After a very successful stint on loan with Everton in 2010, Landon Donovan decided to return again this year during the MLS offseason on a two month loan deal. He has returned to a very different side, one that is struggling to win games and is in the bottom half of the table, as opposed the team on very good form in 2010.
Although not very impressive in Everton's 1-1 draw with Blackburn on Saturday, he has generally done very well in his first few games back in the squad. And I hope he extends that by signing permanently.
As we look at the big European leagues, we are seeing a large increase in Americans going over and Americans performing well. Tim Ream is close to moving to Bolton and Robbie Rogers recently finalized a move to Leeds United, among others.
Clint Dempsey grabbed his first career hat-trick in the FA Cup a couple of weeks ago and became the first American to score a hat trick in the EPL this weekend in Fulham's 5-2 dismantling of Newcastle. Jozy Altidore is starting to score, Maurice Edu has been a consistent attacking midfielder and Michael Bradley has been impressive for Chievo on both sides of the ball. I could keep going on.
Landon Donovan is the type of player who plays up to the occasion. He plays his best in pressure situations. To be perfectly honest, his talent is wasted in MLS. I think the league is growing quickly, but it can't even compare to the top European leagues at the moment. If the USMNT wants to be successful, they need their best player in the best league in the world. Honestly, if I were Donovan, I would want to prove that I could play well every week in the best league in the world. I'm surprised such a motivated player wouldn't have that desire.
Jurgen Klinsmann has made it fairly obvious that he wants US players (especially young ones) playing in Europe, because he feels playing against the best competition will make these players better. How could you disagree with that?
American football (soccer) is slowly starting to get respect around the world, and having our best players playing well in the top leagues will only help that. The same goes for us playing well in international tournaments. If our players get experience against the top players in club competitions, playing against them in World Cups will not seem quite as hard. It's really a no brainer. Let's hope, somehow, Landon Donovan permanently signs with Everton.