As many US Mens National Team (US Mens National Team) fans will tell you, Landon Donovan is far and away our best player.
He possesses all the talent in the world, and yet he is also viewed as the player most likely to disappear at the worst possible time. We all remember the 2006 World Cup fiasco in Germany, which saw us knocked out of the group stages as a result of our poor performances.
While the entire team outside of Clint Dempsey failed to live up to both the hype and expectations of its fans and advertisers, Donovan was saddled with most of the blame.
Was this justified?
I would say yes and no. Yes, because as our best player, he was expected to lead us into the Cup and make the plays that have made him such a star in MLS. Instead, he failed to make any impact on the Cup and as the Americans headed home, many wondered what went wrong with him. However, the other 10 men on the field also failed to live up to the hype and expectations, some much more than others. (DeMarcus Beasley, I’m talking to you.)
Fast forward to today. The USMNT is currently playing in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and has a 2-0-0 record. While their play has room for improvement, it has been fluid and has lead to goal scoring opportunities, something that was not seen in 2006.
Saturday’s game against Trinidad and Tobago was just another sign that Landon Donovan is the best player we have to offer. With the US struggling to get scoring opportunities, Donovan came in during the second half, and lit a fire under the team. He created the second goal of the game, a perfect cross to a wide open Eddie Johnson who tapped it in for the second goal.
The play was vintage Donovan. My question is, will we continue to see more of this or will Donovan once again fade into the shadows? It is very important for the USMNT to do well this summer, and Landon Donovan must lead this team. The competition will get much stronger when the Copa America tournament begins June 26th. World powers such as Argentina and Brazil await.
Landon Donovan can satisfy many of his critics with an excellent performance, should he decide to play. I believe he will play in the tournament and play well. It is a must for this team. If he fails, people will again ask, why can’t Landon Donovan play like we know he is capable of? The old saying goes, there is no I in team.
But Landon Donovan makes this team, and without him, it could be another summer of disappointment and anger.