After an 11-month hiatus, Landon Donovan is finally ready to return back to international football. The player will be on the U.S. national team for next month's Gold Cup.
The question remains though: Do we want him? Donovan's presence throughout the years has undoubtedly helped promote the game and improved United States team's performance, but it might be time he moves on.
After the Los Angeles Galaxy won their second straight MLS cup, Donovan decided to take a four-month sabbatical before returning on March 30. I watched him speak to a crowd full of USC students and faculty back in February. (in his first public speaking appearance since announcing his departure), and he didn’t do a great job convincing me he deserved his spot back.
That night he recalled the highs and lows of his career. He told the crowd how he needed time away from the sport, that it became too much for his life. On that day, I wasn't looking at a legend; instead, I saw a soft, bewildered man who appeared as if he couldn’t even take care of himself. Donovan showed signs of of weakness and vulnerability, and it seemed like he was trying to draw pity from the crowd for all the pressure that he’s dealt with.
However, I didn’t feel an ounce of sympathy for him. He may be one of the greatest players in U.S. history, but if he wasn’t so emotionally inept, he could have been one of the best in the world.
He claims his life is tough, but Donovan never found out how tough it could have really been. Opting for a career in the MLS, did he ever push himself to his limitations? Donovan always played behind comfort, and withdrew himself from the game whenever things seemed daunting. Hopefully, one day he’ll realize he’s not the only one consumed by their occupation.
Donovan does not have the mental toughness of an all-time legend. His resume is impressive, but the only thing standing in the way between him and players like Xavi or Robben, is himself.
At the moment, I’ll welcome him back to the U.S. team with open, but extremely skeptical arms.
This time next year, when the World Cup takes stage in Brazil, we’ll know exactly what Landon Donovan is made of.
For more information on Landon Donovan joining the U.S. national team, click here.