Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Landon Donovan, Go Back Abroad!

Landon Donovan is back from his brief loan spell at German league giants Bayern Munich. He goes from playing with Franck Ribery, Luca Toni, Miroslav Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and other world class players (Lucio's my boy, and don't forget Podolski) to playing with Stefani Miglioranzi, Chris Klein, and Dema Kovalenko (Becks isn't back until later in the summer) and other MLS mainstays.

Well. That sucks for him.

Not that I have even the slightest smidgen of pity for the guy. He decided long ago to be the face of the MLS, and even though most of this country doesn't give a crap about the MLS or any of its body parts, I give him credit for trying to build up the game here.

There's a major problem, though, with his noble bravado. He knows that playing overseas is the best way for American players to get better. And surely he knows that the only way Americans are really going to start paying attention to soccer is if the Americans get really really good at it.

So his work in trying to promote soccer in the States is self-contradictory: the best way for him to promote the game is not to be the face of the MLS but to go abroad, get better, and help the US in the international tourneys. I say without the slightest hesitation that Clint Dempsey has done more good for American soccer by winning a starting job at Fulham, holding it down, and playing critical roles in Fulham's wins over Chelsea, Manchester United, and Arsenal this season than Donovan will have done in years in the MLS.

According to the Guardian, Donovan said,

"It was very instructive watching the other guys on the team -- how (Franck) Ribery gets the ball, how Miroslav Klose moves into space to get the ball, how Luca Toni would look to receive, those things will help me a lot," he told reporters.

"Training at that level makes you better. Playing games at that level makes you better."

So what's left for him in the States? My suggestion is for him to get back abroad as soon as possible. Even though he did not have a remarkably successful time at Bayern, he did play. And just look at his quote! Even practicing with the best in the world makes you better. There is no doubt that other clubs in Europe that would take him. How could he even fathom going back to LA Galaxy practices!?

Just under 30 years old, Donovan is at the tail end of his physical peak. Whatever he does, he should act soon. He's running out of time.