog about? There is a ridiculous Donovan bias but this isnt reflected in the “about section”. If you want to put EPL Talk in the title – make it about the EPL instead of Donovan. One article was fine but THREE? AS Tyson said what’s the nonsense about his nationality???? If this is secretly an MLS blog in disguise just say so or if its secretly an “I love Landon” blog in disguise just say so. 3 articles in less than 10 days. Why? Again, why? He is not the biggest story in EPL. This blog may make it seem so to those who dont really follow. The real story is the title chase, Chelsea’s 7 goals past Sunderland, the top 3, Harry’s tax issues….. whatever. Donovan is but a tiny tiny part of the EPL currently.
    Where is the love of Everton FC?

    Americans I have no mean to cause strife, i live here and am an MLS season ticket holder – but you have OTHER players in the MLS , and one American got hurt today and there is no EPLTalk article about that. This is far more important to your Summer.

    Gaffer if you want to have your folk write about Landon twice a week, can you at least mention how great Fellaini and Pienaar have been the last 2 weeks or are you just going for a blog hit counter?


    PS) Landon has been good – so has Cesc, so has Green, so has Lampard, so has Anelka, so has Rolladega…. etc – yet no articles.
    Sort this geographical bias out or publicise it. Personally I didnt care too much when Beckham came to MLS – there was a league before him and there will be a league after him. Some games Beckham doesnt even play and there are stories in those games too.

    • sucka99

      January 18, 2010 at 6:38 am

      • Evertonian

        January 18, 2010 at 6:55 am

        Poor Clint. Best wishes on a speedy recovery…

    • The Gaffer

      January 18, 2010 at 7:55 am

      Simon, Donovan is the biggest story of the Premier League this season for many American readers and bloggers.

      As man99utd points out above, we have an article about Dempsey on our sister site MLS Talk. We have an article about Gerrard possibly leaving Liverpool on this site this morning. We have all bases covered.

      As for Chelsea beating Sunderland 7-2 and the title race, that was covered on my post from Saturday.

      As for the Haiti disaster, it took us two days to write about it because we wanted to combine it with an interview with one of the most highly visible Haitian celebrities in this country, and trying to track him down didn’t take overnight.

      The Gaffer

    • david

      January 18, 2010 at 9:33 am

      Interesting points but I can’t sit here and agree that epltalk is being too biased after the last two weeks. He’s on the front of the Everton program this week, mentioned every other run for Everton both weekends, talked about and chanted loudly by the fans and singled out in the premier league review show.

      What’s great about this loan to us American supporters is that we’re not just excited about him being here, so is everyone else.

      With that all said, let’s hope he keeps his head down, learns a thing or two and scores some goals!

  7. Tyson

    January 17, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    I hope Landon does well too but I don’t understand the obsession with his nationality.

    If the US started producing some of the worlds best footballers it would be a good thing for the sport but when those footballers enter that big world stage and are divided between a handful of the worlds biggest clubs they all enter the same melting pot.

    Any modern day big team has a variety of nationalities and the worlds best player can often times come from a number of nations either known or not known for producing the best talent in football throughout history.

    Fact of the matter is footballers aren’t really defined by their nationality whether your Spanish, African or American as soon as you put on that shirt your new identity is that team you play for.

    Landon is an Everton player and if he is successful for Everton it will reflect on him and his club and thats all that matters.

    • robert

      January 18, 2010 at 12:45 am

      Great points. Only thing I’d disagree with is the implication that rooting for your countrymen is obsession. That’s a little melodramatic.

      • Garrett

        January 18, 2010 at 12:45 pm

        Yes but, assuming you’re not American, then you perhaps don’t understand what it means to us. We want to prove that we can produce good players that can compete well in the top leagues. That will in turn make our national team better and make more European clubs take notice to the American market for players (that is until the MLS has improved more – I know I’m gonna take some flak for saying that.)

  8. chris

    January 17, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    I agree completely with this article

  9. Brian

    January 17, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    “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? ”

    He’s not a winger. He’s never beaten people off of skill move dribbling, and he isn’t going to start now. He’s not a winger, either – so all of you hoping to see him dribbling like Ronaldo on the wing, think again – it’s never going to happen.

  10. John the arsenal fan

    January 17, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    I think landon’s playing well. I saw him at arsenal and he didn’t look out of place at all. I really can’t understand how his stint in Germany failed so dismally.

    Btw, player salary caps won’t work. Were they to be implemented, there’d be an exodus of stars to Italy and Spain. It would be suicidal for the prem. It’s the champs league revenue that maintains the current status quo.

    • robert

      January 18, 2010 at 12:42 am

      True dat. Caps are going to be necessary in all the biggest leagues, not just for better distribution of talent, but for solvency. We’re on the verge of a lot of Leeds repeats methinks.

  11. Joel

    January 17, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    That Fellani spin was sweet, but I think you forget that he usually just runs over the opposition.

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