Why USA Soccer Fans Should Breathe a Huge Sigh of Relief

A shell of my former selfCorrespondent IMarch 16, 2010

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 07:  Landon Donovan of Everton applauds the fans during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Hull City at Goodison Park on March 7, 2010 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The sport of soccer has lost one of its present-day pioneers for five-to-six months. 

Potentially for forever and ever, amen.

It's a damned shame, too.

As David Beckham routinely does, he trapped the ball with his right foot and immediately flashed his vision up the pitch. 

The computer in his brain started to calculate. 

Big switch. Few dribbles forward and send a through ball. Find a streaking forward with a signature Beckham whipping-dipping cross.

The calculations did not include taking a step backward to motion his body forward. 

That step proved to be it for Beckham. Just one wrong left-footed step.

Befitting to be unfitting.  

So, sayonara fourth World Cup for arguably the most famous athlete in the world. 

It was fun while it lasted, David. We'll remember you by those marveled last years at Old Trafford, the samurai hairdo in Madrid, and the attempt to bring soccer to a place that still ranks curling ahead of the world's game.

Your left Achilles' tendon betrayed you, along with so many who enjoy watching.

We commend your efforts and your tenacity for the game. 

You were just bitten by the most venomous snake imaginable and now have to see your bitter sunset turn epically sour. 

USA soccer fans, take note.

This could have easily happened to your squad's best player. Easily.

Landon Donovan, the little-engine-that-supposedly-couldn't was doing more than just making waves in the English Premier League—he was guiding home results. 

He was delivering wins for Everton FC, and doing so in comfortable Donovan fashion.

F-18 speed, Beckham-esque (low, I know) touch, and an overall sense of belonging amongst the biggest boys there are.

His 10-week stay in Liverpool, England didn't just open eyes. It popped them right out the skulls.

In 13 games donned in Everton blue, Donovan started 11. He scored twice and had his hands in the cookie jar in numerous Toffee goals. 

During his stay, Everton bested Manchester City, Chelsea, and the table leaders, Manchester United.

Now 28, Donovan is in his soccer prime. 

He's still got the wheels and is mature enough to have an impact in any match on any level. 

Donovan's loan at Everton ended last week. Since, he's returned back to buoyant Southern California, undoubtedly sitting on the beach and soaking in his hometown rays as he's done for so long.

So, listen up, Sam's Army. You kneel to the ground and praise whatever deity you send all your praises to in thanks. 

Donovan is back unscathed. The same cannot be said for his L.A. Galaxy teammate. 

Lando killed it when no one expected him to raise a single hair on the neck of the run-of-the-mill Toffee supporter.

As he told EvertonTV on his way out, Donovan said, "I've proved to myself that I can't control what people think or what people say or what people believe about me. Those closest to me know how important this was to me personally."

Bravo, Lando. You've proved all your naysayers wrong. They owe you a shot of Patron Platinum.

More importantly, you're back with both Achilles' tendons in mint condition.

As unfortunate of an injury Beckham's is for him and England, it's not the sort of apocalyptic, 2012 scenario that would face the Stars and Stripes had Donovan gone down to injury. 

Now. Is this the ultimate jinx piece? I don't really believe in jinxes. I've been used to heartbreak my whole life when it comes to following sports, so if one wants to dub this as a jinx, I'd counter with my whole life being a curse.

It's no secret USA soccer will go as far as Donovan can take them.

And it's no secret that the team has been bitten by the same snake that bit Beckham as of late. 

Charlie Davies' horrific car accident and his road back. Oguchi Onyewu's unfortunate step backward against Costa Rica. Even Clint Dempsey, who looked to have suffered a serious knee injury about a month back, has recently made his way back onto the pitch.

USA soccer has no depth. It's like reality television. After the first wave, it all falls belong the wayside.

This is the most ready American team has been heading into a World Cup. Ever.

Now that doesn't say much about US soccer, nor does it cement anything substantial for USSF President Sunil Gulati and manager Bob Bradley (who should both be given the hook if the team under-performs in South Africa).

The American side doesn't have enough depth to contend with world powers that do. The dropoff from the A-squad to B-squad is pretty significant. 

It's Clint Dempsey to Robbie Rogers. 

Onyewu to Jonathan Bornstein.

Davies to Robbie Findley.

You follow me?

Bradley, Gulati, and all of Uncle Sam's Army needs Landon Donovan like they need oxygen to breathe. 

Without him, this B+ team drops considerably to about a C. Maybe C-.

It's the way of the soccer (football) gods and when your time's up, it's as simple as a step backward for it all to come careening down the mountain top.

It has taken him more than a few years since breaking onto the scene in 2002, but Donovan at the top of his game and evidently ready to prove more people wrong. 

On an even bigger stage. Completely healthy, of course.

God willing.


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