Time to Move On: Why Dempsey and Donovan Need a Change of Scenery for USMNT
Several months ago I wrote a story about how Landon Donovan should permanently sign with Everton, which you can read here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1033832-usmnt-why-landon-donovan-should-sign-permanently-with-everton. At the time, Donovan was in the middle of a fantastic loan spell with Everton. The fans loved him, and he fit into the club's system and way of life beautifully; while David Moyes mentioned wanting to sign him permanently many times. He returned to the Galaxy, however, and has not looked sharp in the first trimester of the MLS season.
Earlier this week, Donovan said that he would like to return to Everton; and I say, why not? Watching him score a hat trick in Saturday's 5-1 stomping over Scotland, I thought to myself, where have I seen this player before, roaming around and creating havoc for opposing defenses? The most recent time that came to mind was during his loan spell with Everton. He loved the club, and he seemed so rejuvenated there; playing with a seemingly free mind. With LA these past few months, he has looked like he doesn't really enjoy playing; in accordance with some comments he made this past week.
After all, how much more can Donovan do for MLS? He's a been a star in the league for the past 10 years, and played a big part in creating an environment that both helped develop young domestic talent and lure international talent—namely the likes of David Beckham and Thierry Henry. But now he's done maybe as much he can for the league; and going to play in the best league in the world will undoubtedly make him a much better player and, in turn, will help the USMNT. Also, the more Americans who make names for themselves in the big European leagues (ex. Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, etc.), the more the big clubs will look to sign American players. Donovan really only looks like he's having fun with Everton and the USMNT, anyway. If Donovan wants to make this move, however, he better do it soon, because the clock is ticking.
Now on to the animal that is Clint Dempsey. The striker netted 23 goals for Fulham this past season, with 17 of them coming in the EPL. I know that many people say that this is the perfect situation for him—with a team that is centered around him—but I disagree. For him to really gain valuable experience, scoring goals against the best defenders in the world in short competitions where this is no room for error, he needs to be playing in the Champions League. While he has improved greatly during his tenure in West London, he needs to be playing against the players he would face in the quarterfinals, seminfinals or even finals of the FIFA World Cup. Beyond that, he has publicly stated he would like to play in the Champions League before his career is over.
While these players are both doing well in their current situations, I feel they could be doing much better by advancing their respective careers in terms of domestic football. This would not only benefit their performances for the national team, but raise the bar for American players in the top European leagues. The performances of Americans around the world get better each day, and these two moving would only further that trend.
Feel free to disagree in the comments section below.
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