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TGIF: Donovan is coming back, but 2009 should be his MLS farewell

Landon Donovan ( 

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Landon Donovan is coming back to MLS.

No, that isn't a surprise. Anyone who tracked his loan with Bayern Munich saw his stock take an AIG-like tumble in recent weeks. We all knew he was returning, but what the LA Galaxy's announcement on Thursday did was help bring some sense of calm over what has become a circus-like atmosphere in Galaxy-land thanks to Mr. Posh.

It is easy for some to forget that Donovan has been the most stable part of the Galaxy organization, and has been for years, which is why the Galaxy couldn't wait to let it's fans know that all was not last as David Beckham sat in Italy begging not to come back to MLS.

As much as the whole Beckham fiasco has probably made Galaxy fans more grateful for still having Donovan, the reality is that it is time for Donovan to go to Europe and stay in Europe. Yes, we have heard that before, but the difference now is that Donovan actually wants to go, and he looks ready to make the most of the opportunity.

For all intents and purposes, the 2009 MLS season should serve as Donovan's farewell tour. Forget that whole Beckham coming back at mid-season tour (which has disaster written all over it, if that scenario actually plays out). The upcoming season should be Donovan's last in MLS before he goes and gives Europe one more proper try.

The Bayern Munich loan was anything but your standard move and can't be counted as a legitimate chance for Donovan. As much as Juergen Klinsmann likes Donovan and wanted to give him a chance, the Bayern Munich board was never really interested and the only way Donovan could have changed its mind was with a string of Bundesliga goals.

The goals never came and Donovan never really settled in, even after a promising run-up to the second half of the season. He showed an ability to get involved, and make good decisions, but he never did make an impact and failed to give Klinsmann the ammunition to try and lobby for a transfer.

Does this mean Donovan's chances of ever succeeding in Europe are over? Not in the least. If anything, his time at Bayern has shown us a player far more comfortable on the European stage than the one we saw struggle badly in his second go-round with Bayer Leverkusen. No, Donovan didn't dominate, but he did show glimpses of a player who is better equipped for the move overseas.

That is why 2009 has to be it for Donovan in MLS. He has done more than enough for the league during his career, and after this season he should be given every opportunity to make a permanent move abroad to a club where he will be given a legitimate chance to settle in and become a solid contributor.

Whether Donovan actually succeeds once he goes to Europe isn't the point. What matters is that Donovan has earned the chance to try. He has one more year to help the Galaxy find stability and its first playoff berth in three years, but after that MLS and the Galaxy should make it as easy as possible for Donovan to move on. After years as the only reliable figure in the circus known as the Galaxy, Donovan has earned that right.


What do you think about Donovan's return to MLS? Is it time for him to leave the league? Think he should give up on his European dreams? Do you see him going to Europe next winter and being a star?

Share your thoughts below.


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  1. It may dishearten a lot of fans out there, but during the German Cup (Liga Pokal) the commentator, Marcel Reif (actually quite respected) said Donovan is not good enough for the Bundesliga.
    I have to disagree with Ives (or whoever wrote this piece). Donovan’s stock has dropped, and I think he did look better in Leverkusen. Heck, if I’m not mistaken he helped them win a Champions League game. He had a huge problem with the coach at the time, Klaus Augenthaler. But he was too young to realize that crappy coaches will come and go.
    Can someone explain why some of you guys think Donovan will be some kind of midfield beast? He’s got no power, very LITTLE presence. He always looks great on the counter attack, but I don’t see much more. I like him, but unfortunately I see him as a poor man’s Saviola.
    La Liga would be a perfect fit, but I see him having a more difficult time fitting in than Josy. At least Josy is super young and has GREAT FUTURE written all over his body.
    If Europe doesn’t pan out, LD should go to Mexico.

  2. Not sure it would happen, CM, but interesting point on the Arsenal tip. Could it be a situation like Bayern where Ivan uses some muscle to bring him in for a look?

  3. I disagree with the assessment that Donovan wouldn’t do well in the Premiership. In fact, I think his keen vision on the field works well in end-to-end, wide-open matches like the Premiership style. Now, I’m not saying he belongs at Man U or Chelsea. But, one of the middle-tier clubs would do well to bring him on board.

    I just want him playing in England, Germany, Spain, or Italy. That’s where he belongs. I guess if he went to Brazil or Argentina, that would still elevate his competition. Wherever it is, I hope he goes. MLS does owe him quite a lot and the transfer fee and his value to the league make for a very difficult situation for him. Even if a club thinks they’d like him, he could be priced too highly.

  4. I agree with John Godfrey that the column should have dealt more with the contract situation, since that has a very important bearing on what will happen with him. Sorry, Ives.

    As to Donovan, I think his agent has been doing a VERY bad job. Whose idea was it to go to Bayern in the first place? It was an idiotic idea to go to a club that already had many, many attacking and wing options. If he was interested in a good trial to showcase his talent to Europeans, he should have gone to a place that would have given him playing time.

