MLS- LA Galaxy

Donovan accepts hatred, relishes challenge ahead of next match in Mexico


Photo by ISIphotos.com

MORELIA, Mexico — To say that Landon Donovan is Public Enemy No. 1 when he faces Mexican opposition may be a bit of an understatement. 

Ahead of Tuesday's CONCACAF Champions League match with Morelia, the perception that Mexicans have of the Los Angeles Galaxy captain is that of a vile man, who people in a local marketplace label a "racist" and someone who undoubtedly "hates Mexicans." Away from the marketplace, the perception is no different at the training ground high above the Estadio Morelos on Monday, where a fan shouted his own expletive filled rant at Donovan, "Donovan! [Blank] you [blank]. Your ass is mine [blank]!"

The message from the Mexican public seems clear: Many of the Morelia fans will be attending the match for their own chance to tell off one of the biggest villains in Mexico. In the intimate Estadio Morelos, Donovan will be able to hear every chant directed his way. Despite all the harsh words and false accusations, all Donovan can do is brush off the hatred. 

"There's nothing I can do about that, it's beyond my control," Donovan said. "I grew up with a lot of Latin Americans and I got friends that are from all parts of Central America and Mexico. It is ignorant, because there is no knowledge beyond it, but it is what it is." 

The story of Donovan's villain status in Mexico is not a new one. Much of it stems from his success against the Mexican national team, against whom he has scored five goals while playing for the U.S. national team, including one in this past summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup final.

The dislike also emanates from Donovan's famed urinating incident at Guadalajara's Estadio Jalisco in 2004 while playing with the U.S. Under-23 national team, an episode that Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena says has been greatly "distorted." 

The stigma from the incident as well as his goals have created a perfect storm of hatred around Donovan, who always receives added attention when he lines up against Mexican opposition, whether it be at the club or international level. When questioned about the perception and accusations that surrounded Donovan from members of the public, one member of the Galaxy admitted that it's simply part of the game. 

"It's something that he's had to deal with in these countries," said defender Todd Dunivant. "Because players who are that good and have played that many games against Mexico in high-level competitions -– thinking back to '02 and the World Cup on down to the qualifiers and the friendlies every year -– there's no wonder there's a little ill will there and they’re going to invent things in their mind." 

On Tuesday, Donovan will not line up against El Tri, but against Morelia, who are eager to pull ahead of the Galaxy for supremacy in Group A. Currently the Galaxy are perched on top of the group with six points in two matches while Morelia sits in third in the group with three points.

Without David Beckham or Juninho to lighten his load in the midfield, Donovan will need a big game against Monarcas if the Galaxy are to join FC Dallas and the Seattle Sounders on the growing list of MLS teams that have earned victories in Mexico. Donovan relishes the challenge that comes with attempting to join that prestigious list. 

"[I enjoy it] mainly because they're good teams and they're challenging to play against," said Donovan. "Their [Morelia] games are on TV here at night, and I got to watch one of their games and the game against Cruz Azul, the other day, but they're just a good team and they’re going to be challenging in a lot of different ways."

Regardless of the outcome on Tuesday, Donovan's status among the Mexican public will likely not change, but there is a glimmer of hope. While many will travel to Estadio Morelos eager to hoot and holler at Donovan, the mood is quite different when members of the public come in contact with the Galaxy midfielder.

Following the Galaxy's training on Monday, Donovan was a popular target of autograph hounds and many others seeking to pose for a picture with the Galaxy midfielder. Although many of these fans may be among the potentially 30,000 cursing his name on Tuesday night, it is this balance between hatred on the field and kindness off of it that Donovan truly enjoys. 

"What I realize is that, when you're on the field, they all yell at you and support their team, but when you see them on the street, everyone is respectful and nice," said Donovan. "That's how it should be." 

  • solles

    Who starred at Liverpool this decade? And Spurs? Are you referring to Keller? He hardly “starred”. I’m picking up what you’re putting down but don’t get silly.


  • KL

    Not good enough to secure a contract with Everton.
    Not Good enough to secure a contract with Bayern (in three tries)
    Not good enough to help his team beat Mexico in the last four years.

    I think you meant “started” instead of “starred” Look them up. completely different meanings.


  • Sean

    I think he should score, then run straight to the center circle and pee everywhere. Sportscenter Top Play for weeks.


  • John Velez

    LOL known worldwide?

    If Mexican fans are known worldwide it’s because they support their team well at every world cup.

    When Mexico and Italy played a friendly prior to the 2010 WC, the Italians disrespected the Mexican national anthem and threw crap at the fans and bench yet you don’t hear the Mexican media crying about it.

    When the US and Mexico played in 2009 in Columbus for a WCQ, the US fans near the sidelines pelted Pavel Pardo with crap every time he took a corner kick, it’s pretty convenient people like you choose to ignore this kind of behavior when it comes from your own fan base.

    American fans aren’t far behind. Some fans have even expressed concern at the way some American Outlaw fans have behaved in the last few friendlies, most notably against Mexico in Philly yet here you are…

    Before you even bring up the Gold Cup in June, I suggest you check out the running commentary from SBI and Sports Illustrated and explain to me how it is that a good chunk of the spectators at the game along with journalists covering the event LIVE didn’t notice the “massive booing” of the US national anthem????

    While you’re at it, if you can show me proof that any US player has EVER been hit by a bag of urine or vomit while in Mexico or the US it’ll do wonders for your credibility….I mean, the way some of you make it sound it’s so prevalent that surely somebody must’ve taken a picture or caught it on video at some point…..you know, since it happens so often according to folks like you…

    While you’re scrambling for that video/photo, can you tell me how you felt when a drunk US fan disrespected the moment of silence meant to commemorate the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami earlier this year at the US-Argentina friendly at the new meadowlands???


