Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Landon Donovan

There has been lots of talk about Landon Donovan as of late, for the past few weeks a close friend and I have been having an ongoing debate about Donovan, whether he is fully committed to the game anymore, if his break is stupid, etc.

Unlike a lot of the people I have talked to, I am pro-Landon on this situation. For as much as some want to say he should be out there with the USMNT helping them qualify for the 2014 World Cup, I must think he just isn't match ready. Is that a valid excuse for a player that is heralded as THE GUY for the national team? Maybe not, maybe he should have been ready to go and retired instead of taking a break, but what I feel is most important is that he is making the effort to be back. 

Arguably the greatest American to ever represent the United States, Donovan has carried the weight of being the USMNT savior for years now. Being one of the most reliable players for the United States, Donovan has racked up 49 goals for his country and has made 144 appearances. Is he the player he used to be? Of course not. Due to injury and age Donovan has lost a little bit, but what he has lost in physical ability he makes up for with his mental understanding of the game. 

The debate of if he should be out with the US now training and competing is a valid one. Do I wish he was available for the next game in the hex? Yes, because Donovan gives the US something they are short on right now, a scoring threat. With Donovan on the field you free up the man poised to take the #1 role from Donovan, Clint Dempsey. As it was evident against Honduras, Dempsey can't do it alone. As great of a player as he is, he needs another threat on the field. With Brek Shea being far from ready to return to national team action, and other attacking players on the USMNT roster being non factors for most of the game when playing, whenever Donovan makes his return will be a changing point for the USMNT. 

Although only 30, he is nearing the end of his top of the tree playing career. I had a discussion last night in which my friend pointed out Lampard is playing at top level at 35 and Ibrahimovic at 31. And that's valid, they are performing at top level. Ibrahimovic is vital to club and country, as he is arguably the best pure striker in the world. But when it comes to Lampard, for as great as he is, he is not a NEEDED piece for club or country. The emergence of Jack Wilshere and the fact Steven Gerrard is still performing at top level for England means Lampard isn't needed. At Chelsea Mata, Hazard, and Oscar all are capable of playing in his position and it has been proven that although he produces for Chelsea, he isn't needed. Donovan, however, is needed for the United States to succeed in international play right now. As is evident watching the current squad, they lack attacking threats, as I stated before. Donovan would provide if not just a scoring threat, a leadership type of presence on the field. With him on the field you calm down, knowing in clutch moments if you need a goal, you can count on number 10. Donovan proved in the 2010 World Cup he was a clutch player, scoring the goal to tie Slovenia at the end of the game and the only goal in the United States 1-0 defeat of Algeria that put them through the group stage. 

Did Donovan pick a terrible time to take a break? Yes. But should we be thankful he is coming back to help guide the United States to the World Cup? Yes. 

Leave a thought below. Is Landon Donovan the greatest United States player ever? Does the current USMNT need him?

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