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A Letter from America

By Sam Higgins :  11/02/2010 :  Comments (13) :
I don't know how many weeks Landon Donovan has left at Goodison Park, but sooner or later some form of communication probably a phone call (not a letter!) will be made from across the pond demanding the return of MLS's best player.

When Moyes secured Donovan on loan in January, I was nonplussed — good addition to the squad during the shortfall, was my opinion and that was the view shared by many on here. I'd seen snippets from YouTube of Donovan; he looked OK but this was the MLS — Hibbert would look like Cafu in USA's soccer league.

Six weeks later, having played for one of the best teams in the Premier League, and following a very solid debut at the Emirates, I have to say my opinion has changed from nonplussed to very fucking impressed. I don't know what it is about the EPL but some players seem to improve vastly when given the chance to play against quality opponents and Donovan is one of these players.

Maybe he just wasn't tested in the MLS and that's why he was never able to showcase his true talent... but he has stood up and some against Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea, and has given Everton an injection of pace down the wing. His willingness to attack the opposition has yielded its rewards in terms of results and, considering the standard of footy he is used to playing, he has done very well to fit in so quickly.

I think the guy is quality and we should really be looking at a long-term deal. It's not just what he's doing on the pitch, he seems a really good guy off it, very professional, intelligent and articulate in interviews, and he seems to like all the lads and they like him. I imagine Moyes is a big fan of Donovan's professional approach to his job.

Donovan appears to be enjoying himself, and the big question is, yeah California is home, but after the 6 weeks he has so far participated in the EPL would YOU want to go back to the MLS?!!! What would it take to prize him away though? Lots of money, that's for sure...

And of course the biggest irony is Donovan's loan to Everton has improved his team's chances against England in Rustenburg 10-fold. He won't be scared of Cole or Terry come June 10 — and that confidence will disseminate down through his team. I don't think England's opener will be the walk in the park it might've been if Landon had never joined Everton!

Reader Comments

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Peter McHugh
1   Posted 11/02/2010 at 13:28:54

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I didn’t know much about Donovan and when he first game, he looked a little direct and just hustle and bustle to me. Now he has definitely won me over, he’s been very good and we need pace and I would love to get him here permanently.
Dermot Reilly
2   Posted 11/02/2010 at 15:06:52

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Considering the stick he gave Beckham last year for staying at Milan, I don’t think there’s a chance that he won’t be back in the US for the beginning of the MLS season. Beyond that, though, who knows.

’Boston Evertonians’ (Facebook)
David Hallwood
3   Posted 11/02/2010 at 15:50:34

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Donovan’s been quiet on the subject, I think it’ll be bye bye Everton in March, but who knows? He now knows that he can compete with the best, and maybe playing in the Prem has turned his head, maybe he’ll be back for good next season.
Brett Jonathan
4   Posted 11/02/2010 at 16:59:32

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Living in LA, I’ve had the chance to watch him week-in, week-out like I do the boys in blue. My quick generalistaion is that he is a quality player who never needs to get out of first gear over here.

The problem now is that, after the whole Beckham MLS fiasco, I think it will be incredibly difficult (impossible even) that the MLS will let their flagship player go anywhere this season.

If Everton had the cash, we all know money talks... but in this instance his value would have to be close to double his worth just to take him away from his poster-boy role over here.

I am sure he would love to stay with us, but we have picked the wrong USA guy to make that happen easily any time soon I think.
Ryan Scails
5   Posted 11/02/2010 at 21:25:19

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I really don’t see the Beckham dispute being an issue. Seriously a spat between two players? It’s been resolved, and DB would give nothing but his support for such a move.

The problem is that the MLS runs itself as a shakey adolescent company, that’s scared of their marquee players wanting to be elsewhere (because they do). It would take money... but more importantly they’d probably need something in return. Imagine them shitting themselves at the idea of everybody left being pretty mundane and similar, as talent goes. Basically they’d need someone to fill the boots, in LA or otherwise.
Guy Hastings
6   Posted 11/02/2010 at 21:51:38

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Could be Donovan v Baines in SA.
Alan Clarke
7   Posted 11/02/2010 at 21:52:28

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It has the feel of Brian McBride all over again.
Jason Lam
8   Posted 12/02/2010 at 04:40:36

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If he can work on his tactical positional play and improve his possession etc all to European standards he can be a useful addition with his pace and direct running.

Players have a very short sell-by dates. He would have the effect similar to Ichiro and Matsui (Godzilla) in promoting the local sport’s recognition and standard — in this case, the MLS can actually produce a decent player, and mums and dads should take note that we’re (USA) are actually quite good at this and not simply play baseball or American football.