  • Judging Amy

    The best was that picture of a Mexican fan putting his fingers into his throat to make himself vomit into a plastic cup and then throwing it at US players during a corner. Or there was that Mexican fan that spilled his beer on a reporter’s laptop (Might’ve been Grant Wahl?).


  • Good Jeremy

    Friedel was at Liverpool. And Friedel is Spurs too. Before you insult my opinion, get the basic ideas that you are insulting right.

    I believe that Howard going in and unseating Barthez, during France’s reign and who was at the time considered to be a top-3 goalie in the world, and then be voted as the EPL’s top goalie qualifies as “starred,” but what do I know?

    Donovan didn’t have three tries at Bayern Munich, he had one. The others were Bayer Leverkusen. The devil is in the details.
    He could have easily secured a contract with Everton too, but LA was demanding an enormous transfer sum with him. Obviously with the Beckham money LA is spending and the salary cap, LA has no incentive to sell Donovan for money they already have and can’t use.

    As far as beating Mexico in the last four years, it happened twice in 2007, once in 2009, and we tied in 2009 and 2011. The only A-list loss Donovan played in was the Gold Cup final where he scored a goal. It’s hard to blame him for the debacle at LB and Bradley’s management. Maybe if Bradley managed differently, or Dolo didn’t go down injured, or half of Mexico’s initial roster didn’t come up positive for drugs it would have been different, but Donovan did his part.


  • Good Jeremy

    I call shenanigans. Show multiple international articles or even messageboards claiming that the US fans are classless. Since it’s not even close, you won’t have any trouble finding any outside of Mexico.

    Let me know when we start booing national anthems, throwing bananas at black players (Poland), or any of the racist or general hooligan behaviour dominant in Europe that forces teams to play in empty stadiums for games. I guess a handful of fans throwing things at a player is bad and we are pretty guilty, but it is nowhere near institutionalized here like it is in many other countries. Politicians would have a field day if US fans treated the Mexican team like Mexican fans treat the US team- media reports non-stop, political conferences, USSF decrees to no longer play games at that location.

    Don’t even try to say we have any sort of reputation or behavior problem beyond a couple outliers in the cheap seats.


  • Good Jeremy

    Miroslav Klose, 2nd in world cup scoring history, also couldn’t crack the Bayern Munich starting lineup often and couldn’t secure a contract with them this year.


  • Neruda

    I read Judging Amy’s link and I don’t think this yahoo writer is just making this stuff up. He sprinkled in his opinion about the poor officiating but that’s evidence enough by a reputable website of the piss and vomit story.

    Of course there are extreme idiots from all countries who do stupid things. Mexico is more passionate on the whole since soccer is their national sport (most popular sport), it’s number five in the states. The US will be more passionate and have larger scores of fans as the sport grows.


  • John Velez

    A Martin Rodgers article? That’s your proof?

    A guy who claims his “anonymous” sources told him it happened?

    I mean, I don’t have to major in journalism to know that he said/she said doesn’t hold much weight unless I provide some sort of proof.

    Again, if it is as prevalent as some US fans claim, surely somebody would have some photographic evidence and not from some third party account.

    Ok forget that, can you show me a link where any US player complains about this? If it happens as often as people claim, surely at least one player would’ve complained publicly about being hit with bags of urine or vomit don’t you think?

    I’m not even going to pretend something as disgusting as that wouldn’t happen but I’ve heard other American fans cry about it for so long that I figured I’d ask for some proof because in my travels to Mexico and South America I’ve never seen anyone do that and I’m not naive enough to believe something just because a guy wrote an article on a website about it.

    Back to my other point, there was one guy who moaned about being mistreated at the Gold Cup final a few months ago and most major news sources ran with it even thought there were MANY more American fans who went public with their positive experience and even called out fellow US fans for their drunken behavior and all people remember is what this one guy said.

    I was at the Jalisco stadium for the 04 Olympic qualifiers and the stuff that went down there is nothing like what most people believe….a few drunk fans started chanting Osama and were jeered by the rest of the crowd to the point where people wanted to fight them but instead they were removed by security yet all you hear nowadays is about the evil people of Guadalajara viciously chanting at the American team….I was there, I saw it happen and no matter how many times I try to tell people it didn’t go down like that, they choose to believe what they want to believe.

    Where I’m from is not relevant. I’m a fan of the game and support good football everywhere but just because I disagree with the notion of “evil mexicans” I’ll be branded a troll.


  • Pez

    Didn’t Ives tweet at the Rosebowl the surprising amount of admiration/respect Mexican supporters have for Landon Donovan?

    Maybe Adam didn’t get that memo.


  • Kenny_B

    He only went on loan with Bayern Munich once. He had a contract with Bayer Laverkusen and was on loan to MLS. So while I get what you are trying to say…it’s wrong. And the US has beat Mexico several times in the last four years.


  • USA

    I find it funny how any criticism of Mexico is automatically labeled as “racist”.

    Mexicans are the most sensitive people.


  • Arnold

    I think Mexicans should direct all that ire for the USA team at their corrupt, inept and unjust country.

    It bugs me so badly when I go to Pasadena and see all these Mexican fans who live here, make their living here, go to public school here, and send money to family in Mexico; basically owe everything they have in life to this country and yet there is nothing they hate more than the USA national team.

    The next time we play Mexico in LA, let’s tell people that there will be an immigration check at the gate and then let’s see how many people show up.


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