2010 Transfers: Does Donovan's Decision To Stay In The US Impact His Legacy?
Landon Donovan has recently indicated that he will not be heading to the Premier League on loan this off-season like he did last season.
Last year, for the first time since his failed stint in the Bundesliga, Donovan went back to play in Europe. He arguably upgraded leagues by playing in the Premier League, but he unquestionably was successful and had an impact with Everton. Everton's coaches and fans all seemed pleased with his contribution and it seemed likely after last season that Donovan might actually opt out of the MLS and play full time with Everton in the Premier League.
Then, shortly after his return to the US, he signed a five year contract extension with the Galaxy and basically indicated that even though he did enjoy his time in Everton, his heart and loyalty remained with the MLS.
Yet despite his commitment to the Galaxy, many people believed that he would still go on loan again this year to Everton or another club during the Galaxy's off-season. Turns out that isn't the case, at least not this year.
Last year, everyone questioned whether Donovan would be able to compete with the best players in the world in the best league in the world. He proved he could.
Instead of where he would go this year, the question has changed to whether Donovan is making a mistake by not going back to England and what sort of impact this will have on Donovan's legacy.
On one hand, the decision to not go back to Everton shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Donovan has always been public about his time in Germany and that it was a difficult experience. Even though he had a much better experience with Everton, he has always preferred playing near his home and familiar surroundings in Los Angeles.
Secondly, he is clearly and justifiably tired. He has essentially gone two straight years without a break from soccer. He played in the MLS, went straight to the EPL, then straight into the World Cup and then straight back into the MLS. His body is worn out and he is likely more prone to injury if he continued to play without giving his body a break.
On the other hand however, this decision is classic Donovan and what makes him so confusing to some soccer fans.
I understand his body is tired and that he is comfortable in LA and wants a break, but this is the English Premier League. It is arguably the greatest league in the world with some of the most intense and passionate fans in the world. Some people would sell their soul to be able to play just one game in the Premier League. Donovan passes on the opportunity so that he can take a nap.
Again, I realize that he is legitimately worn out, but he's in the middle to latter stages of his prime. The window of opportunity is closing. Everton and other teams won't continue knocking and making offers forever.
It's also somewhat frustrating for some of us American fans as we are proud of our country and our American exports. Few Americans, apart from goalies, have ever been able to play in Europe, much less the top leagues. So we are naturally proud of our Dempseys or McBrides that are able to disprove the stereotype that Americans can't play soccer or compete in the best leagues in Europe.
Donovan may not be the best American player, but he's arguably the most exciting player. He's a great forward with a good shot and amazing speed. He can compete with the best players and would likely make many Americans proud, just like he did last year.
Plus, after such an exciting World Cup, nothing would have been better than for Donovan to "take his talents" to England. It would have been the perfect way to bring Premier League exposure to the many casual US fans that had their soccer interest peaked after the World Cup.
So what is his legacy? Does this impact it at all? Clearly the story isn't over yet. He may go back to the Premier League next year and things could change.
But I think this somewhat confirms the suspicions on what his legacy will be: a very good, if not great soccer player. One of the better American soccer players ever, but with the potential to have been one of the greatest in the world.
Is it a bad legacy? Absolutely not. It's much better than most players. He's had many incredible and memorable moments. It's just unfortunate that he's left us thinking that he was capable of so much more.
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