The American midfielder has been criticized for taking the "easy road" throughout his career, but he has nothing to prove to anyone, including Brad FriedelMaybe we should give Brad Friedel an assist for calling out Landon Donovan a few weeks ago, suggesting Donovan took the “easy road” by playing his football in the United States.
Friedel hadn’t yet issued his clumsy clarification before Donovan was agreeing to head back to the Premier League on another 10-week loan with Everton, a struggling club that is rumored to want Donovan permanently.
“I think if Landon was ever going to come back to Europe,” says Everton manager David Moyes, “this would probably be the time to do it, because of his age, et cetera.”
Everton badly wants Donovan. That much is clear. His speed, skill and scoring touch will bolster the Toffees' struggling attack. Two years ago, Donovan made a strong impression in Europe’s top league, scoring twice in 13 games and winning the club's Player of the Month award his first month there.
But I’m not so sure Donovan says goodbye to Major League Soccer and stays with Everton for the long haul. Despite winning an MLS Cup with the Los Angeles Galaxy, Donovan enjoys living and playing on the West Coast and quite frankly he doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone, Friedel included.
The Tottenham goalkeeper, who was Donovan’s World Cup teammate in 2002, created a minor controversy when attempted to praise Clint Dempsey but instead insulted Donovan.
“You get a player like a Landon Donovan, who in my opinion chose to take the easy road and stay in the States,” Friedel told the BBC. “It’s much harder to ply your trade over here (in Europe).”
Friedel is partially correct. The top professional leagues in England, Spain, Italy and Germany are a notch above MLS. But easy road? Donovan has never struck me as someone who backs down from a challenge. Seriously, this is a guy who a few years ago had the gumption to publicly criticize his teammate and MLS golden child, David Beckham.
Clint Dempsey has proven himself to be the best American player to call the Premier League home. Donovan flamed out in Germany as a young player, both at Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich but his short stint at Everton two years ago demonstrated that he can be a productive player at this level.
“If you're asking me,” Moyes said, “I think [Donovan is] getting to an age in his career where 'if I don't do it now, I might not be able to do it later on.' He's in demand by me at Everton -- and I think he was in demand by a few clubs after his performances last year [at the World Cup], by clubs hoping he might come back.”
There is a possibility that Donovan could play in as many as 11 matches in 52 days with Everton. That includes dates with Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool
And there is also one another game of interest. On Jan. 11, Everton heads to White Hart Lane where Friedel will be trying to keep Donovan out of the net and keep his foot out of his mouth.
“When I said ‘easy road,’ I’m not saying that everything Landon has done is easy because he stayed in the U.S.,” Friedel told the MLS website. “I’m not saying that at all. I could have used other players as an example. It’s just that Landon came up at the tip of my tongue because he’s one of the best U.S. players.”