Landon Donovan: Return to Sender
Despite his best efforts, it looks like Landon Donovan will be returning to Los Angeles for the start of the MLS season.
Bayern Munich have apparently decided that the American striker is surplus to requirements and will be sending him back to the States to suit up for a far less glamorous side.
If Bayern follow through with this move, will Donovan's third stint in Germany be considered a failure like his first two? Should it be?
The short answer is "no."
In very limited action, Donovan has managed to make a positive impression in Germany. He scored four goals in exhibition games during the Bundesliga's winter break and appeared to link up well with Bayern's other attackers.
Donovan's mental toughness and physical production were much higher this time around, but it seems that the third time won't be a charm regardless.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said that in a lineup crowded with strikers, "...when you have Klose, Toni, and Olic already under contract, we think the fourth player [striker] should really be a young player with perspective."
Jurgen Klinsmann was also rumoured to be high on Donovan's talents. But the reality is, it's hard to find space for Donovan with several talented young players already on the books.
Klinsmann tried, Donovan was given a fair shout, but the deck was stacked against him.
Donovan would have had to play the best football of his life in order to stay, and he merely delivered quality, not the sublime.
Does this mean that this is the end of the road for Donovan in Europe?
It certainly shouldn't.
Donovan's contract with MLS expires at the end of this season, and while he may not have any more chances with an elite European club, his performances in MLS and on loan with Bayern will certainly have attracted somebody's eye.
I can't help but feel bad for Donovan. He really seemed like he was ready to undertake the rigors of playing in Europe, but is being passed up yet again.
He seems desperate for a move out of Los Angeles and out of MLS and had been hoping that he would catch on at Bayern.
Fortunately, his contract is up in a few months and if any European teams are interested in his services, they'll be able to get him at bargain pricing.
But for the 2009 season, he will likely be trapped in Los Angeles.
Expect him to make the most of a bad situation. He'll always be the best player on the pitch in an MLS match and will be working harder than ever in the hopes of stirring up some interest from overseas.
Expect another run at the Golden Boot and League MVP honors.
Expect some performances during World Cup Qualification that are out of his mind.
Expect him to do whatever it takes to escape the dysfunctional family that is LA, even if that means playing a little more selfishly and pushing his body a little closer to its limit.
Expect him to have his best season ever, and leave skid marks on his way out of MLS.
Information from ESPNsoccernet.com was used in this article.
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