The Short List: Why Some People Don’t Like Donovan

In the latest edition of “The Short List”’s Allen Ramsey wades through the major reasons why Landon Donovan should still have plenty of detractors.
By Allen Ramsey

What a start for Landon Donovan in Germany. The long-time MLS superstar came out of the blocks firing for Bayern Munich in the recent run of preseason matches and even managed a few solid minutes during a midweek cup tie.

As I read through the stories surrounding Landon and the comments from Goal.commers, I noticed that there where two very distinct sides to how people felt about Donovan and his success with the Bavarians.

One side thinks that Donovan has proven his worth at every level and that he will be a star, or at least a heavy contributor for Bayern.

The other side still thinks that he has much to prove as a player.

Never mind the rash of U.S. Player of the Year awards. Don’t worry about Donovan’s goal-scoring record for the U.S. national team. Forget about how dominant he’s been in Major League Soccer. LD still has to prove his worth in Europe against top competition or he will never be considered any good.

I’ve always been a member of the group that thinks he has a lot to prove still. I have never thought of Donovan as the top player in the U.S. and still don’t. However, with his continued and growing success in Germany, my arguments against him are running a little thin.

With that in mind I decided this week to give my short list of reasons for detractors to not like Landon Donovan. I figured it would be good for all of us to reread the best reasons for not liking Landon Donovan.

5. He’s short.
Here in the States, we love tall people. We rarely elect presidents under six feet tall. Our most loved athletes are all big.

At only 5’8”, Landon can barely get on the big rides at amusement parks. Surely this has to be reason enough not to like a soccer player.

4. The Receding Hairline.
I doubt that ever before has an American soccer player had his hairline discussed more than Landon Donovan’s. Alexi Lalas and Cobi Jones both had crazy hair, but we loved them for it. It made them stand out in a crowd.

Donovan’s hairline (and the protruding forehead that accompanies it) has been the topic of discussion by quite a few Donovan detractors in the past. I think it should be reborn with a new strength. Maybe if more people talked badly about Donovan’s hair it would stop him from scoring goals left and right.

3. He Failed In Europe Once Already.
He was young. So what? He still didn’t make it at Leverkusen.

So forget that Leverkusen was a top-half club that played in Europe during that time and Landon still could barely grow a beard. We detractors should focus on how he had problems getting on the field. I mean, it’s not like Andriy Voronin or Dimitir Berbatov, the two strikers that started in front of him, have done anything since, right?

2. The Urination Incident In Mexico
Back in 2004, Landon relieved himself on the field  at Estadio Jalisco while preparing for an international match.

I can understand why this would make people not like Donovan as a person. It was a disrespectful move by all accounts. As such, I think we should all criticize him as a player.

Honestly, as a follower of the sport, I think that any person who would do such a despicable thing should be thought of as no more than a menace to the game and a marginal player. Think about all of the things he could’ve done, like getting arrested for drinking and driving, sexual assault, or being at a hotel with transvestites. Those things certainly would’ve been much less harmful to his image.

1. He Doesn’t Play Well Against Good Teams
This is by far my favorite argument against Landon. We should look closely at it.

Here are the numbers: 84 goals in MLS, 37 for the U.S. National Team, two World Cup goals, nine in WC qualifying. And yet Donovan can’t get it done against top quality opponents.

It shouldn’t matter that he scores goals at a pace that no other American player ever has. We should focus on the fact that he only does it in CONCACAF and in MLS. Even his fast start in Germany can be attributed to the fact that Bayern were playing lesser teams in preparation for the second half of the season.

Those of us who want Landon to fail shouldn’t even wait for him to have a real opportunity in Europe. We should just bag on him while we can.

Besides, I like the taste of crow in the morning.
Allen Ramsey is an associate editor for USA.