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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I liked his personality assessment of the players. Doesn't think much of Agoos (slobbiest and least friendly) but likes Frankie H. (funniest, biggest flirt) though doesn't think he's too smart. Sees Keller as smart but darkly brooding and Meola as the least intelligent.

Wonder what his teamates thought when they read that? :eek:

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PROFILE Germany fear the best of Donovan

Thursday 20th June 2002

by Thomas Zeh

Landon Donovan attempts to repeat Ahn Jung-hwan's feat on Friday by knocking out the country where he plays his football.

But the USA winger's reward at Bayer Leverkusen is likely to be a place in the starting line-up, not the sack, as Perugia unforgivably gave Ahn for dumping Italy out of the World Cup.

Donovan, 20, has been one of the stars of the tournament. The stylish attacking midfielder has netted two goals, the second of which secured a comfortable 2-0 win over fancied Mexico in the second round.

It was this promise which Leverkusen recognised when they brought Donovan to the Bundesliga at the age of 16.

He joined after being voted player of the tournament in the Under-17 World Cup in New Zealand and Leverkusen chief scout Norbert Ziegler was sure he had found an outstanding talent.

"Given his technique and the surprising things he does on the pitch, he could become a second Mehmet Scholl," says the man who has discovered the likes of Paulo Sergio, Emerson and Lucio for the Bayer company club.

Given his meagre stature, dark hair and wide smile, Donovan certainly looks like a younger version of the Bayern Munich midfielder, who quit international football due to injury problems ahead of the World Cup.

But the dish-cleaner-turned-football-millionaire story didn't happen straight away.

Neither Leverkusen coach Christoph Daum or his successor Berti Vogts felt Donovan was ready for the Bundesliga and, after playing third-division football with the Bayer amateur team, a frustrated and homesick Donovan returned to the USA.

There, he has proved a revelation for San Jose Earthquakes and Friday's clash with Germany offers the chance to prove he is worthy of another opportunity, which he is expected to get anyway when he returns to Leverkusen in October.

The club never lost confidence in their American and tied him to a contract until 2007 before sending him off to San Jose.

"It was a great sacrifice to leave my home because of my love for the game," says Donovan about his first attempt at carving out a career in Germany.

Back in the USA, though, he proved his initial spell in Leverkusen had not been wasted by inspiring San Jose to rise from the bottom of the Major League Soccer table to the play-offs.

He then became the talk of the US game after the club lifted the trophy and he finished as top scorer.

"I have never seen a player who matured in such a short period of time, he is carrying the hopes of the whole country on his shoulders," declares San Jose coach Frank Yallop.

Donovan's adviser Michael Becker adds: "After the World Cup, many European clubs will be hunting him. During his time in the MLS, he has become a great star. He is simply everywhere and has set up several very lucrative sponsorship deals."

Indeed, Donovan's fresh-faced features adorn cornflakes packets, sunglasses and computer-game packaging.

There are even Donovan Bobblehead Dolls - incredibly popular plastic figures usually devoted to baseball heroes - while he also featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, a rare accolade for a "soccer star".

Donovan has been a breath of fresh air in the struggling MLS, which continues to suffer from low attendances and even had to be reduced in size after clubs failed to attract new investors.

But the bad news for San Jose is that Leverkusen boss Klaus Toppmoller can hardly wait for Donovan's US loan spell to end in the autumn. The coach knows his prodigy is far better prepared to handle the Bundesliga challenge this time around.

USA manager Bruce Arena says: "He was simply too young to make his presence felt in such surroundings, but he has to go back and prove himself."

Donovan will not go short of advice as Germany has proved a popular destination for USA internationals of the past and present.

Former greats such as striker Eric Wynalda (Saarbrucken and Bochum) and defender Tom Dooley (Leverkusen and Schalke) paved the way in the early 1990s.

Some of Arena's older guard have also tried their luck in Germany. Veteran defender Jeff Agoos failed at third-division SV Wehen and striker Joe-Max Moore struggled at Nuremberg.

Columbus Crew striker Brian McBride hardly left an impact at Bundesliga side Wolfsburg, although lately things have improved for the younger crop.

Leverkusen's Frankie Hejduk and Nuremberg's Tony Sanneh, both regular starters for Arena, are under contract in Germany.

And while Hejduk has only warmed the bench so far - understandably given the tough competition for places at the Champions' League runners-up - Sanneh has earned praise for solid showings in defence.

Sunderland playmaker Claudio Reyna got his struggling career back on track with a spell at Wolfsburg and 23-year-old Steven Cherundolo, who missed the World Cup with knee problems, was one of the driving forces behind Hannover's return to the German top-flight in the spring.

"Traditionally our players are fine athletes, but in Europe and especially in Germany they tremendously improve their football skills," adds Arena.

Now Donovan could be joined by an even greater number of familiar faces in the Bundesliga, with DaMarcus Beasley linked with Hamburg and Clint Mathis a transfer target for Bayern Munich.

The Stars and Stripes might be fluttering all around the Bundesliga next season. But Donovan, one suspects, would just be satisfied to keep the US flag flying in the Far East beyond Friday's game in Ulsan.

onefootball ;)

674 Posts
Carson 35, it's too bad Landon is tied to a German club, they will never respect him for one reason . . . he's American.

Having been in German extensively, and watched my brother play professional basketball there, it is sadly apparent that unless you are WAAAYYYY better than the Germans, they will continue to think that you are crap. They still can't believe they lost WWII and would ask for a rematch if they weren't afraid too.

I say this with no malice. It's just fact. Ask 39 million Poles. (Or Turks for that matter!) I admire the Germans. In many ways their National Team has qualities that suit Americans very well. They hustle and are organized and don't quit. (Though today they dove like Brazilians) They beat us fair and square.

Anyway, I wish our better players were going to Spain, Italy, England or France. They'd have a better chance to play and to learn different skills. We already know how to be tough and hustle! (And besides, who wants to learn to be arrogant?)

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