    All in all, this entire episode has been a big debacle. He needs to start being more careful with his career.

  5. I really don’t understand why he didn’t go somewhere else at least. What was his agent doing this whole time? Nobody has use for a Donovan? I find that very hard to believe.

  6. It’s not as if Klinnsy did him any favors.

    Playing Landon up top, deep with either Klose and Toni instead of withdrawn where he can run to through balls or receive the ball and turn and run with it is where he should play. Doesn’t take a Fergusonian football mind to see that.

  7. I would like to see LD in La Liga. I think his style is better equipped for La Liga. He also speaks spanish which would help him getting settled in.

  8. donovan is too small and weak for the EPL? Aaron lennon, ashley young, david bentley, shawn wright phillips, cesc fabregas, carlos tevez all these guys are smaller or the same size as landon donovan. And weak? have you ever seen donovan play a game in person, hes absolutely strong on the ball, i saw him play against the swedish national team and he was holding off guys who were like 6’2, 6’4 with one arm. Donovan is a physical freak he can definitely handle himself.

  9. I mean, I’m glad Arshy doesn’t play for Bayern Munich. But then again didn’t his lower-tier team totally BLAZE Bayern in the UEFA Cup???

    Of course he’ll get the time (and minutes) he needs to mesh into the Arsenal system. A lot more time than Lanny had…

  10. “donovan fighting with Arshavin ohh that is a good one… it would be like tyson in his prime for pee wee herman donvoan is not even close to being arshavin aresenal caliber.”

    Now, how many games (minutes) has Arshavin played without scoring for Arsenal? I think they could use Donovan…

  11. Donovan needs a soft and cuddley feeling in order to play well and Klinsmann is probably the only coach in Europe that could do that for him, in my opinion. Donovan won’t succeed in Europe, I’m afraid.

  12. There is no chance of Donovan completing the 2009 MLS season. He is gone in the Summer transfer window to a team like Fulham, or Everton or Deportivo La Coruna.

    His recent Bayern Munich stint proved that he’s ready for European football more than previous attempts; but it also proved he’s not good enough to play for a UEFA Champions League level team.

    No crime in that, nevertheless, he’s not hanging around the MLS for another full season. Particularly without Beckham.

  13. I’ve never liked donovan that much. I don’t think he’ll survive or do well in Europe. He has good athletic ability and technical skill on the ball, but I think his vision for the game is sorely lacking.

    Which is why he’ll be great in leagues like the MLS, or maybe the dutch league or some of the lower leagues in europe, but I don’t see him succeeding in England, Spain, Italy or Germany, or even France.

  14. At this juncture, Beckham should just go. He will no longer have ANY fan support in L.A., and this rumored mid-season return will only serve to disrupt team chemistry, IMHO.

    As for Donovan, I think this analysis is spot on. He’ll play one more season with L.A., then head to Europe, and I’d say the EPL would be high on the list. NO LA LIGA!! He’ll disappear. Donovan could fit in quite well at a number of EPL clubs, but should avoid the big 4 (Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester United) like the plaque. I wouldn’t mind seeing him suit up for a club like Everton, West Ham, or Aston Villa, and LD definitely has the pace for the English game.

  15. i will eat every shoe in my closet…then ill run naked across the united states if beckham actually comes back this summer…theres no way hes coming back…this is the same okeydoke that he pulled with the loan in the first place…come end of may hes DEFINITELY gonna weasel his way out of coming back…the only thing i hope is that the mls and the galaxy have already established clear financial terms FROM NOW for that inevitable conclusion…it would suck to have to go through this whole BS back and forth again in the summertime

  16. Landon should steel himself in preparation this season then get his backside over to Europe for next season. He has the capability to play top league football and he should do it.

    His style of play might fit Spain, but they may also have a lot of similar (but better?) talent. Another thought – since he has thrived in the rough and tumble of MLS, perhaps he is one of those players who’ll handle the physicality of the EPL well.

    I think I like him for Fulham, who could use a bit more attacking talent. And who knows? Fulham is doing well this year, with a little more talent in the squad perhaps they could try to ask questions higher up in the table and even compete for a CL spot.

    Yeah, what am I smoking?! Still, it’s football, you never know.

  17. Donovan to Everton was over the top but then someone comes in with Donovan to Aresenal, damn some of you guys have lost it. Fulham is about the only realistic possibility of a EPL move (or a team that would be relegated the same year they buy him)

  18. Turtle:

    Ives asked the following: “Do you see him going to Europe next winter and being a star?”

    I responded by saying that without knowing his contract status, it’s a very difficult question to answer. If he’s under contract through 2011, MLS will slap a huge price tag on him and make it difficult for him to leave. If LD is only stuck in MLS until 2010, that’s another matter.

    I just think a little bit more reporting would have encouraged a smarter discussion. Sorry if I offended your delicate sensibilities or dared to challenge your hero.

  19. John, two things. First, this was a column, not a news story. Secondly, there is a difference between what you would LIKE TO KNOW and what NEEDS to be in a story.


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