Donovan can’t play forever, the MLS will need to look long-term in promoting the MLS (if they’re looking long term strategy). The kids will look up to Landon and pick up soccer as European football is not all that impossible for Americans.
Jamie Crowley
9   Posted 12/02/2010 at 04:55:18

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Ryan: "that’s scared of their marquee players wanting to be elsewhere"

That’s why MLS is so Mickey Mouse. the talent coming through the ranks is real, genuine, and massive. The sport is growing by huge leaps here, and so is the talent. If they could see the forest through the trees they’d let him go - there’s a 18 year old kid somewhere in these 50 States that will be as good or better. Someone will fill his shoes. And odds are with the progression we’ve seen, that kid will be even better than Landon.

All the while MLS gets to boast of developing LD, through the US system, to the level where he can compete and excel in the EPL. It’s a feather in the cap. Then they should quickly tell everyone they are a fledgling league and someday they look to be strong enough to have their top players stay in the US, because MLS is worthy of their talent.

But it’ll never happen. He’s going no where - except back to LA.

And it will take another 50 years for MLS to be on par with the SPL... brilliant American soccer minds with their NFL mentality.

2 divisions, not a single table. 8 teams make the playoffs out like 15 or so, college development system instead of academies...

It’s a minor miracle the US is progressing: at the top soccer is run by complete idiots in the US. Makes the FA look fucking brilliant.

Adam Carey
10   Posted 12/02/2010 at 10:04:38

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I think the top brass need to seriously look into working out a way to keep Landon. He was been impressive in his short time on the pitch over here, but as well, he has raised our profile by leaps and bounds across the pond in the US.

I’m not just thinking of the commercial prize here, as he really has taken on a problem area for us, (right wing), and improved the balance of the team. Time for Mr Elstone to earn his pay-rise methinks...
Pete Case
11   Posted 12/02/2010 at 10:50:59

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There are two problems with this thread:

1. Sam seems to think that, by virtue of coming to the EPL, LD has vastly improved; and,

2. Numerous people seem to think that the MLS can boast of Donovan’s abilities... as if the MLS has finally produced a diamond in the rough.

The only problem with both of those contentions is that Donovan has always been good... he was great before he got to the MLS and he was great before he got to Everton. In fact, he’s always been better than just about everyone around him.

In 1999 before he ever got to MLS he was voted Best Player (Golden Ball) at the U-17 World Cup... A tournament that included some players you might have heard of:
- Adriano
- Pepe Reina
- Michael Essien
- Thomas Hitzelsperger....
oh yea, and some guy named Arteta.

In 2002 at the World Cup he was single handedly responsible for forcing the resignations of the starting fullbacks and the Managers for Portugal and Mexico... and came within a muffed Brad Friedle ricochet of doing the same to Germany in the QF.

The point is he’s been great his whole life... and I doubt very much that the EPL has done anything to merit the claim that it has transformed his game. He does have 120 caps... he has played teams that are actually better than Chelsea... and scored on them too.

He has just about every meaningful USA and MLS individual record, and he’s only 27.
Art Jones
12   Posted 12/02/2010 at 11:43:54

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Peter, what you say is so right, Landon obviously hasn’t just been transformed into this "Superplayer" since he signed for Everton but, with the EPL being generally regarded as the toughest league in the world, then his move to Everton has certainly raised his profile somewhat.

Many so called "World Class" players have failed miserably in the Premier League or at least not lived up to their reputation: Veron? Shevchenko? and some I suspect have not been brave enough to even try.

Landon is undoubtedly a talented player but he has been helped greatly by moving to the Blues. The fans have taken to him because he has all the talents that an Everton player needs: 100% effort, fast, tricky and says all the right things that the diehard Blues want to hear.

It helps having Tim Howard here as well, a familiar face in very friendly surroundings helped him settle almost straight away. If some knew of him before... everybody knows who he is now and his tiny blip at Bayern is all but forgotten.

In truth, the relationship has been mutually beneficial, whether it continues is not just a case of Kenwright finding the necessary cash. The vast majority of us hopes it happens; if LD decides he wants to spend say 2 or 3 years of his life as a vital part of a very good team in an atmosphere he’s comfortable with, could be the major deciding factor.

Ciarán McGlone
13   Posted 13/02/2010 at 11:21:06

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I’d rather have Dalmat.

Talk about getting carried away... Donovan’s done well — he hasn’t parted the Red Sea.

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